Watch above: Rachel Lau was at Place Émilie-Gamelin on Sunday as demonstrators gathered to stand in solidarity with Palestine.
MONTREAL – Protesters from 60 organizations across Montreal gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin Sunday to stand in solidarity with Palestine. The demonstration started with a moment of silence, and then the chanting of “save Palestine” filled the air.
“We believe that Israel should obey international law,” said Scott Weinstein, a representative from Independent Jewish Voices. “Primarily, they have to stop the occupation.”
They are speaking out against what they call aggressive Israeli military action in Gaza.
“We’re not opposed to a religion,” said Raymond Legault, a spokesperson for the Collectif Échec à la Guerre
“We’re not opposed to a people. We’re opposed to the policies of their state.”
The goal is to send a message to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“This is not about a balanced position of Canada,” said Legault. “This is not about nuances. There’s an occupier, there’s people that are occupied and this is what has to end.”
Protesters marched alongside members of the Bloc Québécois, who came out to show their support.
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Nevertheless, some in Montreal’s Jewish community say Israel is being unfairly treated by the international population.
“They should really be ashamed that they only seem to come together when it is to attack, to denounce the sole, legitimate democratic country in the Middle East, which is Israel,” said Luciano Del Negro, the Vice-President of The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
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Del Negro doesn’t see the demonstration in the same light.
“It is scandalous to see people demonstrating under the garb of peace,” he said. “This is not peace. The only people who will find solace in this is Hamas.”
Yet, Weinstein points out many within the Jewish community are torn.
“It’s very much like George Orwell’s Animal Farm where the people who led the rebellion are now becoming the oppressors,” he said. “Jews are having a hard time with that.”
He insists being Jewish doesn’t mean you automatically support everything Israel does.
“We’ve been taught that, pretty much since birth, that to be Jewish is to be pro-Israel,” he explained.
As the war between Israel and the Palestinians moves well into its second month, Montrealers insist they will continue protesting until the conflict ends in a permanent ceasefire.
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