A secret event in Ottawa and a party in Montreal for Israel’s National Day

Ceremonies marking Israel’s national day took many forms in Canada on Tuesday.

A festive demonstration in Montreal drew hundreds of supporters of the Jewish state and a flag-raising was held in secret in Ottawa due to security fears.

The Israeli flag flew at Ottawa City Hall early in the morning to honor the proclamation of the creation of the State of Israel, but no public ceremony was held to mark the occasion.

Instead, the city said the Ottawa Jewish Federation hosted a private event, but officials would not say when it took place.

The City claims to have information suggesting that a public event would have posed “a significant risk to public safety”, without specifying the nature of these risks.

The decision to forgo a flag-raising ceremony drew strong reactions from the Jewish community, including federal politicians such as Liberal MP Anthony Housefather and Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman, who urged the city to hold the flag-raising ceremony. ‘event.

Last Friday, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe wrote on social media that he had asked the police and the city to find a way to hold the event safely, but officials concluded Monday that this would not happen. not.

Pro-Palestinian protesters who gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday declared victory, saying they had forced the cancellation of what they called a “genocidal flag-raising ceremony.” A masked woman leading the group of about 50 told the crowd that “the shameful Zionists have gone home.”

She called Mark Sutcliffe’s position “shameful” but praised Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow for her decision not to participate in the flag raising in that city.

On Tuesday, Olivia Chow’s office released a statement saying that she would not attend the ceremony because “she believes that lifting [le drapeau] is divisive right now” and that she understands “the deep pain and anguish felt by many in the community.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Doug Ford issued a statement celebrating 76 years since the establishment of Israel as an “independent and democratic state.”

“Israel has experienced many difficulties throughout its history, including the attacks of October 7 and the months of conflict that followed,” said Mr. Ford. Our government recognizes the courage of the Israeli hostages who have not yet been released, as well as that of their families. We pray for their safe return and for peace in this region. »

“We are all in mourning”

In Montreal, a DJ played pop music while hundreds of Israel supporters, many wearing the country’s blue and white flag around their shoulders, danced and cheered in a downtown park.

A heavy police presence guarded the perimeter as the crowd, which included many teenagers and schoolchildren in uniform, bounced large beach balls and raised their arms while dancing.

Participants who spoke to reporters expressed pride and support for Israel, while saying they were saddened by the loss of life in Gaza.

“I think everyone who feels Jewish in their heart wants to come and support Israel and support peace, which is the most important thing, and I hope that will be the case in my lifetime,” Dorrie Davidson said. She said criticism of Israel or counter-protesters did not deter her from participating.

“They also have the right to speak, like us. They have the right to believe what they believe, and I have the right to believe what I believe, that’s all,” she added.

Ari Kugler, a Jewish Montrealer, said the event had a different impact this year. “Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a situation of war, death and tragedy, and we must commemorate this, feel the pain and just hope that there will be eternal peace. »

On the other side of the street, cordoned off by police forces, Montreal student Ethan Zbily was one of a few dozen people waving Palestinian flags in protest. He said he felt “disgusted and angry” by the celebratory event at a time when Palestinians are being killed.

“Today we see these people celebrating, while we are all in mourning,” he lamented. He made it clear he was there to support a ceasefire and a possible two-state solution to end the conflict.

At the end of the event, police formed a line to prevent Israel supporters from approaching the pro-Palestinian demonstration across the street.

On October 7, Hamas fighters stormed into southern Israel and killed 1,200 people, mostly Israelis, sparking hostilities. Israel responded by bombing and invading Gaza, killing more than 35,000 Palestinians in the enclave, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. More than 600 Israeli soldiers have been killed since last October.

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