Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose denounced the “grotesque slanders” to which Israel is subject in international forums and, in particular, the boycott campaign, when she spoke at Montreal’s annual downtown Israel Day Rally on May 12.
“Across Canada and around the globe, seemingly respectable people call for boycotts of Israeli goods and, even more chillingly, academics and artists,” she said from the stage in Place du Canada. “Let me be clear: what is portrayed as a disagreement over policy is, in fact, driven by something far darker.
“Those who repeatedly seek to single out Israel and hold it to an impossible double standard are motivated by an age-old hatred,” Ambrose continued to the cheers of a crowd of close to 3,000.
Ambrose, who leads the official Opposition, said anti-Semitism is gaining ground, whether on university campuses, in places of worship, or even the “halls of power.”
“We must expose, confront and repudiate this malignancy rooted in lies and fuelled by paranoia, whenever and wherever it appears, because it is an evil so profound that it is a threat to all of us.”
Ambrose saluted Israel’s vibrant democracy, and her personal admiration of its upholding of women’s rights in a region where those rights “continue to be denied.”
The Conservative party, she said, refuses “to make excuses for groups and states that seek to wipe Israel and the Jewish People off the map,” and will stand by those fighting terrorists and extremists.
In a videotaped message projected on a Jumbotron, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s friendship with Israel “will continue to be based on our shared commitment to peace and democracy,” noting that Israel is “on the frontline of democracy in the Middle East.”
This celebration of the 68th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, organized by the grassroots Jewish Unity Partnership, began at Phillips Square, where the young waved Israeli and Canadian flags and enjoyed music, led by DJ Dan Abitbol.
The weather was warm and sunny with little wind. The only detraction from the festivities was the presence, as usual, of about 20 members of the anti-Zionist chassidic group Neturei Karta, who held Palestinian flags. Police confined them to across the street in front of the Hudson’s Bay department store.
Led by Israeli Consul General in Montreal Ziv Nevo Kulman, the crowd then walked along René Lévesque Boulevard to Place du Canada under heavy police escort. At that site, Jewish gospel singer Joshua Nelson of New York on keyboard, joined by Socalled (Josh Dolgin) on drums and two backup vocalists, kept things hopping with spirited renditions of well-known Hebrew songs.
Nevo Kulman stressed that Canada is a good friend of Israel, and that support for Israel is non-partisan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked in his videotaped greetings for each person to take one new action in support of Israel. “Tell a friend the truth about Israel, defend the Israel Defence Forces on Facebook, visit Israel this year,” he said.
Among the other dignitaries present were Montreal Liberal MP Marc Miller; Howard Liebman, an aide to Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre; and mayors Mitchell Brownstein of Côte St. Luc and William Steinberg of Hampstead.