Thursday, January 8, 2009

Protesters occupy Israeli consulate in Toronto.

Click on image to enlarge it.



"Protesters arrested at Israeli consulate.

"Jewish women sit in to speak out against Gaza violence"

January 07, 2009 4:38 PM

On the Web at:

Eight Jewish women were arrested for a peaceful protest inside the Israeli consulate on Bloor Street on Wednesday.

The women were taking part in a sit-in to protest Israeli violence in Gaza and hoping to offer an alternate voice to what is often perceived as universal Jewish support for the Israeli assault on the region.

One of the women, Ryerson University Professor Judy Rebick, said the group entered the consulate in groups of two or three to get them past strict security.

"Once there were eight of us in there, we announced that we were protesting," she said. "We said we were sitting in and wouldn't leave until there was an end to Israeli violence in Gaza."

Rebick said several of the women who participated in the protest have been to Gaza and seen the conditions there. In addition to ongoing bombings and violence, and humanitarian aid and supplies are being blocked off from the Hamas-occupied land.

The women protested for more than two hours, shouting anti-violence slogans. Rebick said the women also tried to state their case to staff within the consulate, but their efforts were in vain.

"We tried to talk to staff, but they clearly didn't want to talk," she said.

Rebick said a security guard tried to drag one of the women out and another of the protesters was slapped in the face by a guard.

Cathy Gulkin, a spokesperson for the protest, said the women decided to protest for two reasons.

"We wanted to let people know Israel does not speak for all of us," she said. "We also want to see an end to all bombing and an end to the siege in Gaza. It's been an 18-month siege now where people haven't been getting food or humanitarian aid."

Rebick concurred, adding their view is hardly unique within the Jewish community.

"We felt we wanted it to be known that quite a few Jewish people in Toronto, in Canada, and around the world, don't agree with what Israel is doing," she said.

The protest was particularly timely given that Israel launched a full-scale offensive on the Gaza Strip on Dec. 27. In the ensuing weeks, an estimated 600 people have been killed and thousands more injured.

Rebick said if the attacks continue, "we're terrified of what's going to happen over there."

The women were arrested for trespassing and causing a disturbance and locked in a police paddy wagon. As they were brought out of the consulate in handcuffs, they were greeted by a few dozen supporters outside, who cheered them for their actions.

"We have support from the Canadian Organization of University Professors and other groups, so we weren't there alone," Gulkin said.

The eight protesters were released not long thereafter without being charged.

Israeli consulate spokesperson Edward McCloskey declined to comment on the incident.


"Jewish Women Occupy Israeli Consulate in Toronto"

Toronto: Wednesday January 8, 2009 Time: 10:25 am

On the Web at:

A diverse group of Jewish Canadian women are currently occupying the Israeli consulate at 180 Bloor Street West in Toronto. This action is in protest against the on-going Israeli assault on the people of Gaza.

The group is carrying out this occupation in solidarity with the 1.5 million people of Gaza and to ensure that Jewish voices against the massacre in Gaza are being heard. They are demanding that Israel end its military assault and lift the 18-month siege on the Gaza Strip to allow humanitarian aid into the territory.

Israel has been carrying out a full-scale military assault on the Gaza Strip since December 27, 2008. At least 660 people have been killed and 3000 injured in the air strikes and in the ground invasion that began on January 3, 2009. Israel has ignored international calls for a ceasefire and is refusing to allow food, adequate medical supplies and other necessities of life into the Gaza Strip.

Protesters are outraged at Israel's latest assault on the Palestinian people and by the Canadian government's refusal to condemn these massacres.They are deeply concerned that Canadians are hearing the views of pro-Israel groups who are being represented as the only voice of Jewish Canadians. The protesters have occupied the consulate to send a clear statement that many Jewish-Canadians do not support Israel's violence and apartheid policies. They are joining with people of conscience all across the world who are demanding an end to Israeli aggression and justice for the Palestinian people.

The group includes: Judy Rebick, professor; Judith Deutsch, psychoanalyst and president of Science for Peace; B.H. Yael, filmmaker; Smadar Carmon, a Canadian Israeli peace activist and others.


Another account at:

They went into the consulate in small groups, and pretended they were there on other business. Once they were all in there, they sat down and told them this is a protest.

The officials in the consulate were absolutely irate over it. One of the security guards was "beside himself". He tried to intimidate them, saying, "You're in Israel now!" Judy retorted, "We are NOT. This is not the embassy." (Apparently only the embassy is considered Israeli territory, not the consulate - they had legal advice going in.)

The security guard tried to drag the youngest woman out, and she resisted. Judy told him to take his hands off her or they'd charge him with assault.

The security guard then tried to take the phone away from another woman, and when she wouldn't give it to him, he slapped her across the face. Judy told him that if he touches any of them again, he would be charged with assault. So the Israeli officials decided to let the police deal with them.

When the police arrived, they were very nice, and very apologetic over having to arrest a bunch of peaceful women. They told the group that what they were doing was illegal and that they would have to arrest them. The women responded that they understand that, but what Israel is doing is illegal as well.

They were handcuffed (the police were apologetic about this too, and explained that they had to because it was procedure), and they put them in a paddy wagon which had separate, windowless cages for each of them. They were in the paddy wagon for about half an hour to an hour (Judy's not sure exactly how long) and the handcuffs were on for a couple of hours altogether.

That whole time, Judy thinks the police were negotiating with the Israeli consulate officials, who, as she said, were irate, because the police didn't want to have to charge the women for just sitting in their office. They were then released without charges.

When the women were brought down out of the building, they were greeted by a press scrum of yelling reporters, and a bunch of protesters who greeted them happily with chants and support.

After it was all over, the women got call after call after call from tons of media - mainstream, alternative, domestic, international (including Al-Jazeera, an Israeli news organization, San Francisco, and of course tons of Canadian ones).

There have been tons of supportive e-mails, Facebook posts, and other online support. She's also received a couple of hate calls (one freak in particular keeps calling back).

So, all in all, this action was a resounding success!