On Nov. 25, just days after the cease-fire took effect between Israel and Hamas—officially ending Operation Pillar of Defense—a pro Israel rally took place at the Asper Jewish Community Campus. You’re probably wondering why this is newsworthy, how does the pro-Israel rally differ from any other rally about the hotbed of issues in the Middle East. In fact, the week before the pro Israel rally, there was a rally in support of the Palestinian cause at the Legislature.
Referring to the rally as “pro-Israel” is unfortunately somewhat of a misnomer. The speakers at the event didn’t criticize the Palestinian people, they didn’t deny Gaza’s right to exist, and they didn’t brag about Israel’s military superiority. That’s not what Operation Pillar of Defense was about, and the provincial and federal ministers from both sides of the political spectrum who spoke at the rally realized this. It isn’t the fault of the Gazans that conflict broke out, as they’re just as much victims of Hamas’s tyranny as Israel is. The people of Gaza have not been able to have free and fair elections since Hamas – a recognized terrorist group – seized power by force in 2007. Regardless of whether or not you believe in Israel’s bombing of Gaza, it’s undeniable that Hamas committed war crimes by launching rockets from civilian areas, turning innocent Gazans into human shields.
So back to your question: why was this rally different than other rallies about the conflict in the Middle East? The answer to the question is actually quite subtle: This pro-Israel rally wasn’t a pro Israel rally at all; it was a rally for peace. As one speaker pointed out, when the Palestinians are in control of their own destiny, and when they are freed from the ruthless dictatorship that is Hamas, there will be peace. The Palestinians want an end to the conflict just as much as the Israelis do, and the multidenominational crowd at the rally shows that there is a lot of common ground between the sides to negotiate peace.