April 23rd, 2024

Local Jewish leader condemns rally at City Hall

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on November 16, 2023.

Demonstrators hold signs and flags and repeat a series of chants as they attend a pro-Palestinian rally on Tuesday evening in front of city hall. The crowd gathered to call for a ceasefire of Israel's military operation in Gaza after an Oct. 7 attack by the militant group Hamas. Herald photo by Ian Martens

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The president of the Lethbridge Hebrew congregation is outraged over a protest at City Hall Tuesday night which he believes was anti-Semitic.

The protest called “Ceasefire Now” was organized by a University of Lethbridge student calling for Israel to stop its attacks in the Gaza Strip.

Israel retaliated after Hamas militants staged a surprise attack on the country recently, killing hundreds of civilians.

The protest was associated with the Lethbridge Public Interest Research Group which is “a student-funded, student-directed, not-for-profit organization providing resources for undergraduate students to engage with environmental and social justice issues,” according to its website.

Garry Kohn attended the rally with his daughter and he’s extremely upset by what he calls blatant anti-Semitism and hate. He will be filing complaints with the U of L and its Student Union.

“If you don’t know the history of the Middle East and the history of the Jews and Arabs, you have no right to talk,” said Kohn Wednesday morning.

More than 1,800 years ago, says Kohn, Jews were forcibly displaced from their homeland by the Romans and “the country was occupied thereafter by successive conquerors – Arabs, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottoman Turk: But the Jewish people never renounced the right to their homeland. During all these centuries of dispersion, the people hoped and prayed for return and for restoration of independence.

“The uniqueness of Jewry’s link with Palestine has been recognized more than once. Jewish and Arab claims presented to a forum of the League of Nations in 1922 led to a mandate, making the British Government responsible for the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine “through immigration: and “close settlement by Jews on the land”. On the 29th of November, 1947, having exhaustedly studied and debated the issues, the United Nations General Assembly re-affirmed that Jewish right to independence in Palestine by passing one of the most famous resolutions in its history – The Partition of Palestine.”

In 1948, the Arab State launched a war against Israel on the day it declared independence.

“Thus it was that the Jewish State was born in conflict and combat, which still darkens Arab-Israeli relations. It is a shadow that might have been dispelled long ago by peaceful negotiation, had the Arabs held to an agreement made in 1919 by their own King Feisal and Israel’s Dr. Chaim Weizman, pledging themselves to the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab States and Palestine,” Kohn wrote in a history of the conflict.

Kohn, who served with the Israeli army after the Six Day War in 1967 as a volunteer, has close ties to that country. His father and late Medicine Hat mayor Harry Viner – a fellow Jew – visited the home of Israel’s first prime minister and its main founder David Ben-Gurion in 1953. Both the elder Kohn and Viney were sheep farmers as was Ben-Gurion and Kohn supplied him with a dozen sheep of a hardier breed.

Kohn called the gathering Tuesday “typical left-wing woke university students” who will take up a cause just to be seen and heard, their conduct typical of those who don’t understand the history of and the events happening in the Middle East, he said.

He called the rally an “incitement of hate” against the Jewish people which consist of only 0.2 per cent of the world’s population of eight billion. There are 16.1 million Jews in the world. The total population of the Arab world, in contrast, was 446.68 million in 2022.

“If the Palestinians laid down their arms, there will be no more violence. If Israel lays down their arms, there will be no more Israel period. That’s the way it is,” said Kohn.

Both Kohn and his wife are from Jewish families who were expelled from Russia in the early 1900s. His grandfather ended up in North Dakota and after getting his homestead burned up by a major fire, he ended up setting up a home near Suffield.

Kohn was raised in Lethbridge and headed to Israel after heeding a call for volunteers while working at Simon Fraser University.

“Huge groups of us signed on,” recalled the soon-to-be 80-year-old who spent 7.5 months in the West Bank and Sinai desert.

One issue that bothers Kohn is what he says is a lack of discussion about what’s happening in other places in the Middle East, including Syria and Afghanistan.

Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, 2,000 years before the rise of Islam, according to Kohn. Jews have had a continuous presence there for 3,000 years, he says.

Kohn says if Palestinians laid down their weapons there would be peace but if Israel lays down its arms, there will be death to its people.

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Nothing like some history.

Rob H.

