B’nai Brith Canada is apoplectic, but for all the wrong reasons.
On August 29, 2018, dozens of supporters of Palestinian human rights gathered across the street from B’nai Brith’s head office to protest its smear campaign against the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).
Like many unions around the world, CUPW has resolved to support Palestinians’ call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
In its smear campaign, B’nai Brith accused CUPW of having aligned itself with the Palestinian Postal Services Workers Union (PPSWU), which B’nai Brith claims is ‘pro-terrorist’.
In response, the PPSWU issued a statement in which it categorically denied B’nai Brith’s accusations and condemned its attack as part of an “aggressive defamation campaign which is being led by Israel’s far-right government and lobby groups… with the aim of demonizing the Palestinian people, suppressing solidarity with the our struggle for freedom, justice and equality, restricting freedom of expression, and shielding Israel’s illegal occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheidfrom being held accountable to international law.”
Other trade union groups, including Brazil’s CSP-Conlutas and the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles, also issued statements in which they expressed solidarity with CUPW and the PPSWU in the face of B’nai Brith’s smear campaign.
Before the August 29 rally, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) issued a press release falsely claiming that the rally had been organized without CUPW’s knowledge or consent. In fact, organizers of the rally (of which I am one) had already made senior CUPW officials aware of the rally, following which CUPW issued a statement expressing gratitude to its allies for opposing the smear campaign.
Shortly after the rally’s organizers publicized their intention to hold a demonstration in support of CUPW, the Jewish Defence League (JDL) announced that it would hold a counter-protest at the same time and place. The JDL’s inflammatory and outlandish announcement described the rally as a “pro terror march in the middle of the Jewish community.”
As I have written previously, the JDL is a motley collection of violent, racist, Islamophobic hate-mongers. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has categorized the JDL as a “violent extremist Jewish organization,” while the Southern Poverty Law Center describes the JDL as “a radical organization that preaches a violent form of anti-Arab, Jewish nationalism.” Within the past year, two members of JDL Canada have been charged with a hate crime by police in Washington D.C. The charges arose from the savage mob-beating of a defenceless and elderly Palestinian man. In May 2018, one of the accused failed to appear for a court hearing in Washington. A warrant was then issued for his arrest.
B’nai Brith’s head office is situated on Hove Street in North York, Ontario. It is steps away from Sheppard Avenue, a major thoroughfare. On the day of the rally, we arrived at Hove Street about one hour before the rally was scheduled to begin. Supporters of B’nai Brith, led by JDL Canada boss Meir Weinstein, had already begun to gather on the sidewalk nearest to B’nai Brith’s office. We therefore gathered on a sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. Toronto police officers were already present and positioned themselves between the two groups.
The demonstration lasted for approximately two hours. Throughout that time, the counter-protesters sought continuously to drown out the chants and speeches on our side by using bull-horns, speakers and whistles and by hurling at us an almost continuous stream of insults and Islamophobic hysteria. Dave Bleakney, second National Vice-President of CUPW, described this as a tactic designed to silence us when he delivered this speech at the rally:
During the rally, JDL members and other B’nai Brith supporters repeatedly approached us in a threatening manner and had to be restrained by police. I will have more to say about this in a subsequent post.
Toward the end of the rally, Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy appeared on the scene and mingled with admiring counter-protesters. As reported recently by the Canadian Jewish News:
Goldy is a polarizing figure. She used to work for The Rebel, Ezra Levant’s right-wing news website, until she attended a major white-supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017 and discussed it on a live taping of a neo-Nazi podcast. Levant fired her shortly after.
Goldy has publicly recommended to her followers that they read “For My Legionaries,” by Corneliu Codreanu. The book is described by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as one of “the canonical works of global fascism.” Codreanu was the anti-Semitic leader of a murderous Romanian fascist group that advocated “the elimination of Jews.”
When the rally ended, CUPW supporters dispersed peacefully. None was arrested. None was charged with an offence. None had an altercation with a police officer. None engaged in any threatening or racist behavior.
Yet, within hours of the rally’s conclusion, the pro-apartheid lobby began spewing a torrent of condemnation against pro-CUPW protesters.
