Marching with Pride

Published: July 7th 2010
in News » Local

Snapshot from Sunday's Pride Parade

This Pride Parade would be different. 


Challenged by hateful anti-Israel protestors from QuAIA (Queers Against Israeli Apartheid) the Jewish community came out in force to defend not only Kulanu (Toronto’s Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer organization), but also Israel and tolerance.   


In the lead up to Pride, the rhetoric from QuAIA grew increasingly inflammatory. Only a few days before the July 4 march, Pride bowed to QuAIA’s pressure and flip-flopped.  One day, Pride had decided that “Israeli Apartheid” is a hateful term.  The next, it was just fine.  No explanation, no rationale, except that Pride gave into a well orchestrated campaign of fear and intimidation. It was pitiful.


Our Jewish communal leadership – Kulanu, Canadian Jewish Congress and others – quickly gathered and reached a decision: we would do whatever we could to stand tall on behalf of Israel and march as proud Jews and Zionists.  And we would do so under the banner of Kulanu which had stepped bravely forward to in defence of Israel and our community.  Kulanu, we determined, would not march alone.


As a result, Canadian Jewish Congress,  UJA Federation, Canada Israel Committee and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal came together to support  Kulanu for the upcoming Pride Parade.  Social media, email blasts, and newspaper ads became our rocket fuel to get the message out.  Now was the time, we said collectively, for all those who supported Israel and the Jewish community to step forward and be counted!  Now was the time, we declared, to show no fear and to refuse to cede our streets to those who demonize Israel!


Frankly, we didn’t know what to expect. Last year’s march had about 100 supporters joining Kulanu and we faced a large contingent from QuAIA. We were hoping to double or maybe triple last year’s total. This was not to be. Instead, more than 800 supporters joined us on that sunny hot day including CJC National President Mark Freiman and many other CJC and community leaders. We came in shorts and T-shirts, some with wild inscriptions that matched those we bought from Kulanu – “One in Every Minyan” and “Kulanu: Your source of kosher meet since 2000”. We amassed hundreds of Canadian, Israeli and rainbow flags. We distributed Kulanu key chains, wristbands and even condoms that said, “Israel a safe place to come”. 


MPs Bob Rae and Carolyn Bennett came to visit us.  Mayoralty candidate Rocco Rossi, outfitted in his UJA “Walk for Israel” t-shirt, marched along with his whole contingent as part of the Kulanu delegation.  George Smitherman also came to offer his support.


As the time approached for the parade to begin, one could almost feel the electricity in the air. This was not a quiet group. Ready with our positive messages celebrating Israel as a safe place for the LGBTQ community –  the ONLY place in the entire Middle East where gay and lesbian rights are protected – we were anxious to get the show on the road, though we were concerned about our reception.  We needn’t have worried.


Related articles: (Pride, parade, Bernie Farber, CJC, Kulanu, QuAIA)

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