He’s pretty much right on. I’m not without sympathy for innocent Palestinians, the problem is the overt commitment of Hamas to exterminate Israel culminating with the horrendous murder of innocents Oct. 7.

There can be no peace for Palestine with a terrorist agenda of their leaders. There can be no ceasefire until Hamas surrenders.


A complex and horrific situation originating in western colonialism.
“The state of Israel is not a state like any other, but a colonial state, founded from the outset on campaigns for “”Jewish labor”” on Kibbutz-repelling fellah, on economic apartheid, and on Jewish unionism (at least from 1920 to 1967). It is not by accident that this state was proclaimed at its founding the “Jewish State in the Land of Israel” and that it retains a secular character; not by accident, if racial discrimination is codified by the 1950 Return Act and the Nationality Act from 1952. This state is the logical outcome of the Zionist project of Moise Hess, who, from the beginning of Zionism, conceived the return of Jews to Palestine in the vans of French colonialist expeditions. It is born from the expropriation of the Palestinian people and at the price of the formation of a new “nation without territory”: the Palestinians. It’s not the slightest paradox.
The Jewish nationality in Palestine is now under oppressive situation, at the expense of Palestinians. The nationalism of the oppressed and the oppressor cannot be put on the same level, no more than the violence of one another. Zionist terrorism is state terrorism, which has a regular army, police, secret services of a bourgeois state supported by imperialism. In the face of this oppression, we unconditionally support the national rights of Palestinians. ”
Daniel Bensaid, “The Jewish Question Today”, 1980
Further background reading: Orientalism, by Edward Said


and no peace so long as israel’s leadership has a terrorist agenda and commits crimes against humanity…no matter how they try to spin it otherwise.


Well said Garry . . . people need to be enlightened! The Israeli’s are not occupiers, it is their land! Ignorance and fake news on social media has been a huge factor, but the disinformation Hamas has spred using the health authorities, etc., inflating deaths in Gaza, falsely accusing Israel of bombing hospitals, and hiding facts when their homemade rockets malfunction and land in Gaza killing people and in the one case, landing in the hospital parking lot, damaging the hospital and killing people outside.
I have watched Israeli TV news almost daily for the past 2 years and followed trusted news sources, which are not the CBC and BBC ( biased reporting from both ) and seen the attacks and rocket attacks.
I will not state on this format in detail the atrocities committed to civilians, over 1200 in the October 7th massacre, but when pregnant women are killed after cutting them open and taking the baby and killing it, and the other actions to babies and children, how they killed them, or shooting all the unarmed people in the open air music festival, because being more descriptive would cause trauma to some, but only demonic people could commit such atrocities.
From the River to the Sea is not an innocent rant . . . it means to kill, annilhilate and remove Jews in that area from the river to the sea.
One of the issues in our universities across North America comes from foreign ‘gifts’ from some Arab countries such as Qatar, and China who then influence some decisions of those institutions, in some cases, they have some of their Professors teaching and shaping our young minds!
China’s Confucius Institute found affiliated with some universities in Canada and several just one example, and Qatar investments in several universities in North America of several billion dollars another concerning problem.
We have lost controls of what is being taught in our universities and who it is shaping their young minds!
There is a quiet war that has been growing across North America to weaken the US and Canada, using techniques which are from a military playbook for psyops . . . how to take over a country withoug military force!
I will never side with the Palestinians after witnessing the brutality they have used over the past 2 years. I am also very concerned with what is coming out of our educational institutes now!


Not that you’d understand, but I’ll leave a link here of a peer reviewed genomic study that shows present day Palestinians and some Israelis trace their lineage to Canaanites well into the Bronze Age some 4500+ years ago.

This is of course long before the creation of anything close to modern day Judaism. To claim that Arabs or some Jewish people are not indigenous to that land is not based in fact. The modern day arabs in Palestine can trace their genetic lineage twice as long as Mr. Kohn cites.



The Jebusites, Canaanites, and many other ‘ites’ were wiped out! Any DNA found today is mixed, since there were some relations with Israeli’s more than once in history going back thousands of years.
Palestinians are not Philistines! Yes you will find traces of DNA in Arabs of Jews, but they were wiped out!
You appear to support the terrorists! The United Nations gave Israel the land in 1948!
Not point arguing with numb skulls!


