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Protesters outside Toronto hospital dispute antisemitism allegations

Click to play video: 'Mount Sinai Hospital pro-Palestinian protestors deny antisemitism allegations after backlash'
Mount Sinai Hospital pro-Palestinian protestors deny antisemitism allegations after backlash
WATCH: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators are fighting back about how a recent march in Toronto was characterized by some Canadian politicians and health administrators. Shallima Maharaj reports – Feb 20, 2024

A group of demonstrators who protested along ‘Hospital Row’ in downtown Toronto is challenging claims its actions on Feb. 12 were antisemitic.

The crowd began protesting at Yonge and Bloor streets early in the evening, before eventually finding its way to the stretch along University Avenue.

Video footage posted to social media shows the massive gathering outside Mount Sinai Hospital, a facility with deep roots in Toronto’s Jewish community.

At one point, protesters can be seen scaling the scaffolding outside the building.

Speaking to Global News on Tuesday, organizations affiliated with the protest say their goal was to generate awareness of the major humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and the continued bombardment by the Israeli military.

The protest drew responses from Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow, Premier Doug Ford, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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“You have to have an ounce of decency not to do this,” Ford said while in a news conference on another issue.

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In a post on social media platform ‘X’, Trudeau called the demonstration ‘reprehensible,’ adding, “I strongly condemn this display of antisemitism.”

“We were horrified when we saw hospital CEOs signing on to a blatantly false accusation of antisemitism that occurred at a protest where we had hundreds of our members and Jewish supporters of the pro-Palestinian movement,” Molly Kraft of the coalition Jews Say No to Genocide said.

Organizers and allies of the rally have since taken to social media, calling on hospital CEOs to retract their statement and issue an apology to the Palestinian community.

“I am speaking out, saying it is not antisemitic to be pro-Palestinian. In fact, it’s part of my Jewish values to show up and speak against genocide because as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I know that I have to speak out loudly,” added Kraft.

Dalia Awwad of the Palestinian Youth Movement, one of the organizers, worries the intended meaning of the event is becoming lost as a result of the accusations.

“The Spiderman for Palestine had climbed multiple fixtures throughout the last four months and years, actually, prior to this protest,” Awwad said.

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While organizers maintain Mount Sinai wasn’t targeted, some Jewish organizations feel differently.

“The only hospital on hospital row that has a Jewish Star of David in its logo and the only hospital on hospital row that has deep roots within the Jewish community, has a very clear impact. That impact is antisemitism,” said Noah Shack, vice-president of Countering Antisemitism & Hate with the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

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