DUELING DEMONSTRATIONS: Doc brings both sides of Israeli-Palestinian conflict to streets

A group of people attended a rally for Israel at City Hall, in Winnipeg today. . Saturday, May 182019 Winnipeg Sun/Chris Procaylo/stf jpg

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Groups on opposing sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took to Winnipeg streets as dueling demonstrations took place over the screening of a documentary on Saturday afternoon.

After rallying at Winnipeg City Hall, a group of about two dozen pro-Israel supporters under the banner of Stand Up for Israel marched to the Winnipeg Cinematheque where the documentary 1948: Creation and Catastrophe was being shown. The documentary – on the founding of the state of Israel and its impact on Palestinian people who were displaced – was hosted by Independent Jewish Voices and sponsored by a number of Winnipeg social justice groups.

The viewing is intended to mark Nakba Day or “Day of the Catastrophe”, a day of commemoration for Palestinians of the displacement that preceded and followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.

“We’re standing up for the solidarity with Israel’s state,” said Stand Up for Israel organizer Matthew Ostrove. “We believe in its development in 1948. We’re really ashamed of the Independent Jewish Voices for showing an anti-Israel film at Cinematheque. We’re protesting for the state of Israel.”

“Israel does a lot for the world that it doesn’t get commended for: technology, bio-tech, curing diseases which a lot of the media doesn’t pick up on much,” added Ostrove. “So I stand with Israel all the time.”

Protestors waved Israeli and Palestinian flags as groups on opposing sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took to Winnipeg streets on Saturday, as dueling demonstrations took place over the showing of the documentary 1948: Creation and Catastrophe at Winnipeg Cinematheque in the Old Market Square area. Stand Up for Israel organizer Ron East is holding the megaphone. GLEN DAWKINS/Winnipeg Sun/Postmedia Network

Many in the Stand Up for Israel group waved Israel flags and signs such as “Israel, we are with you” and “Yes to peace, no to terror.” When they arrived at Cinematheque, they were met with a group of people who had just seen the documentary, many waving Palestinian flags.

It was a peaceful demonstration with members of both groups engaging in dialogue.

“We’re all one people, we’re all brothers,” said Stand Up for Israel organizer Ron East.

“We watched the film and then we were going to come outside and have a march to City Hall,” said Candace Bodnaruk, a member of the Peace Alliance Winnipeg, one of the sponsoring groups. “But that did not come to fruition. We came outside and we saw some people who were supporters of Israel that were outside here with flags.”

Bodnaruk said she was not surprised to find the Stand Up for Israel protestors outside the theatre.

“This is not unusual,” said Bodnaruk, adding they had been warned by a IJV member that it might happen. “An event like this that’s in support of Palestinians and tries to tell their story which is what the film is about tends to bring people out to protest when they don’t really know what it’s about.”

gdawkins@postmedia.com

Twitter: @SunGlenDawkins

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