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Comment: After weeks of demonstrations, enough is enough

For Jews throughout the world, Oct. 7 is a demarcation in our collective calendar. It marks a day of pure evil.
Protesters at a pro-Palestine rally and march on Government Street on Oct. 22, 2023. TIMES COLONIST

A commentary by the rabbi at Kolot Mayim Reform Temple in Victoria.

Enough is enough.

For 13 weeks, every week, anti-Israel crowds have flooded the grounds of the Legislative Buildings and marched into downtown Victoria.

Their language has been threatening, with chants for Intifada and slogans that call for the end of Israel.

For Jews throughout the world, Oct. 7 is a demarcation in our collective calendar. It marks a day of pure evil.

Hamas terrorists — not militants, not freedom fighters, purely and utterly terrorists — entered Israel and executed Israeli citizens in their beds and at an outdoor dance party.

Teams of coroners in Israel are still, months later, attempting to identify the victims, sometimes from mere ashes.

One of these victims, Vivian Silver, a relative of a Victoria family, was a well-known peace activist who lived near Gaza and worked for decades toward building peace between Israelis and Gazans. Her remains have only recently been identified; her incineration was so complete that her DNA could only be finally identified from ash.

Dust to dust, ash to ash, the ZAKA teams have been working assiduously to provide careful identification of as many victims as they can.

Shortly after Oct. 7, the venom of anti-Zionism and Jew-hatred was released from a barely closed Pandora’s box. Seemingly free rein was given to a relentless venting of anti-Zionism that has filled the streets of Canada, including Victoria.

Jews are frightened, bewildered, and cautious. Many of us are angry. Our concerns for safety have been recognized in part by warnings of potential dangers, for which we are grateful.

But many of us — a great many — wonder why no action is being taken against these large and hateful demonstrations.

The day before New Year’s Eve I became aware that not only was the usual march into downtown Victoria being planned, but that a pro-Hamas (the ruling “government” of Gaza) cavalcade of cars was also being planned.

And that was the time I said enough. Enough is enough.

I posted a note on my Facebook page stating that I would attempt to delay this cavalcade, and urged others to join me.

Mid-day New Year’s Eve I had a call from a Victoria Police ­constable who said they had been notified about my plan and were calling me to caution me against this action.

She assured me repeatedly that the call was being made out of concern for my safety. But what about our collective safety as Jews, I asked her, in the wake of repeated and ugly encounters with the pro-Hamas, anti-Israel crowds whose hatred of Israel was well beyond that particular border, and was increasingly being activated against local Jewish businesses and individuals?

The constable asked me for my plan. When I said I planned to walk back and forth across a crosswalk to delay this cavalcade, I was told that it is illegal to block roadways.

When I pointed out that over the past months Victoria roadways were blocked on a weekly basis, she replied, “We can’t arrest 500 people.”

So not only are we, the people of Victoria, the Jews of Victoria, held by mob rule, not only are Indigo and the Belfry Theatre held by mob rule, apparently our police force is also held back from applying the law by this mob.

After repeated assurances that she/they were only concerned for my/our safety, we ended this call. Meanwhile, unsure of the direction of the cavalcade, I decided we should meet at the gates of Ogden Point. I posted this on my Facebook page.

We watched car after car pull into Ogden Point, waved in by a Palestinian-sympathizer flag bearer. And as we crossed over to walk the crosswalk, we were almost immediately swarmed.

The tactics were out of any anarchist’s handbook. A 33-page manual is circulating with the anti-Zionist crowd outlining tactical manouevres for protests and potential confrontations.

Very concerned with our touching their cars — “personal property” — they were much less concerned with surrounding and shoving and slugging.

A young woman full force slugged my husband on the side of his face, and then ran away. We were outnumbered. But you know, and I know, sometimes you just have to say No.

Enough is enough.

And where were the police while all this was going on? They had to know this group’s plan — they certainly knew mine! They were nowhere to be seen.

When I spoke with the constable that afternoon, I had assured her that I appreciated their concerns and potential for protection.

However, I told her, and I do not stand alone here — the police must not continue to allow these illegal blockades of our streets.

Jews in Victoria are frightened. The father of one of the women with me that night was a survivor of the Shoah. She looked at me and said this feels like 1939.

When you watch the cavalcades of cars blocking airports, or marches of thousands of threatening and yelling pro-Hamas demonstrators, think of what happens if Israel does not fight back.

And as we have watched even our local politicians deny reports of the rape and massacre of Israeli woman — even after an 80-day delay in confirmation by the Israel-hating UN — as Jewish women we feel particularly vulnerable.

We know where hatred, anti-Semitism (a Jew-washing phrase coined by Wilhelm Marr to identify and victimize German Jews) leads. To our rape and murder.

So yes, enough is enough. We want our politicians to also say enough. No more hate-fests on the grounds of the legislature. No more taking over our streets. No more hate-filled cavalcades. No more attacks.

No more screaming and chanting instead of dialogue.

Enough. Enough.

I will attend all upcoming demonstrations. I will hold posters of the Israeli hostages, still illegally held in some dank tunnel in Gaza. We have no idea who is alive and who is dead.

But this Jew is standing up in the face of hate, and saying every week: Enough is enough.

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