A few dozen protesters decried Israel’s military offensive on Gaza amidst Wednesday’s lunchtime crowd in a Concordia cafeteria, a small version of larger rallies that have taken place across the city.
Wednesday’s event was organized by Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) Concordia and social justice collective Tadamon! focused on attacks aimed at Gaza schools.
“Our basic demands are that the University’s administration condemn the fact the Israeli military is bombing schools in Gaza,” explained QPIRG Concordia member Aaron Lakoff. “We also demand the University immediately cut its ties with all Israeli academic institutions.”
Lakoff explained that both groups felt Israeli universities were complicit in Isreael’s actions as none have spoken out against them.
QPIRG and Tandamon! also called for students to boycott companies that supported Israel: Starbucks, McDonald’s, Chapters, and Indigo Books.
Both groups also joined the ranks of community and civil society organizations at a protest downtown on Sunday that drew a crowd of between 5,000 and 10,000.
“There was a very palatable, visceral anger in the streets,” Lakoff said.
A six-month cease-fire between the two countries expired on December 19, as Hamas stated Israel had not lifted the blockade into Gaza except for limited humanitarian aid. Israel, incensed at the 500 rocket and mortar attacks launched into Israel thus far during December, launched a military operation against Hamas in Gaza on December 27. At press time 13 Israelis and about 800 Gazans have been killed from air strikes and a ground offensive, while 137 Israelis and about 3,300 Gazans have been wounded, although exact numbers vary and are impossible to obtain.
Laith Marouf, another QPIRG member and Concordia chapter coordinator of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, a national student-run non-profit, explained that Sunday’s objectives varied slightly from the Concrodia protest: while student groups have called for academic boycotts, Sunday’s protest called on the Canadian government to use diplomatic means in pressuring Israel to end the offensive. Sunday’s protest also had one violent instance where an Israeli flag was burned whereas Wednesday’s was peaceful.
A second Montreal protest was organized for Saturday – but this time community and civil society organizations will be joined by labour unions, including the Montreal branch of the Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux (CSN-Montreal).
“Yesterday we adopted a proposition that says we will support the Palestinian people in Gaza, and we invited all our members to participate in the march,” said Dominique Daigneault, the second vice president of CSN-Montreal.
Montrealers are not alone in condemning the attacks, with protests being held around the world. The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1860, which called for “an immediate, durable, and fully respected ceasefire,” among other things, but both Israel and Hamas rejected the resolution and the ceasefire.