‘We want people that are not Palestinian to know’: Rally protesting Israeli-Palestine violence drives through K-W
KITCHENER -- Hundreds of vehicles drove across Waterloo Region on Saturday to raise awareness and protest against the Israeli-Palestine violence.
“We want people that are not Palestinian to know and understand what’s happening in Palestine,” said Yazan Shaheen of KW in Support of Palestine. “This is the same ethnic cleansing and dispossession of Palestinian people that we’ve seen in 1948 and here we go again, 73 years later, three generations later, we are seeing it happen again.”
Local Palestinians and their allies are hoping to raise awareness over the possible eviction of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
The eviction follows a decades-long legal battle between Jewish settlers and the Palestinians living there.
Israel rejects the accusations against them and calls the situation in Sheikh Jarrah a private real estate dispute that the Palestinians have seized upon to incite violence.
Shaheen, who helped organize the car rally, says he has family members in Gaza and that several of them have had to relocate out of safety.
“It is very concerning waking up every day and just hoping and praying that you don’t receive a call that one of our family members has passed away,” he said.
In Guelph, a march in support of Palestinians was also held on Saturday.
Since Monday, dozens of Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and hundreds have been injured, according to Palestinian medical officials.
In Israel, authorities there say at least 14 people have died.
“As complicated and disruptive and disturbing and grievous as what’s going on is, we need to remember that we want to build a world of peace and we want things to be okay,” said August Adelman of the Waterloo Region Jewish Community Council.
The community council is also calling a now-deleted video posted by a Wilfrid Laurier student anti-Semitic, as it references the violence in Jerusalem.
“For Jewish students on campus or Israeli students on campus, I can imagine it creates a real unease with the sense of your environment and the sense of your safety and how welcome you are in a place and in a school,” said Adelman.
The university has called the video unacceptable and says it does not condone behaviour that promotes hate, induces fear, or threatens people’s safety.
“I don’t think a punitive kind of approach is necessary or beneficial for anyone,” said Adelman. “I want people to learn and grown and have conversations.”
Shaheen adds that he hopes Saturday’s car rally will help to educate others on the ongoing issues in Jerusalem.
The rally was originally supposed to be in person, but after Waterloo regional police informed organizers it would be in violation of COVID-19 protocols, organizers decided to have a car rally instead.
Police were also in attendance to monitor for public safety.