Police in Toronto reportedly are investigating whether an annual Iranian-inspired anti-Israel rally last Saturday crossed the line into illegal hate speech.
Elias Hazineh, a former president of the non-profit Palestine House in Mississauga, spoke to a modest crowd at the annual "Quds Day" rally in Toronto. It is an annual call for Israel's destruction created by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini 34 years ago. It features events in Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, and in North America.
Hazineh invoked Khomeini, saying the late Ayatollah promised that "Jerusalem is ours and will remain forever ours." It is unacceptable, he said, that Jews from Russia and Europe lived where his ancestors did.
"We have to give them an ultimatum," Hazineh said. "You have to leave Jerusalem, you have to leave Palestine … I want to remind you of how police work. When somebody tries to rob a bank, the police gets in. They don't negotiate, and we've been negotiating with them for 65 years. We say: Get out, or you're dead. We give them two minutes, and then we start shooting.
In addition to its inherent threat, Hazineh offered a revisionist view of history with his claim of "negotiating with them for 65 years." That overlooks the Khartoum Resolution's "three no's" regarding Israel: No peace, no recognition and no negotiations that drove the conflict for decades. It remains the ideology of the terrorist group Hamas, which has governed Gaza since 2008.
Similarly hateful rhetoric at past Toronto Quds Day events prompted officials there to deny the group a permit for this year's rally. A rally organizer told the crowd that the event would draw scrutiny and offered an ironic warning.
"Our behavior today will reflect respect, good manners and dignity," he said. "The opposition we face here today represents the oppressors. And from our experience from past encounters, they may try to provoke us through hate speech, aggression, and abusive language … Anyone who incites violence, or preaches intolerance, does not stand with our cause."
But Hazineh's talk of shooting after an ultimatum drew no rebuke. As we have reported previously, such violent and hateful rhetoric is a staple of Quds Day rallies.
Tahir Gora, a liberal Muslim who has been subjected to death threats for his views, criticized the Quds Day rally and the people behind it. "This Al Quds rally is a clear exhibit of Antisemitism," he wrote in a Huffington Post column.
"They create a mess in the month of August every year and give a bad name to Islam and create a false image of Muslims that Islam is a religion of violence and Canadian Muslims are the people who care more about conflicts in the Middle East and hatred against 'Zionists' than their own livelihood in Canada."