OTTAWA — We saw the Palestinians. They were there. They were.
They had some flags and some signs, over by West Block on Parliament Hill. We saw them, but there weren’t a lot of them.
They were shouting and angry and waving their flags. Some of them were driving up and down Wellington Street, waving their flags out car windows.
And you know what we didn’t see? Here’s what we didn’t see: We didn’t see any Jew yell back at the Palestinian supporters. No one threw red paint on them or accused them of genocide or said that their businesses should be boycotted, either.
It goes without saying that we didn’t see any Jews who were there fire bullets at the schools where Palestinian kids go, or firebomb their community centres, or call for God to exterminate them. We saw no Jews, not one, raise their voice or a hand against the Palestinians.
That’s what we didn’t see. That’s what didn’t happen.
Instead, we saw around 20,000 Jews, from across Canada. Plenty of non-Jewish supporters, as well.
We saw flags. Canadian flags, Israeli flags. We saw signs.
Pride signs, signs expressing love for Canada and Israel, signs of Christians supporting Jews, signs saying Never Again Is Now, signs critical of the bastards at the United Nations, signs saying Israel Values Palestinian Lives, signs saying Bring Them Home Now, signs supporting the women who were victims of sexual violence on Oct. 7. Lots of signs.
We saw people singing O Canada. We saw them sing Israel’s anthem. We saw people laughing. We saw them crying. We saw them hugging each other and shaking hands and standing together.
We saw all of those things. And — again — we didn’t see anyone curse the Palestinians present, or get into fights with them. Not once.
Here’s what we saw, instead. Here’s what we heard.
We saw Raquel Look, a mom from Montreal. She wore Israeli and Canadian flags across her shoulders.
After some of the politicians spoke, she told us about her boy, her baby, her son, Alexandre, age 33. In perfect French and English, she did that, with a voice that was so raw with pain it was hard to listen. But we did.
Alain Haim Look and Raquel Ohnona Look hold a photo of son Alexandre Look, who was murdered by Hamas in the Oct. 7, 2023 terror attacks in Israel.
She told us how Alexandre was at a music festival in the south of Israel on Oct. 7, a festival in support of peace. He called his parents as Hamas closed in, his voice afraid. They could hear everything.
His mother told us how Alexandre, her angel, was murdered as he tried to protect others. From Hamas, who resemble humans, but aren’t. “In the face of danger and pure evil, he put himself in front of others, to protect them, saving their lives on that black Saturday.”
Raquel’s voice echoed over the heads of the thousands, all silent. You could hear some people weeping in the crowd. My partner, beside me, was. “Alexandre’s memory lives on in the hearts of all who knew him.”
She went on: “I implore our leaders to support Israel in its mission to destroy Hamas. To seek the immediate release of our hostages, and to restore peace to the region for all people – in order to free Israelis and Gazans from terrorism.
“Please let our son’s sacrifice not be in vain.”
A Holocaust survivor, a 95-year-old man, came next. His name was Nate Leipciger. Oct. 7 was like the shoah, he said. Back then, he said, “The world was silent. The heavens did not hear our cries or our prayers. No country would take us.”
Eighty years later, he said, it was happening again. We must not let it happen again, he said. People were weeping again.
Despite all that, despite the tears, despite the sadness, despite the cold, it was a good day. People from across the country, thousands of them, came together to celebrate decency and kindness and humanity.
That’s what we saw. We saw people who love Israel, and who love Canada, and who love life.
We saw people say: Never again? It’s now.