Hundreds stranded as buses fail to show for rally in support of Israel


Hundreds of Toronto’s Jewish community members were left stranded on Monday after a subcontracted bus company failed to arrive. The buses were supposed to transport participants to a rally in Ottawa, expressing solidarity with Israel and opposing antisemitism in Canada.

Adam Minsky, President and CEO of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, expressed his dismay at the situation. “We were shocked that, of more than 70 buses UJA booked, 17 did not show up,” Minsky said. He highlighted the company’s commitment to providing the service, mentioning the full payment and confirmation of participation. 

Minsky suggested a disturbing motive behind the no-show: “Given the absolute silence of the sub-contractor… we are driven to the view that this shameful decision is intended to disrupt our peaceful rally out of hatred toward Jews.” He referenced a similar situation that occurred last month in Washington DC, underscoring the potential antisemitic underpinnings of the incident.

People carry Palestinian flags near an Israeli flag of a counter-protester during a rally in front of City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 9, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/Kyaw Soe Oo)

Despite this setback, the community remained undeterred. “We have made alternative travel arrangements for those affected,” Minsky assured. “The rally is proceeding as planned, and our voices will be more determined than ever.”

The Toronto rally for Israel

The rally at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, organized by Canada’s Jewish Federations, CIJA, and JFC-UIA, along with other Jewish community organizations nationwide, is a significant event aimed to demonstrate the resilience of the Jewish community in the face of rising antisemitism and to remind Canadian officials of the shared values that unite Canadians with Israelis, such as human rights and democracy.

Three weeks ago, nearly 900 Jewish participants from Detroit, organized by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, experienced a significant delay in reaching a pro-Israel march in Washington, DC, due to a boycott by bus drivers. The delegation, scheduled to attend a rally against antisemitism and in solidarity with Israel amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, was stranded at Dulles International Airport. The delay was attributed to a “deliberate and malicious walk-off of drivers,” which was later mentioned during the rally as an act of antisemitism by bus drivers refusing to transport the attendees. Despite the hiccup, the march saw a turnout of about 290,000 people, making it one of the largest Jewish gatherings in US history.

JTA contributed to this report.


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