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Pro-Israel Rally
photo by David Square

Nakba Day Rally
photo by David Square

First Hand Account: The Stand Up for Israel Rally brings message of peace to Nakba Day event

By Penny Jones Square, May 21,2019

I was among some twenty supporters of Israel who attended the Stand Up for Israel Rally on Saturday, May 18 and successfully delivered a message of peace, unity, truth, and justice to seven pro-Palestinian protesters, who had gathered for a screening of an anti-Israel film and a march in commemoration of Nakba Day. Ron East organized the pro-Israel rally, which included Jews and non-Jews (including a member of the Indigenous community).

The pro-Israel rally began at City Hall with participants standing on Main Street with Israeli flags and posters expressing peaceful messages—"Stand with Israel,” “Yes to Peace, No to Terrorism,” “We Stand on Guard for Thee”—and with East on a megaphone sharing messages of peace and the real truth about the State of Israel. The “Honk If you Support Israel” sign got a remarkable response from passing motorists who honked and waved in support.

The rally continued to Old Market Square to protest the screening of the film 1948: Creation & Catastrophe, a film sponsored by Independent Jewish Voices, the Canada Palestine Association of Manitoba, and other groups that promotes the narrative of the Nakba. The Nakba (meaning “catastrophe”) is what Palestinians call the creation of Israel, which they view as the cause of all their suffering and oppression. Unfortunately, this narrative ignores the well-documented truth that Israel was not the aggressor in 1948 but the victim of an attack by five Arab armies—Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria—aided by the Palestinian Liberation Army and irregular Palestinian groups. It also ignores the fact that many Palestinians were not expelled—many fled, and others were advised to leave by their own leaders who assured them victory would be swift and they would be able to return to their homes.

The Stand Up for Israel contingent greeted the Nakba believers as they exited the film being screened at Cinematheque and effectively stalled a belligerent response with their posters proclaiming peace and East continuing to deliver his ongoing message of brotherhood and love on a megaphone.  

At first, the two groups were separated on opposite sides of the street, but they eventually joined together when East crossed over to hug a member of the Palestinian supporters and invited the rest of the Israel supporters to join him. This show of solidarity by the pro-Israel participants crossing over to join East and engage in dialogue with the seven pro-Palestinian supporters was extraordinary.  

Unfortunately, two of the pro-Palestinian protesters were more interested in confrontation than conciliation and became more vocally aggressive. One loudly claimed that the one-state solution (well-known to be a no-state solution for Israel) was “the only solution.” This is in opposition to Canada’s officially stated support of the two-state solution. When the two agitators would not let up, the pro-Israel group crossed back over and left Old Market Square to continue their peaceful demonstration in front of City Hall.

The Nakba commemoration never took place as the march to City Hall was abandoned. An event traditionally marked by hate was successfully dismantled by this demonstration of love by the Stand Up for Israel Rally.

Ron East adds: "Our march to Old Market Square was to first-and-foremost protest the planned Nakba Day Commemoration event and secondly raise our concerns about the anti Israel movie screened by IJV [Independent Jewish Voices].

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