Media Release: Toronto town hall on anti-Palestinian racism

Feb 23, 2024

Media Release: Toronto town hall on anti-Palestinian racism

Experts will offer attendees actionable strategies, tools and support resources to navigate this challenging climate
Toronto skyline at night. Image: City of Toronto on Flickr

Torontonians from Across the GTA to Attend Emergency Town Hall About the Rise of Anti-Palestinian Racism:   In Our Classrooms, Campuses and Workplaces

WHEN: Friday, February 23, 2024, 7:00pm 

WHERE: Yonge-Dundas Square area (please call for exact location)


MEDIA CONTACT: Gur Tsabar,, 347.248.1390 cell; Dalia Awwad, 

Toronto, ON – Concerned Torontonians from across the GTA will gather for an emergency Town Hall on the increasing suppression of pro-Palestinian voices in our classrooms, campuses and workplaces. All across the GTA there has been a disturbing increase in people being punished, terminated and silenced for expressing any form of solidarity with Palestinian people. A recent ‘We for P’ Survey showed that a staggering 67% of professionals who expressed solidarity with Palestine faced workplace retaliation or intimidation.

The community Town Hall, jointly organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement and the Jews Say No to Genocide coalition, will feature an expert roundtable discussion, an audience question and answer session as well as  community resources and support fair for attendees. 

The expert panelists will include:

  • Dr. Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui. Professor of Sociology and Criminology; Social justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategist.
  • Zaid Zawaideh. TDSB parent organizer with community group, Toronto Palestinian Families.

  • Leora Smith. Human rights lawyer. Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Community Justice Collective. 

  • Dr. Jacquie. Palestinian-Ukrainian medical student and resident.

  • Rabbi David Mivasair. Peace activist and anti-Zionist lobby organizer with Independent Jewish Voices.

People continue to be penalized by their employers or in academic environments for benign comments like “free Palestine” or for cheering on protestors as they marched past a restaurant. Such acts of retribution come at the request of Canadian organizations that have vested interests in shutting down criticism of Israel. 

And these organizations are proud to brag about their successful reprisals. In a recent email dispatch, the United Jewish Appeal Federation (UJA) revealed that they have been working with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) in “documenting and exposing acts of antisemitism,” which they then “immediately share with authorities” as hate crimes. Usually, this is a sleight of hand. These organizations prioritize the political objectives of the Israeli state over actual safety for Jewish communities. For example, these organizations have been quick to embrace or work with politicians who express support for the State of Israel, even when those same people have embraced far-right movements and conspiracy theories that rely on antisemitic tropes.

Notably absent from this community Town Hall will be Canadian politicians - who have consistently proven themselves to be downright hostile towards the plight of the Palestinian people. Most recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford, Mayor Olivia Chow, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, MP Marco Mendicino, Ontario Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie as well as Canada’s Special Envoy for Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, Debra Lyons, rushed to falsely accuse pro-Palestine protesters of antisemitism for supposedly targeting Mount Sinai hospital without a single shred of evidence; an accusation that was immediately proven false and that has since caused some of these politicians to start walking back their unfounded  claims. 

Over 1.5 million Palestinians are now trapped in Rafah, the southernmost part of Palestine and now the most densely populated area in the world. Gazans have nowhere to escape as they are being ethnically cleansed from their land amidst an active genocide - as documented by the International Court of Justice and millions worldwide. 

Netanyahu’s announcement that Israel will continue full steam ahead until “total victory” is nothing less than a declaration of genocidal intent, to annihilate all of the Palestinians remaining in Gaza. Netanyahu’s message could not be clearer: Israel will require nothing less than colonizing and ethnic cleansing all of Palestine to end the war. 

The US and Canada continue to fund the Zionist occupation and write blank checks for Israel to carry forward its industrial-scale slaughter of 2.3 million besieged Palestinians. Canada is aiding and abetting this genocidal operation and is complicit in these Israeli war crimes. Canada has also recently cut funding to UNRWA, the lead relief agency in Gaza, exacerbating the health crisis and starvation that is resulting from Israeli violations of international law. Additionally, over 40 weapons manufacturers in Canada are complicit in aiding these war crimes, funded in part by Canadian taxpayer dollars. 

Indiscriminate Israeli bombings continue to light up the skies of Gaza 140 days into their genocidal operation, which has murdered over 30,000 Palestinians and internally displaced 2 million. Over 67,000 Palestinians have been injured, with limited to no access to medical care, as Israel continues to bomb hospitals and block critical aid from entering the besieged territory. 

Canadian and American politicians will not know a day of peace until their complicity in genocide ends. Week after week, millions globally continue to protest these atrocities, demanding an end to the bloodshed and urging their governments to end complicity in Israeli war crimes. The genocide in Gaza remains one of the most documented yet most denied atrocities of our lifetime.

“For more than 130 days we have watched in horror a genocide being carried out against more than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, we watched our loved ones being killed, repeatedly displaced, and starved by Israel and when we have protested this genocide and the role Canada has played in arming Israel we have been met with racist and dehumanizing rhetoric from politicians and the media alike.  The fearmongering used against Palestinians and our allies who are organizing against this genocide is being done to silence us, but we refuse to be scared into standing idly by we will continue to demand Canada end its complicity until we see an arms embargo put into effect and end to this genocide.” - Dalia Awwad, member of the Palestinian Youth Movement.


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