By FRANCES KRAFT
Canadian Jewish News Staff Reporter
TORONTO – Marchers bearing Canadian, American and Israeli flags held signs denouncing hatred and supporting democracy during Sunday’s Canadian March for Humanity and a subsequent rally in Queen’s Park.
The event, attended by an estimated 600 people, was organized by a new grassroots group, Canadians Against Antisemitism, spearheaded by Sandra Stern.
Following the 15-minute walk to the site of the Ontario government, formalities included addresses from a dozen speakers, including politicians and Jewish, Christian and Sikh clergy.
Stern said she hoped to take the event across Canada in the near future. "People can change the world. They can make a difference," she said.
Our peaceful society "must remain a beacon," said Art Eggleton, Liberal MP for York Centre and Canada’s former defence minister. Canada must stand with the people of Israel in the fight against terrorism, he said.
Liberal senator Jerry Grafstein noted that anti-Semitism "starts with Jews, but it never ends with Jews."
On behalf of the New Democratic Party, Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin denounced "in the strongest possible terms the disturbing rise of anti-Semitic incidents" both here and abroad. He attributed the rise in anti-Semitism, at least in part, to the portrayal of Israel in the media.
Sgt. Johnnie Stevens, a black veteran of one of the first U.S. army battalions to liberate the concentration camps, said it was because of people such as those at the rally that the United States had changed its discriminatory ways.
Max Eisen, who was liberated by Stevens’ all-Black battalion, said he was greatly heartened to see people of different faiths at the event.
McGill University history professor Gil Troy said he always felt invulnerable as a member of the post-war generation. "My philosophical world came crashing down…We must respond with facts to all the lies."
Hate, venom and evil are powerful forces, said Rabbi Reuven Bulka of Ottawa’s Congregation Machzikei Hadas. It’s important to speak out against them, but it’s also important to insist to police and government representatives that evil is given "no quarter whatsoever."