Tens of thousands of people packed the streets of Toronto in what was billed as the “National Day of Action for Palestine” on Saturday November 4.
Organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), the downtown rally was supported by several groups and organizations including Independent Jewish Voices and labour groups.
The crowds were so huge that several streets including parts of University Avenue opposite the US Consulate and Queen Street were blocked for traffic.
Rallies have been organized in the wake of Israel’s bombing of tiny Gaza that started on October 7 and are ongoing.
Gaza has been described as the largest open air concentration camp.
The rallies’ aim has been consistent: immediate ceasefire and lifting of the brutal siege of Gaza to allow for immediate humanitarian aid.
The Toronto rally began in front of the US consulate on University Avenue.
After speeches, the rally then marched through the streets of Toronto.
Similar rallies were held in other cities and towns as well.
There was one such rally in Markham in which there were participants from the entire York Region and even Scarborough.
Markham City is located north-east of Toronto and is home to thousands of Muslim families.
There are also several large mosques in Markham.
Speakers at the Markham rally included Said Salameh, a Palestinian, and Ola Al-Anqar, a Palestinian Muslim artist whose family members are trapped in Gaza.
Two members of the Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), Sue Goldstein and Julia Barnett also addressed the rally.
IJV is a grassroots Jewish organization opposed to zionism and has consistently spoken out against Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people.
For years, IJV members have demonstrated outside the Israeli consulate on the busy Yonge and Bloor intersection to denounce Israeli crimes and demand an immediate end to the brutal siege of Gaza.
One of the distinctive features of the Markham rally, in addition to being the first in a city that is viewed as primarily a sleepy residential area, was the presence of so many young children accompanying their parents.
Many parents wishing to join the pro-Palestine rallies in Toronto were unable to do so because of logistical problems of going downtown.
They hoped for a rally to be organized in the north.
The Markham rally provided a perfect opportunity and they joined in large numbers.
More than 20 rallies were held across cities and towns in Canada on November 4.
In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), another rally was held in Mississauga in the west end of the city in the evening.
Collectively, more than 100,000 people participated in these rallies marking one of the largest rallies in Toronto’s history.
The news from Gaza and the West Bank, meanwhile, is heart-breaking.
Some quick figures:
Deaths so far exceed 9,400; 70% women and children;
Israel has bombed schools, apartment buildings, hospitals, medical centres, storage depots and even ambulances.
Bakeries have also not been spared.
These constitute war crimes.
The Canadian government refuses to call for a ceasefire.
During a United Nations General Assembly vote on Friday October 27, calling for humanitarian pause to get food, water, medicines and fuel into Gaza, 120 countries voted for the resolution.
This clearly reflected the will of the international community.
Canada was not one of them.
It abstained. Most Canadians are appalled that their government would not stand up for truth, justice and peace.
Not surprisingly, the US and Israel plus several tiny Pacific Island states like Micronesia, Polynesia, Tuvalo, Samoa etc and four European states, Austria, Croatia, Czechia and Hungary voted against the resolution.
The tiny Pacific Islands are basket cases and survive on handouts from the US.
The European countries, run by neo-Nazis and with a horrible record of persecution of Jews in the past, voted in support of their fellow neo-Nazis running Israel today.
The struggle for peace and justice continues.