A protest by several hundred pro-Palestinian students against an event which hosted Israeli army reservists which took place at York University in Toronto on Wednesday night.
The anti-Zionist group Students Against Israeli Apartheid led the protest after campaigning for days against the event, in an attempt to stop the event taking place.
Videos posted to social media showed a united peaceful protest chanting of “Free, free Palestine,” “Viva viva Palestina”, “Occupation is a crime,” “viva intifada” – a reference to popular Palestinian uprising against Israel.
Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University called on supporters to turn up at the university on Wednesday evening and tell the university’s administration that “we will not tolerate war criminals on our campus.”
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) November 21, 2019
The students’ message to @yorkuniversity was loud & clear yesterday: war criminals actively participating in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine & in violations of Palestinian human rights are not welcome on our campus! Thanks to everyone who showed up! #yorku pic.twitter.com/qsZlLbBW9v
— SAIA York (@SaiaYork) November 21, 2019
The event was organised by Herut Canada, a branch of a resurgent movement with a long history in Israeli politics. Herut Zionism is a movement that has relaunched on campuses in Britain and Canada, describing itself as “unapologetic Zionism”. It brought together a number if army reservists to talk about the occupation.
Demonstrators who filled the building’s hallway were met with disruptive pro-Israeli protestors holding Israeli flags as they started pushing and responded to the Palestinian chants with foul language, and slogans “Hamas is a terrorist organisation” and “Say hey, say ho, Palestine has got to go”.
Video footage showed physical altercations breaking out outside the event hall as the presentation began before police intervened.
Toronto police told Global News officers were on scene for the protest and while it was “largely peaceful”, some scuffles did break out.
A pro-Israeli protester was seen approaching members taking part in the pro-Palestine protest wearing the red “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) cap and shouting insults and swear words at the demonstrators.
Does anyone know the name of the kid with the racist MAGA hat?
— shatha (@ShathaAyman) November 22, 2019
— Mashaal (@Mashyyyy) November 21, 2019
The protest comes as Canada backed a resolution to support the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people adopted by the UN General Assembly during a session of the Third Committee.
It also comes after the US’ announcement that it no longer considers Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal, reversing decades of US foreign policy.