Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
‘We stand with Israel,’ Heritage Minister says; Support rally

TORONTO – Over the past week, Shirin Ezekiel has been in a constant state of worry.

Her parents are back home in Israel, in a village just outside of Tel Aviv where wailing sirens warn of imminent rocket attacks from Hamas.

Last Thursday night, at least 10 of her friends and relatives were called to the Israeli reserves and are now camped out awaiting the next move. She knows she would be with them if she and her husband hadn’t moved to Toronto four years ago.

“I’m very worried, I’m checking my phone all the time,” she said. “It feels really strange. I’m not used to being so far away.”

As airstrikes continue to rain down in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip, thousands of concerned Jewish Canadians gathered in Toronto to stand in solidarity with a nation that once again finds itself in the crossfire.

More than 2,000 people packed a sprawling north Toronto synagogue Monday night, waving Israeli and Canadian flags and applauding the support of the Canadian government and the Jewish community.

“Make no mistake,” Heritage Minister James Moore told the gathered crowd, which overflowed by the hundreds in other satellite locations. “Those who pose a threat to the existence of Israel pose a threat to us all. That is why we must, regardless of political stripe or persuasion, come together as Canadians and say enough is enough.”

The minister, dispatched to represent the government, echoed the position of Mr. Harper — “a man whose support for Israel is unshakable and unyielding” — in saying the government is morally obligated to take a stand.

“It is under his leadership that we have done exactly that. Under no uncertain terms, we made it clear that the government of Canada holds the terrorist entity Hamas responsible for the recent escalation in the region.

“Now is not the time for ambiguity. Now is a time when the free, democratic nations of the world must unite and say, we stand with Israel.

His words, meant he said not as a partisan speech but as a rallying call to Israel’s allies, received a standing ovation.

People in the Toronto Jewish community and beyond have been sitting, waiting, watching and worried since last Wednesday when rocket fire surged between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that now holds control of the coastal Gaza Strip, said Steven Schulman campaign director for the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

“People want to come together and want to send a message that this terror is unacceptable, that the people of Canada — both the Jewish community and the broader community find it an awful situation and it has to stop.”

The rally, organized by UJA and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, was called as Egypt worked to broker a ceasefire to end the escalating conflict and the death toll in Gaza hit 109 Monday evening.

“Despite the difficulties, the terror and the trauma, the dislocation and the trauma, the uncertainty and loss of life, despite all these things, I’m here tonight to tell you Israel is strong,” said DJ Schneeiweiss, Consul General of Israel for Ontario and Western Canada.

Full article can be found on the National Post website, here.