They shouted ‘Shame!’ and ‘Jew-haters!’ at the small group of Jewish protesters who yesterday called for a boycott of Israeli wines at a midtown liquor store. Hundreds of pro-Israeli Jews descended on the Summerhill LCBO to counter a group of about 30 pro-Palestinian Jews who urged a boycott of Israeli wines ahead of this week’s Passover Seder dinner.
“Jew-haters go home!” the pro-Israeli protesters shouted at the Palestinian sympathizers, who had planned to protest from 1 to 3 p.m.
But the rally was cut short at about 2:30 when police, concerned the crowd could get out of control, asked the pro-Palestinian side to end the protest, said Smadar Carmon, of Not In Our Name, a Jewish group critical of Israel’s handling of the Palestinian situation.
Carmon disputed taunts from those who called her a self-hating Jew.
“I totally disagree,” Carmon said. “I think I love myself and that’s why I’m out there … I care a lot about what my fellow Israelis are doing these days. I think it’s not good for anybody — not good for the Israelis and definitely not good for the Palestinians.”
Carmon said the initial rally was meant to highlight the opposition from some in the Jewish community toward Israel’s policies. She said the Palestinian supporters, also fearing for their own safety, heeded the police request.
As in previous faceoffs between the two sides — like in January at the Beth Tzedec Synagogue on Bathurst St. during Israel’s military action in Gaza — the outnumbered Palestinian sympathizers remained mostly quiet while their opponents lashed out at them.
“We’re here to encourage people not to buy Israeli wines because most of these wines are made in the occupied territories,” said Carmon, a Jew who was raised in Israel. “This is a peaceful way to put some pressure on Israel to make real actions toward peace.”
But word about the boycott call made its way to Jewish advocacy groups like the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, B’Nai Brith Canada, and the controversial Jewish Defense League. E-mails were sent and the larger Jewish population mobilized to counter the boycott, calling on local Jews to come out and buy Israeli wines. By all accounts, they did just that.
After about a half hour of demonstrations, the Summerhill LCBO had sold out of its Israeli kosher wines. The store’s management wouldn’t comment and an LCBO spokesman wasn’t available until today, but Sally Szuster of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto said about 150 cases of the various brands of Israeli-made kosher wine had been snapped up.
BRETT.CLARKSON [at] SUNMEDIA.CA