B’nai Brith immediately published a diatribe describing the protesters as “provocateurs [who] have already crossed the line.” B’nai alleged that pro-CUPW protesters had personally threatened its CEO, Michael Mostyn, by chanting that he would be “sorry” if he slandered us. It seems not to have occurred to Mostyn, who is a lawyer, that this was merely a reference to the prospect of a defamation lawsuit being brought against him, and that their chant was in no way a call to violence. B’nai Brith also seized upon the protesters’ use of the term “confront Zionists”, but one does not need a dictionary to understand that there are plenty of non-violent ways to ‘confront’ one’s opponents.
Notably, B’nai Brith’s lengthy diatribe made no reference whatsoever to the presence of the JDL, nor did a videotaped statement by Mostyn, which B’nai Brith has pinned to its Twitter profile. Although B’nai Brith has now made dozens of statements about the rally on its website, in social media and elsewhere, it has made no acknowledgement whatsoever of the threatening, Islamophobic and racist conduct of its supporters.
Subsequently, CIJA too issued a statement condemning the pro-CUPW demonstrators, declaring that it was “outraged” by “a failed attempt at intimidation by a hateful group of protesters.” Like B’nai Brith, CIJA studiously avoided the subject of the JDL and the appalling conduct of the pro-B’nai Brith counter-protesters.
Now, a shocking 20-minute video has surfaced. The video features two B’nai Brith supporters who participated in the counter-protest. One of those supporters is Mary Forrest, who appears on the left of this screen shot.
In the screen shot below, Ms. Forrest can be seen standing among the counter-protesters on August 29, at the entrance to the parking lot of B’nai Brith’s building. She appears on the far left of the screen shot under an Israeli flag and a Canadian flag, wearing sun glasses, a sleeveless, white top and a beige skirt.
Before the posting of the Forrest video on Facebook, Mary Forrest and other B’nai Brith supporters posed for a photograph with Goldy in front of B’nai Brith’s offices:
The Forrest video appears to have been taken immediately following the conclusion of the rally. It was posted on Forrest’s Facebook page on the evening of August 29. It can be viewed in its entirety at the end of this post.
In the video, Ms. Forrest and her fellow B’nai Brith supporter make the following comments, among others:
“I just think we should bring in the death penalty. And that would resolve a lot of problems… Justin Trudeau, be the first one to go. I’d love to see him. And Monsef. And Iqra Khalid. And Ahmed Hussein. And Omar Alghabra… And Singh, Singh, let’s make him sing, you know, as he walks toward the gullotine!” [13:55 – 14:36]
“I am never going to take the plight of any Arab – any Arab, understand”? When you, when you start, look, they have children to blow them up. Their children don’t grow up because they use them as suicide bombers and martyrs” [5:22 – 5:35]
“I got a little obscene. There was one white, guilt-ridden ho bitch… and I just sat there going like this” [Forrest mimics an act of fellatio] [6:44 – 7:12]
“Arabs live freely [in Israel], they live well – OK, they may be second-class citizens, but they live still better than they live in their own countries where they are attacked by their own people.” [9:20 – 9:32]
“We need to enforce some sort of a snitch line and look into the homes of these people [Muslims and Arabs] since we have so many of them coming into our country.” [10:00 – 10:07]
“Faith Goldy showed up!” She “is the only good candidate… The police were happy to see her as well so that’s a great sign too, right?” [11:30 – 12:28]
Remarkably, Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith and CIJA profess to be ‘outraged’ by the peaceful conduct of anti-racist, pro-CUPW protesters, but when it comes to the aggressive Islamophobes and racists who showed up to support B’nai Brith, their silence is deafening.
Canadians have every right to ask: how do Mostyn, B’nai Brith and CIJA feel about the conduct and attitudes of the counter-protesters?
Do they condone the views expressed in the Forrest video?
Conscientious Canadians await their reply.
The complete Forrest video can be viewed here:
JDL Canada’s henchman-in-chief, Meir Weinstein, shared this abominable video on his own Facebook page: