rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Hundreds protest fatal attack on Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

“Israel is a terrorist state that committed an act of piracy that killed nine innocent people on a ship in international waters. And we’re here today to say to the Harper government: Stop your uncritical support of Israel, no matter what they do.”

Rafeef Ziadah stood on the back of a pickup truck across the street from the Israeli Consulate addressing a crowd of over 1,000 protesters.

“It’s completely lunatic and pathetic to say that Israel should investigate itself,” she said. “That’s just hypocrisy and we won’t stand for it.”

The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) organizer and third generation Palestinian refugee was speaking Saturday at global day of action called for by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions national committee (BNC).

As they gathered in Toronto, thousands more came together around the world to hold the Israelis accountable for “war crimes” committed last week against the Freedom Flotilla carrying aid and supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Five years ago, Palestine called for boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law.

“It is beautiful to see what must be over a thousand people out here today supporting that call,” said Jenny Peto, an organizer with CAIA. “We stand in a country where Stephen Harper stands beside Netanyahu as he makes excuses for war crimes.”

As protesters continued to demonstrate, new flotillas forged ahead to bring supplies and aid to Gaza. But the crew and activists aboard the MV Rachel Corrie were expected to be deported on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Reporters without Borders and the Free Palestine movement have launched the Naji Al Ali Flotilla, which will sail with humanitarian aid from Lebanon some time next week.  

As a proud Jew, Michael Mandel said it was “very painful to join another angry protest against Israel”  before he spoke about the legalities of the attack last week on the Mavi Marmara that left nine dead and scores injured.

“We know that Israel’s war against Hamas is part of the is part of an aggression against the entire Palestinian people that has been going on for 43 years,” said Mandel who teaches Criminal Law, Advanced Criminal Law, International Criminal Law, The Law of War, Legal Politics and Modern Constitutionalism in Comparative Perspective at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.

“The blockade is not about security. The whole world knows and most Israelis must know it too. It’s about occupation and settlements. What’s more it’s a crime in Canada against the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Act punishable by life imprisonment to every official that sets foot in this country.”

Mandel said it’s also a crime to aid and abet war criminals, making Stephen Harper as guilty as if he had committed those crimes himself.

Since the occupation is illegal and is maintained by military force, it constitutes what Mandel called a supreme international crime of aggression, adding “an aggressor has no right to self-defense against the victims of his aggression when they resist that aggression or against people who come to their aid.”

“This is common sense,” said Mandel. “It’s the law of Canada and it’s the law on the high seas.”

On the north side of Bloor street, a small contingent with their Canadian and Israeli flags flapping in the wind carried signs that read “Long Live Israel” and “Cut Government Funding of Palestine House” and stood behind barricades in front of a wall of police officers.

Similarly, Palestinian supporters were corralled tightly behind barricades and a line of police in front of the Royal Ontario Museum.

But that didn’t stop the two sides from trading barbs with each other.

Former ITN and BBC correspondent Alan Hart, who has extensive experience as a journalist covering International affairs and Middle East politics, reminded the crowd that most people can see Israel’s attack on the flotilla as “an act of Israeli state terrorism.”

The problem, said Hart, is that the Canadian and U.S. governments won’t hold Israel accountable to international law.

“Now that won’t happen until our governments are forced to act by the pressure of informed public opinion. Demonstrations like this are part of the process of change that must happen, but there’s a much bigger challenge to all of us: We’ve got to become politically engaged to make our democracies work for justice and peace.

“If we fail to be part of the process of calling Israel to account, then Israel will take all of us to hell. Don’t let it happen.”

Click here to see photos from the rally and march.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.