Meir Weinstein of the Jewish Defence League, stands with supporters in Newmarket.
Credits: File Photo
TORONTO — Permission for an anti-Israel rally Saturday at Queen's Park - on the Jewish sabbath - left Jewish leaders vowing to confront participants in the "hate-fest."
Their concerns also prompted Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak to criticize the Speaker of the legislature's decision.
"I just can't imagine that any reasonable Ontarian would think that Queen's Park, the cradle of democracy in Ontario, should be used for a protest that calls for the destruction, the annihilation of Israel," Hudak said Friday.
His statement came after Speaker Dave Levac said organizers of the Al-Quds Day rally "have indicated their understanding of and willingness to conform to all stipulated guidelines."
Declared decades ago by Iran's late leader Ayatollah Khomeini, Al-Quds Day signals the end of Ramadan. The Islamic global event also calls for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Premier Dalton McGuinty stated Friday he has confidence in Levac's judgement.
"We expect that anybody who's going to demonstrate ... will adhere to both the law and the values that guide us as a society," McGuinty said.
B'nai Brith Canada CEO Frank Dimant said he doubts demonstrators will co-operate.
"Having seen the response in the past, it is very unlikely that the security personnel will engage the demonstrators in removing these unlawful signs, or will pull the power when hate speech is going to be echoed right outside of Queen's Park," he said.
In an email Thursday, the Islamic group's unnamed spokesman said the "rally is meant to draw attention to the continued occupation and oppression of Palestinians by the zionist regime in Israel."
At the 2011 event, Muslim journalist Zafar Bangash called Israeli nationalists "oppressors and criminals."
This year, the Jewish Defence League is countering them.
Spokesman Meir Weinstein said his group will attend the rally.
He said the league will "confront those groups that seek to destroy us."
An Iranian group opposed to the current Iranian regime is also expected, Weinstein says.
Toronto police Const. Wendy Drummond said officers will also attend, "as we would any other event or rally."
Dimant said he hopes the groups will stay apart, saying the rally is "really an incitement ... I hope it really doesn't succeed in inciting any violence."
-- With files from Terry Davidson