Toronto Sun Doubles Down On Smears of Pro-Palestinian Protesters at York University
Yesterday, mere hours after retracting a claim (first reported by the Jerusalem Post) that “hundreds” of pro-Palestinian protesters had chanted “back to the ovens” to Jewish persons at York University, the Toronto Sun published an article by Joe Warmington which identifies, for the first time, two purported witnesses to the alleged incident.
The ‘witnesses’ in question are Gila Yefet and Leora David. I will have more to say about Yefet and David in a moment.
One could hardly imagine a more horrific thing to say to Jewish persons than “back to the ovens.” Anyone uttering those appalling words should be condemned unequivocally and held fully accountable, in accordance with due process of law.
But two things flow from the very fact that the words are so horrific.
First, any allegation that someone uttered those words should be backed up by credible evidence, because a false allegation that someone spoke such words could well do irreparable harm to the reputation of the accused person – especially indebted students who may soon be entering the workforce and for whom such accusations could have devastating consequences.
Second, precisely because the words are so horrific, one would expect that the persons who heard them would have done everything in their power to record the chanting of the words in order to substantiate that they were uttered and in order to ensure that the anti-Semites who uttered them are identified and are held accountable.
Warmington admits, however, that he still does not have any video or audio evidence substantiating that even a single protester chanted “back to the ovens” at York University on November 20, when the Canadian affiliate of far-right and racist Herut Party held a propaganda exercise for reservists of Israel’s criminal military.
Warmington also reveals in his newest article that one of these supposed witnesses, Gila Yefet, gave him videos of the protest, but we can infer from the entire Warmington article that those videos do not back up her claims. Why don’t they?
Here’s an obvious question: if Yefet actually heard such words being chanted, why did she herself not record them, just as she recorded other aspects of the protest? Warmington’s interview of Yefet gives no indication that he asked her that obvious question. If he did ask it, Warmington has not shared with us the explanation that she gave for her failure to record the horrific alleged chant.
As I reported previously, I have examined over 50 separate video clips taken by a variety of persons who witnessed the events. Not one of them supports the explosive accusation that pro-Palestinian protesters chanted “back to the ovens.”
Moreover, the videos I reviewed show, over and over again, that many of the pro-Israel participants in the Herut Canada event videotaped the pro-Palestinian protesters, and that numerous participants in the pro-Palestinian protest also videotaped the events. For example:
Are we seriously to believe that not one witness to these events managed to capture on video protesters chanting “back to the ovens”?
In Warmington’s latest article, Yefet herself admits that, if those words were chanted, then there must be a video of the chant:
Said Gila: “I have not seen a video showing it so far but there must be one somewhere because these things were said.”
Is Warmington that gullible, or is he simply predisposed to believe any and all smears that are heaped upon supporters of Palestinian human rights?
That brings me to the two supposed witnesses.
Gila Yefet has an extensive public record of fanatical support for Israel. Moreover, she obviously leans to the far right.
Earlier this year, Yefet conducted a highly sympathetic interview of Meir Weinstein, the head honcho of the far-right, violent Jewish Defence League Canada (JDL). As I have previously reported, members of the JDL have been charged with hate crimes in the United States and with an assault of a journalist in Toronto. The FBI has described the JDL as a “right-wing terrorist group.”
Notably, starting at 5:10 of Yefet’s April 2019 interview of Weinstein, Weinstein states that he is banned from York University’s campus, but videos shot at the November 20, 2019 event leave no doubt that Weinstein was there. Below is a screen shot taken from a video of a peaceful, pro-Palestinian protester being removed from the Herut Canada venue on the evening of November 20. Weinstein appears on the left of the image:
On her Facebook page, Yefet claimed that “we were safe” at the York University event “because of the JDL”:
Yefet also praised Herut Canada on Facebook:
In 2017, Yefet interviewed three members of Reservists on Duty, the organization which was featured at the November 20 event at York University and which was established to disseminate IDF propaganda on North American campuses. One of the reservists Yefet interviewed at that time was Shar Leyb, the very source of the Jerusalem Post‘s now-discredited claim that “hundreds” of pro-Palestinian protesters chanted “back to the ovens” at York.
Three days after Israeli Prime Minister (and war criminal) Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted for corruption and fraud, Yefet shared a post expressing adulation for “Bibi” (as Netanyahu is known):
That was not the first time that Yefet expressed affection for Bibi:
Yefet also shared a video lavishing praise on Don Cherry after Sportsnet fired Cherry for a bigoted, anti-immigrant rant:
On Facebook, Yefet also shared a post which included a video purporting to show a Jewish man being “beaten” by “pro-Palestinian Muslims”:
I watched the video included in that post. It reveals that pro-Palestinian protesters shouted at a man who appeared to be wearing a T-shirt of the criminal Israeli Defence Forces, but at no time does the video show the protesters beating the man, who is shielded by police officers.
Finally – and most importantly – after the November 20 event at York University, Yefet posted several videos of the pro-Palestinian protesters, but none of the videos shows the protesters chanting “back to the ovens.”
The other supposed witness discussed in Warmington’s latest article is identified as “Leora David.” Whereas Warmington’s article includes a video of him interviewing Yefet, it does not include any video of him interviewing David. In fact, Warmington provides little meaningful information about David.
It appears, however, that David goes by the name of “Leora Rahmilov” on Facebook:
Like Yefet, Rahmilov’s’s public commentary reveals her to be strongly pro-Israel and that she leans far to the right.
Rahmilov posted these items on Facebook within the past ten days.
Rahmilov has posted anti-Palestinian literature produced by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs (JCPA), including a post about Jagmeet Singh which appears below.
JCPA is associated with a former IDF officer, Jonathan Halevi. Halevi was recently exposed by the Toronto Star for mistranslating and doctoring a video that was used by B’nai Brith Canada to smear a Toronto imam.
As can be seen from the screenshot below, Rahmilov’s post about Jagmeet Singh provoked an anti-immigrant rant by her Facebook friend, “Veronika Natzia” – a rant to which Rahmilov responded with approval by writing “true.”
(For the record, and contrary to JCPA’s claim, the NDP has not officially embraced the BDS movement. The NDP has simply confirmed that it is opposed to condemning or criminalizing those who support BDS.)
Like Yefet, Rahmilov reveals herself to be an avid supporter of anti-immigrant bigot Don Cherry. Cherry appears repeatedly in her posts. For example:
Ultimately, I accept that none of this proves definitively that Yefet and David are lying, but one thing is clear: we have ample – indeed compelling – reasons to be profoundly sceptical of their claims.
We also have something in this country called ‘the presumption of innocence,’ but far too often, those who defend the human rights of Palestinians are subjected to a presumption of guilt.