LEVY: Hundreds turn out to support Jewish school targeted by shooting
LEVY: Hundreds turn out to support Jewish school targeted by shooting

Hundreds of members of the Toronto Jewish community and a gaggle of politicians turned up in the pouring rain to send a strong signal of support to the religious day school targeted by gunmen early last Saturday morning.

Conspicuous in her absence outside Bais Chaya elementary school Monday morning — its front window boarded up from the gunfire — was the Liberal MP for the riding, Ya’ara Saks, who is said to live near the Sheppard and Dufferin area girls school.

In fact, no federal MP turned up except for Independent MP Kevin Vuong, who has been dogged in his support for Toronto’s Jewish community.

Speaking while a group of young students from the school stood in front of him, Vuong said you don’t need to be Jewish to know that shooting at an elementary school is wrong.

”If we don’t stop this dangerous escalation of antisemitism today, tomorrow the hate and violence will spread to all schools,” he said.

Toronto mayor Olivia Chow, who along with the majority of Toronto councillors voted against “bubble zone” legislation that would provide statutory policing in front of synagogues, mosques and other places of worship, was openly jeered as she came up to speak. 

The vote came just days before two gunmen, all dressed in black, opened fire at the school at nearly 5 a.m. Saturday. According to video of the incident, after shooting five rounds, they fled the same way they came in a black SUV.

Chow was heckled so much one of the organizers had to step in and tell people to “stand together as one community with our elected officials.”

She said she’d come to let people know they “are not alone” and that the police chief is working “every minute of every day” to keep the Jewish community safe in Toronto.

”You and your families have a right to be safe … in Toronto there is no place for hate,”  she said. “The shooting was a despicable antisemitic act and we say to these cowards, ‘we will find you’.”

She likened anti-Semitism to a “cancer” which has “absolutely no place in Toronto.”

”Jewish people deserve to feel welcome and safe in this city,” she added, the crowd not buying her hollow words after seven months of inaction and last week’s defeat of a motion that would have helped keep Jews safe.

She added that while it “might be raining now” they know “there’s always blue skies behind.” 

Chow left quickly after her platitudes.

Coun. James Pasternak asked why people are “so consumed by hate” that they’d come to a girls school and open fire.

”We will not be intimidated… we live in this city, we helped build this city and we plan to stay,” he said.

”We are not going to be intimidated to stop our longstanding tradition of raising Israel’s flag at City Hall on Yom Ha’atzmaut,” Pasternak added, an obvious dig at Chow for recently refusing to attend the ceremony because she thought it “divisive” to do so.

”And coming up we will not be intimidated at the Walk for Israel.”

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce appealed to non-Jews to stand up and speak up against the “vile rise” in antisemitism now being “normalized” in this country.

“We will not be intimidated by these acts,” he said. “There is no bullet that can shatter our resolve as a country to stand up against this pernicious hate.”

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