Apologists for Israeli crimes are constantly gaslighting Palestinians and their supporters. They seek to make those opposing violence and colonialism feel like oppressors.
Last Friday a rally was held in front of Deputy Prime Minister Christya Freeland’s office in Toronto. Freeland recently declared that “Canada stands with Israel” and when she was foreign minister said Canada would act as an “asset for Israel” on the United Nations Security Council.
The poster announcing the rally declared: “PROTEST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA CHRYSTIA FREELAND OUTSIDE HER TORONTO OFFICE”. During the rally bodies of babies were placed in front of Freeland’s office and at some point a man with an Israeli flag went directly in front of Freeland’s office in a bid to provoke the protesters. There’s video of police intervening and standing in front of the building housing Freeland’s office.
As the rally grew, it reportedly spilled onto the street and intersection directly in front of the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNJCC). According to a Canada Files post, someone came out of the community centre to complain and film the Palestine solidarity rally. Footage was later posted to X claiming a Jewish community centre was targeted by protesters. According to multiple comments online, the initial post was deleted after being bombarded with derisive comments about their inability to look at a map. But Canada United for Israel shared the video tweeting, “Targeting a Jewish community center where there is a kindergarten is pure antisemitism. How can the anti-Israel movement justify scaring children?”
Far right Rebel News founder Ezra Levant quote tweeted that statement claiming “Hamas protesters target a Jewish kindergarten” while the head of the ‘progressive’ media watchdog CanadaLand, Jesse Brown, made a similar claim. The incident was referenced by the Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, National Post and other media.
In a transparent bid to enable Israeli violence and colonialism, apartheid apologists regularly fabricate or distort events to claim victimhood. Over two decades I’ve been privy to repeated examples of this. While I no longer consider the tactic noteworthy, an element of the psychological side of it is. In other domains it would be called gaslighting.
In brief, those screaming loudest “it’s just a Jewish institution that has nothing to do with Israel” are generally best placed to know this is untrue. Those who’ve been through the MNJCC – and similar institutions – know they are deeply Zionistic.
MNJCC operates an “Israel Connection” program and promotes the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Toronto’s annual Walk for Israel. It hosted and cosponsored an Israeli general’s talk, which was held in tandem with the Israeli consulate.
The Thomas & Marjorie Schwartz preschool centre & Junior Kindergarten housed there has three pictures posted on MNJCC’s site. In one the kindergartners are smiling with an Israeli and Canadian flag hanging on the wall. In its “core elements” the kindergarten describes “Israel as a Source and Resource”.
The MNJCC elementary school shows a picture with dozens of Israeli flags. On its Instragram the Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School (DJDS) recently posted that “Jewish people have always had and always will have a relationship with Israel. We continue to stand in solidarity with Israel.” Days into that country’s horrific siege and violence in Gaza, DJDS posted on October 13 that “classes created inspirational cards for Israeli soldiers, and sent cards full of well wishes to former classmates now living in Israel.” The MNJCC school’s site notes, “Each year, our school warmly welcomes two young Israelis to the Paul Penna DJDS community. We are delighted to partner with UJA Federation, the Downtown Jewish Community School, and The First Narayever Congregation on this fantastic initiative. These teens have completed high school and have chosen to defer their army service in order to become Israeli ambassadors or ‘shlichim’, spending a year focused on presenting contemporary Israel to our students in passionate, creative ways.”
MNJCC has deep ties to UJA Toronto, which brings young Israeli ‘shlichim’ to live with Toronto families so they can do outreach in schools and community organizations. At the top of UJA’s website, which is prominently linked on the MNJCC site, is an Israel financial appeal and its official advocacy arm is the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
Alongside a link to UJA Toronto, MNJCC’s site links prominently to the JCC Association of North America. The top of that site notes “JCCs of North America Stand With Israel”.
MNJCC’s namesake funded a major project at the racist Jewish National Fund’s Canada Park, which is built on the remnants of three Palestinian villages in the West Bank. On the board of the JCC, Miles Nidal is a staunch anti-Palestinian.
Even if the target of Friday’s protest had been the JCC it would be altogether legitimate (though considering the political climate, organizers should seek to detail the JCC’s anti-Palestinianism in promotional literature). No organization that promotes and defends Israel the way MNJCC does can then claim, “we are simply Jews, not backing Israel” when it becomes convenient to deny the connection.
It’s highly manipulative for individuals who know the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre is part of a network of anti-Palestinian institutions to claim protesting it is antisemitic. Call the complaints what they really are: gaslighting.