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NDP MP, protesters repeat blood libels at anti-Israel hatefest

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Rana Abdulla of the Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba (CPAM) spoke prior to an unauthorized flag raising ceremony outside the City of Winnipeg Susan A. Thompson Building at 510 Main St. on Sunday. (Screencap: Facebook)

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Realizing there was little public support for the decision to defy a City Hall refusal to host a Palestinian flag raising – and with Winnipeg police in constant contact – a far smaller and less boisterous crowd was gathered by organizers for this year’s “Nakba Day” event.

Made up of a mix of Palestinians and other Muslims, anti-Israel Mennonite peace groups and far-left academics and organizations, about 100 people gathered at the civic campus courtyard including a sizable number of children.

That was a far cry from last year’s violent protest on Broadway, which had about 600 participants and included members of Antifa and other belligerent radical antisemitic movements. The 2021 version of “Nakba Day” in Winnipeg was marred by physical attacks on a pro-Israel rally across the street, the theft and burning of Israeli flags, and calls to rape and stab Jews. Accordingly, police, city hall officials and various community stakeholders were on edge about a potential repeat in 2022. 

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Our story last week broke the news that “Nakba Day” (aka Nakba 74) organizers had not disclosed that their request for a formal civic ceremony had been denied, and were advertising the event with the insinuation it had official City sanction. That ambiguous language was accompanied by very unambiguous language assailing Israel and Zionism. After news of the refusal got out, their ire was expanded to include Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.

A number of supportive posts contained provocatory statements that the main players in the pro-Palestinian community rarely repeat to mainstream media locally, where they strike a more conciliatory tone. One post of the Canadian Palestinian Association of Manitoba proclaimed:

“Now more than ever we need everyone to come to city Hall to show @mayorbrianbowman that Palestinians and Palestinians lives matter. The city of Winnipeg refused to raise the Palestinian flag clearly sending a message that Palestine and Palestinians don’t matter to our Mayor. WE WILL RAISE THE PALESTINIAN FLAG AT CITY HALL REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE MAYORS OFFICE HAS TO SAY!

Bring your flags, kuffeyia and signs!”

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Set up in the central courtyard between the council and administration building, the rally proceeded on Sunday with about a dozen police on-site and another dozen or so in the vicinity. Flags, placards and signs were carried and slogans such as “Free Palestine” were scrawled in chalk on the sidewalks and City Hall staircases.

As explained by Rev. Don James in another article in TheJ.ca this week:

“Four speakers presented the usual narrative of what made May 1948 a catastrophe (Nakba in Arabic) for the Palestinians. According to this narrative, with no provocation, the Israelis forced the Palestinians at gunpoint to leave their homes, 750,000 of them. Two women described this process occurring to their relatives in Haifa, the northern port city which had then and now has a majority Arab population… There were numerous references to the apartheid and oppression that Palestinians suffer today under the “illegal Israeli military occupation”.”

One of those speakers was Winnipeg Center MP Leah Gazan of the far-left New Democratic Party.

Hopping on the disinformation bandwagon, she solemnly intoned her “solidarity for the brutal murder of Shireen”, infering that the IDF shot Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in the midst of a firefight with terrorists in Jenin last week.

Gazan called the Israeli actions an interference in a free press and claimed it was “a bash on democracy”, telling the assembly “What is happening in Palestine is apartheid… We can only be liberated until all of us are liberated.” 

After being refused a formal civic ceremony to raise their flag, the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Palestinian Association claimed “Palestine and Palestinians don’t matter according to our Mayor.” (Image: Facebook)

Explaining that the civic policy was to raise only the flags of actual countries, and not hypothetical ones, was too inconvenient for organizers to disclose as it would undercut their attempt to frame the refusal of Mayor Bowman to authorize the event as a prejudicial act.

Pro-Palestinian supporters repeated the smear, such as this post found on Facebook: “Today attended the Flag raising Ceremony of the Palestinian Communities of The NAKBA. Very shameful that the Winnipeg City Council- Brian Bowman- refused to give permission to have the Flag flown at City Hall.”

Meanwhile, as James explained, “I chose to observe the Nakba Rally at Winnipeg’s City Hall…  it appeared that the police were mostly interested in people like me, of whom I identified four in attendance… Winnipeg Police chose the strategy of keeping observers of the rally at a distance, even threatening me with arrest if I approached the crowd.” He wasn’t the only one, as the head of the Israeli Canadian Council was also targeted by police.

Ron East, who is publisher of TheJ.ca, was contacted by police 10 days prior to the event and told them the ICC was not going to hold a May 15 celebration of Israel’s independence declaration as was done last year. In cooperation with the police, ICC would not organize any counter-protest. Despite police saying they had no issue with East going to see what might transpire, he was double-crossed when he arrived.

Immediately after the event, East posted online that “I was threatened with arrest today for attending the annual Nakba Day protest to bear witness to their lies and gather intelligence on their speakers and signs. I was prevented from crossing the street and had police surrounding me the whole time. Several Palestinians carrying flags crossed the street and confronted me only to be met by police who were surrounding me.”

East noted, “This didn’t stop the Palestinian side from hurling insults at me calling me a ‘baby killer’ and telling me to ‘go eat babies.’”

The view from Main Street of the annual anti-Israel “Nakba Day” protest in Winnipeg. Iran frames “Nakba Day (as) a reflection of Zionist regime’s crimes against defenseless Palestine.” (Photo: ICC)

East further stated that the police told him they were not going to stop the defiant gathering from using a City Hall flagpole to hoist the Palestinian flag, even though the Manager of Protocol in Mayor Bowman’s office had refused permission.

A City communications officer told TheJ.ca, “The City’s Municipal Accommodations division is responsible for the care and maintenance of the Council Building and Susan A. Thompson Building at 510 Main St.” Asked who could authorize the use of the flagpoles, they responded, “Depending on the scenario, a number of parties are involved in these discussions including the Manager of Protocol, the Mayor’s Office, Council, and/or other levels of government as warranted.”

Since the Winnipeg Police Service is not a “level of government”, and a level of government had actually already refused the flag raising request, we had a follow-up question:

Do the police have the authority to permit unauthorized use of the flag poles at 510 Main Street?”

We did not receive a response by press time but will be following up.

City Councilor Shawn Nason, who has tried to have the flag ceremony policy revised to no avail, told Thej.Ca, “I’m pleased that the event was not covered in negatives like was witnessed last year. I encourage Winnipeg’s Palestinian and Israeli communities to sit down and discuss their differences and find common ground. We’ve seen cultural divides & territorial disputes from afar be mitigated in some local communities & I hope this to can be resolved.”

We did not receive a response before deadline from either the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, or B’nai Brith Canada to our inquiries for comment. A local representative of B’nai Brith was at the “Nakba Day” scene but has not indicated what was seen or heard. The Federation, meanwhile, was strongly challenged before the event by a donor about their do-nothing approach to such antisemitic, anti-Zionist protests, which TheJ.ca will report on further next week. 

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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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!

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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