25,000 were reported at Toronto's Al-Quds rally Saturday, "the largest in our history…and they were calling for a Free Gaza, Free Palestine. One hundred per cent free...no pathetic smoke-and-mirrors, Swiss-cheese "Two State solution."
The global Al-Quds Day demonstrations occur annually. According to organizers, in Toronto's history this was the largest, and the most pluralistic, including not only the usual Canadian Peace Alliance, Palestine House, Independent Jewish Voices, and other core affiliations, as well as numerous faiths, but new faces. Many of them, and many from all walks of life and ages, so-said a Cuban solidarity activist who has been standing for justice for over a decade, if not more.
On the ground, behind the speaker's pick-up truck podium, I could only see the immediate masses, which were already overwhelming. But organizers standing in the greater vicinity of Queen's Park noted 5,000, which grew as we marched an hour later to amass in front of the representative of Gangster number One: the U.S. Embassy, for it is the U.S. which funds and vetoes UN resolutions for the Zionist regime. By the end of the speeches in from of the Embassy, organizers cited as many as 25,000 supporters of peace and justice spilling down the avenue.
At Queen's Park, there was an insignificant number of pro-genocidalists, pro-Zionists, who waved that flag and blasted inappropriately cheerful music.
And, as I said when I got up to speak, they are cheering the murders of Palestinians. One needs not take my word for it, just look at the many images of Zionists in Sderot lining up on the sofas and chairs, popcorn in hand, to watch the life and neighbourhood-flattening massive bombs be dropped upon Gaza. I've not yet seen images of them cheering when the skin-eating, horrific, 2009 and 2014-used White Phosphorous bombs are dropped on this bombshelter-less population with nowhere to flee (and even when they do flee, their places of refuge are bombed), but sadly won't be surprised when such pictures emerge, much like emerged t-shirts celebrating the killing of Palestinian children and pregnant women in 2009.
Since so many amazing speakers, female and male, young, older, Arab and non-Arab, had already spoken of the criminal massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the rest of Palestine, I used my seven minutes to offer a personal perspective of Gaza under the Zionist bombs, and to highlight both the corporate media/Western narrative's use of the word "indiscriminate" when speaking of Resistance's rockets, and the legitimacy of the Right to Resist. [see: Resist]
Regarding the former, is it not discriminate, far more so, the Zionists' use of one- and two-ton bombs on entire neighbourhoods, on schools and shelters and hospitals? Their use of White Phosphorous on the same areas? Their use of the flesh-tearing, wide-reaching flechette shells on those areas and on medics? Their use of other banned bombs, including DIME, which doctors in Gaza are again reporting having been used?
Re the latter, the Right to Resist is enshrined in international law, specifically the UN General Assembly. Very unfortunately, well-meaning Palestine solidarity supporters either fear speaking of the right to resist, or simply aren't aware they are negating it. Speaking of BDS is fine and good, it has its place in our society. But to expect Palestinians being bombed to simply say, "I'm not buying Zionist hummus," and NOT resist by any means possible is patronizing and colonial. As my friend Joe Catron, now in Gaza, said over the phone last night: "Every Palestinian and every supporter in Gaza is behind the Resistance."
Somehow for many, when an army is fighting using modern weaponry, it is palatable. They are a sanctioned army (no matter how criminal in most cases their actions are, á la Iraq, etc). It is up to these people being oppressed, savagely so, to determine how they resist. And while the call to BDS did originate in Palestine, it is not the only means of resistance, so we need to stop saying that in well-intentioned chants.
As a friend, Sukant Chandan, elegantly and poignantly said:
"Yes the resistance rockets are terrifying. Well that's fine, give us your F-16s, give us your tanks, so-called ‘Israel', and you can have the rockets, you can have the AK-47s. What we have is a largely defenseless population who has been usurped historically, who have been boxed into a ghetto of nearly two million people, in a tiny strip of land...and these people haven't got the right to resist? Absolutely Palestinians have the right to resist, and they should have more rockets, they should have better rockets, and they should have a Resistance that can match conventionally one of the biggest genocidal entities on the plant, which is the white, colonial state of ‘Israel'.
We need to focus on our lexicon, how we support the oppressed. We need to work on changing this lexicon amongst ourselves and call it out in the media.
Foreign terrorists in Syria are not resisting. They are slaughtering and destroying.
Palestinians under occupation are resisting, it is up to them to choose how, and it is their right.
And that's a sad but true reality: we don't hear this in Canada. That needs to change, here and elsewhere.
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