The rally moved over to the Sir John A. MacDonald Memorial statue located on the corner of Rene Leveques and Peel, close to the Israeli consulate.
Joining the Palestinians where groups such as the Jewish Alliance Against The Occupation, and Rabbinical representatives from Neturei Karta, who are a group of Orthodox Jews who refuse to recognize the existence or authority of the "State of Israel" and make a point of publicly demonstrating their position, of what they say is "the position of the Torah and authentic unadulterated Judaism." They argue that the entire concept of a sovereign Jewish state is contrary to Jewish Law, and that, according to their website: "All the great rabbis who in accordance with Jewish Law opposed Zionism at its inception did not do so merely due to consideration of the secular lifestyles of the then Zionist leaders or even for their opposition to Torah heritage and rejection of its values and practices, but due to the fact that the entire concept of a Jewish state is in direct conflict with a number of Judaism's fundamentals." (4)
As the pro-Palestinian demonstrators stood on one side of Rene Leveques street, many zionists walked by and made racist statements against the Arabs present and very disrespectful comments directed at the Rabbis, with one Jewish man saying "Hitler made a mistake by not finishing you off years ago."
The whole scene was so sickening and disgusting as I witnessed Jewish youth treating their elders and learned Rabbis, who were visibly Jewish from their religious dress, with such utter contempt and disrespect.
As the rally began to break up after some time, the zionist protesters started coming towards the pro Palestinian counter protestors. A spokesperson from the Neturei Karta started denouncing the zionist enterprise even more vocally via a mega-phone.
He boldly proclaimed for all those present to hear: "We are here to let the world know that we should not equate zionism with Judaism."
"True Judaism has always been in opposition to the State of Israel. Judaism Yes, Zionism No!" he stated
"We, the Jewish people, are forbidden to oppress a people, and the true Jewish people are compassionate and are taught to emulate God, and God is compassionate and the Jewish people are compassionate," he continued.
"We mourn what is being committed in the name of Judaism by the zionists, including the usurping of land, and the oppression of the Palestinian people," he added.
He referred to the zionists as "thieves" and stated that the Jewish people lived in harmony and unison for hundreds of years with their Arab brothers," and they even babysat each others children.
This message, not surprisingly, enraged the zionist listeners.
By this time a shouting match started on both sides and the real hatred of the zionists towards anyone Arab or those supporting them became evident. A torrent of racist comments came pouring out of their mouths and a tidal wave of hate was made manifest.
By this time more than 40 riot cops appeared out of nowhere and completely surrounded the pro Palestinian demonstrators. This encouraged the zionists even more.
As the small group, consisting of both Jews and Arabs, were escorted off, they were spat upon numerous times and many racist comments were hurled at them. One Jewish pro-Palestinian supporter who was spat upon stated later she was eager to get home quickly to take a shower as she was covered with spit.
The pro Palestinians were forcibly moved to a nearby underground parking lot by the riot police, and then let go one by one.
Later, a small group of the Palestinian activists stood on the corner of St. Cathrine and Peel streets on the sidewalk handing out information flyers about the plight of the Palestinian people, the present day conditions of the Palestinian refugees and their right of return under existing international law.
Some police officers ordered them to disperse or they would be fined, even though they were not causing a disruption or breaking any law. Several pro-zionist Jewish demonstrators were also on the other side of the street with their flags and banners but they were not asked to leave nor did the police even go near them.
While all this was happening, however, a small incident struck my attention. A Rabbi, who was with the zionists, walked by. He did not say anything, but he just barely got by the small Palestinian group and he was stopped by a beggar on the street, and elderly lady, asking for a bit of spare change. There was a moment of hesitation on his part. The words of the other Rabbi quickly came to my mind: "The true Jewish people are compassionate and are taught to emulate God, and God is compassionate and the Jewish people are compassionate." He slowly reached for his pocket and pulled out some money. He dropped a two dollar coin into her hand and, with a littler coaxing from her, handed her yet another two dollar coin, and then he walked away.
For that brief moment I admired that man, as he exhibited the compassion that the other Rabbi was talking about. I secretly hoped that someday he too would reach into the recesses of his heart and show that same compassion to the Palestinian people and reach out to them with a message of peace a true reconciliation. The seeds of compassion are already there, and there always hope.