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Israeli flag raising ceremony at Ottawa City Hall canceled

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press The Israeli flag will be raised at Ottawa City Hall to mark the proclamation of the creation of the State of Israel on May 14, but the ceremony bringing together the mayor, diplomats and members of the Jewish community will not will not take place.

Simon Hopkins – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

Published and updated on May 8

  • Canada

Ottawa city officials say security concerns led them to cancel a flag-raising ceremony at city hall to mark the proclamation of the creation of the State of Israel , May 14.

The Israeli flag will be raised on Tuesday at Ottawa City Hall to mark Independence Day (Yom Haʿatzmaut), but the ceremony bringing together the mayor, diplomats and members of the Jewish community will not take place.

The City claims to have information suggesting that the event would pose “a significant risk to public safety,” without specifying the nature of these risks.

“The City must prioritize the safety of its residents, visitors and employees. Therefore, this year's commemoration will take place without the usual ceremony,” the City said in a statement.

The Ottawa Police Service did not respond to questions about security issues or its recommendation to cancel the event, saying in an email that its security plans “are scalable and adaptable to current needs.”

Posts on social media suggest the event attracted protesters, including from the pro-Palestinian encampment organized by students at the University of Ottawa.

The group Ottawa 4 Palestine announced last week on social media its intention to “end the Zionist flag raising event.”

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said he was disappointed with the City’s decision, citing “the escalation of threats and hostility.” He explains that the decision was made “after consultation with the Ottawa Police Service and the Ottawa Jewish Federation.”

“Members of the Jewish community Ottawa residents have faced a significant increase in anti-Semitism, threats and hostility over the past seven months, the mayor wrote in a social media post. Our shared priority must remain the safety of all Ottawa residents. »

Deborah Lyons, Canada's special envoy for preserving the memory of the Holocaust and combating anti-Semitism, condemned the City of Ottawa's decision to cancel the event.

“We thank the agents of the police and intelligence services for their diligence, but we should never have come to this,” she wrote on the social media X (formerly Twitter). Jewish Canadians cannot lead full and fulfilling lives due to a real risk to their security. »

“Inappropriate and offensive”

Montreal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather asked the City of Ottawa to review its decision. “Add safety, take precautions. Don’t just cancel the event,” he wrote on social media.

Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman, for her part, called the decision Cowardly town.

The City of Ottawa notes in its press release that it celebrates the national holidays and independence days of more than 190 countries with events and flag raising activities.

< p>Leilani Farha, a human rights lawyer and housing activist, wrote on social media that she had asked the mayor to cancel the event – ​​but for reasons other than safety. She released an email sent to Mayor Sutcliffe's office in which she said the event would be “totally inappropriate and deeply offensive” in light of the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

The war began when Hamas militants breached Israeli defenses on October 7 and killed some 1,200 people, in addition to taking 250 hostages. Israel's months-long military offensive in Hamas-controlled territory has now left more than 34,800 Palestinians dead, according to health officials in the Gaza Strip.

< p>Ms. Farha highlighted the increasing number of deaths and the obstruction of the delivery of humanitarian aid as reasons why the City of Ottawa should suspend the ceremony.

“On this basis, I ask you: Is it appropriate to celebrate the State of Israel ?” she wrote to Mayor Sutcliffe.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116