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City Councilor told: “request was declined. We are not raising the flag of Palestine”

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After the office of Mayor Brian Bowman declined a request for an official flag raising ceremony in Winnipeg, Nakba Day organizers walked a fine line by forging ahead with their plan. They boldly added the flag raising to their commemoration event name, making it resemble a sanctioned City Hall event. (Images: CPAM)

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Organizers of an anti-Zionist rally in Winnipeg are not letting City Hall keep them down.

After learning their request for a “Nakba Day” ceremony to raise a Palestinian flag on May 15 was refused, they didn’t cancel it – but instead continued to portray their event as a formal civic affair, and doubled down by adding the flag raising to the title of the Facebook page.

Flag-raising ceremonies have been a contentious issue within the confines of Winnipeg City Hall in recent years. One councilor attuned to the issue was alarmed to learn of social media invitations for the public to gather there on Sunday, as no memo had been received by council members.

Councilor Shaun Nason was provided an example of the call to action by the Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba (CPAM): “Palestine Nakba Day Commemoration. The Palestinian Flag will be raised at Winnipeg City Hall on May 15,” the posting said. “We need as many people to come out and show everyone that we will not rest until Palestine is free”. 

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The webpage of the Mayor’s Office advises that flag raisings at 510 Main Street have a process to follow:

“We are pleased to fly national flags at City Hall to commemorate a country’s historic day… All requests are required in writing and sent to the Mayor’s Office by mail, fax, or Email.” The current mayor is the outbound Brian Bowman, a rapid transit-touter who is retiring from civic politics.

Going through correspondence in February 2020, TheJ.ca confirmed city policy at the time stated, “The request should contain the specifics of why the request is being made, the preferred date and time. Once requests are received they are reviewed and responded to accordingly.”

Nason sent an inquiry to the Manager of Protocol on May 10 about whether a flag was being raised next Sunday over the Susan A. Thompson building, and received the following response:

“Good morning Councillor Nason: We did receive a request however it was declined. We are not raising the flag of Palestine.”

“I verified with the Manager of Protocol that an official flag raising was not approved,” Nason told TheJ.ca.

However Nakba Day organizers decided to sidestep civic formalities. Another council member contacted TheJ.ca to reiterate the city was having nothing to do with it.

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The original cover photo for the Facebook event page called it “Nakba Commemoration”. This week – despite Mayor Bowman’s refusal to host the event – the name was altered to “Nakba Commemoration and Palestinian Flag Raising at City Hall”, inferring that the City administration is hosting a formal historic flag raising ceremony.

“Join us as we commemorate the Palestinian Nakba by raising the Palestinian flag at Winnipeg City Hall!” organizers state on the Facebook page. Palestinian radicals created “Nakba Day” as a way to denounce the anniversary of the date Israel replaced the British Mandate on May 15, 1948 and distort the history of Jewish roots in the Holy Land and the displacement of Jews through Arab lands. The event description proceeds to characterize the founding of the State of Israel through an Islamist lens:

“The Nakba, or catastrophe, saw the destruction of Palestinian society and their homeland in 1948. Over 750,000 Palestinians were permanently displaced and many of their descendants still live in refugee camps. The Nakba continues today, as Israel occupies the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza strip and treats its own Palestinian citizens as 2nd class citizens.”

Event activities will include:

*Raising of a Palestinian flag

*Visual representation of the over 500 Palestinian villages whose inhabitants were dispossessed in 1948.

* Hear from Palestinians of how the Nakba has impacted their lives and the lives of their families.”

The event description concludes, “Please respect that we are gathering in the spirit of peace and justice, and there will be zero tolerance of racist or disrespectful language, actions or imagery.”

Last year’s May 15 Nakba commemoration in Winnipeg was quite the opposite.

It was marred by pro-Palestinian activists charging police lines across from the provincial legislature, and attacking an Israeli Canadian Council rally marking the anniversary of Israeli independence. They were struck with rocks, bottles and fists, amid calls to stab and rape Jews in specific local neighborhoods. Two ICC flags of Israel were swiped and set alight in front of police. B’nai Brith Canada called for hate crime charges to be laid at the time

The Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba described their planned City Hall flag raising for Winnipeg as a ‘historic moment’, and at the bottom of their poster referenced “Remember 1948”. Palestinian radicals created “Nakba Day” as a way to denounce the anniversary of the date Israel replaced the British Mandate on May 15, 1948.  (Photo: Facebook)

This event is co-sponsored by groups: Students for Justice in Palestine, University of Manitoba; Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba; Canada-Palestine Network Winnipeg; Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid; Mennonite Church Manitoba Palestine-Israel Network; Independent Jewish Voices – Winnipeg, and “with the support of numerous individuals.”

The organizers – called “Hosts” in Facebook lingo – are listed as Harold Shuster, Byron Rempel-Burkholder, Elizabeth Carlyle, Idris Elbakri, Joan Jarvis, Joanna Hiebert-Bergen, and Ramsey Zeid.

Typical of the anti-Israel lobby in Manitoba, it appears only 2 of the 7 are Muslim; with the other people associated with various far-left radical groups and Mennonite ‘peace’ movements.

Over the course of a week the organizers rolled out announcements of  their high-profile speakers, including a far-left NDP inner city MP, Leah Gazan. Also scheduled to be speaking is a member of the dissident Red River Echoes Metis faction, Breanne Lavallée-Heckert; a frequent commentator in local media, radiologist Dr. Idris Elbakri; and longtime community organizer and restauranteur Mrs. Rana Abdulla.  

Anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour in Winnipeg in 2019, with Harold Shuster, who was Independent Jewish Voices Steering Committee Chair. (Photo: Facebook)

TheJ.ca contacted B’nai Brith Canada, who were asked what happened to their hate crime complaint of last year, as well as how they believe the community should respond to this gathering.

“I am aware of this event and plan to observe,” was the only comment initially provided by Manitoba Regional Director, Dr. Ruth Ashwari. Asked when she found out about the City Hall flag raising plan she added, “I found out about this event from internet postings. With regards to your second question (about what police did with the hate crimes complaint), I will let you know as soon as I can.”

TheJ.ca also reached out to Gustavo Zentner, president of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. 

He was asked if Federation was aware of the Palestinian flag raising and Nakba commemoration at City Hall, if they were going to advise the community it was taking place, and how the radicalization of Canadian youth during events such as this is being mitigated. Communications lead Adam Levy replied, “Gustavo and Elaine (Goldstein, the CEO) are not available for comment at this time.”

Levy, a longtime local CIJA representative, was asked if he could comment further on the planned flag raising event, or on CIJA’s views on the anti-Israel radicalization of youth, but was unable to reply before our deadline.

Marty Gold is the Editor-in -Chief of TheJ.ca. Known for investigative reporting, he has specialized in covering municipal and provincial politics, and a wide range of sports and entertainment, in newspapers, magazines, online, and on his first love, radio. His business and consulting experience includes live events and sales, workplace safety, documentary productions, PR, and telecommunications in Vancouver, Los Angeles and across Canada, and as a contestant on CBC-TV Dragons Den.

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We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

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Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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