You re entirely wrong. Read a book. The UN did not grant domain to Israel. If you want to talk though about the UN, refer to the numerous UN resolutions Israel has disregarded. History and facts are not not something you can just piece meal to some distorted narrative. Give your head a shake.


Have you heard of UN Resolution 181?
United Nations Resolution 181, resolution passed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1947 that called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem as a corpus separatum (Latin: “separate entity”) to be governed by a special international regime.
I would also like to point out the land of Canaan’s name came from Noah’s son, Canaan. Noah is not just mention in the Holy Bible but the Quran.
If people want to talk DNA, we all came from Noah ( and Adam and Eve ) after the flood wipe out everyone.
DNA arguments just don’t work! We all came from the place, unless you believe on evolution, which have never been able to find that great missing link!
We have gotten so far away from the serious issues of the massacres which happened that there I will end my comments on the subject!
Israel has the right to defend itself and if anyone thinks that actions of Hamas were justified then you deserve that special place in Hell that you will receive soon!


You appear to support genocide.

You would have made a good German in WWII.


As evidenced in ewingbt’s reply, minds held captive by colonial ways of thinking are usually unable to grasp the complexities of how the creation of the State of Israel was a colonial project.
“…the Balfour Declaration promised Jews a land where the natives made up more than 90 percent of the population.”



The Balfour Declaration was in 1917 and I am well read on the issues.
Al Jazeera, as the BBC used to be credible media, but no longer.
It is apparent that you also support Hamas and that you have missed one important detail . . .
They don’t just want to annihilate the Jews, they want all of us Western Infidels dead and our land!
Several years ago, after the Syria crisis grew, an Imam on the Temple Mount told his followers of the Mosque and across the Muslim world ” Imam Sheikh Muhammad Ayed recently admonished his congregation, “Europe has become old and decrepit and needs human reinforcement… Soon, we will trample them underfoot… we shall conquer their countries!”
ISIS threatened to send 500,000 migrants into Europe. They even published a booklet for potential jihadists with information on how to move to Libya, then from there emigrate more easily into Europe.
But now, they are passing directly into Europe via Turkey.
Today, look at Paris and London! Look at the migrants flooding the US from the south and realize that the radical Muslims such as ISIS and even Al Qaeda have had a footprint South America for years.
There is so much more to this, and Iran just doesn’t want the Middle East, they want all of us Western Infidels dead and have stated this many times and just recently! Hamas, Hezbollah are proxy militias of Iran, with the Muslim Brotherhood and even Qatar supporting them.
You seem to miss one important point as well: Israel was working with other nations to come up with a two state solution and had come to some agreements with the Saudi’s just prior to the October 7th massacre. Israel wanted peace and was willing to have a 2 state solution, but Iran would never accept that.
You have missed so much, just as you missed the events downtown that were right in front of you!
The Israeli’s will win! I remember that special Mossad teams sought out and killed or brought to justice Nazi leadership for decades after the world war and they will do the same to Hamas.
The US should failed in Afghanistan, but the Israeli’s will have a successful mission. I would suspect many of the hostages have been killed.
Sad that you would support the actions of Hamas, the brutality, the inhumane atrocities, and the kidnapping of innocent civilians who are been raped and tortured.


If Al Jazeera is not to your liking, perhaps you might consider consulting, Haaretz, the longest running newspaper currently in print in Israel.


Have you heard of UN Resolution 181?
United Nations Resolution 181, resolution passed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1947 that called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem as a corpus separatum (Latin: “separate entity”) to be governed by a special international regime.
I would also like to point out the land of Canaan’s name came from Noah’s son, Canaan. Noah is not just mention in the Holy Bible but the Quran.


This is Canada, not a settler kibbutz in Israel or a theocracy like Iran. It’s deplorable that a religious leader is using polemical, weak history to support occupation of a territory and violation of international law. It’s just outright ignorance though to castigate those speaking out about the atrocities in the occupied territories as anti-Semitic.

The comments of this religious leader and his theocratic stance are the types of radicalism Canadians need to be concerned with.

Last edited 5 months ago by adamb

“…I was familiar with the repression of the Palestinian population in Israel. I’d seen it first hand … In 1953, I lived in Israel for a couple of months at a kibbutz, which at that time was the basis for the outreach to the Arab community and the Palestinian community. I knew barely enough Arabic so that I could follow conversation. And I went, I travelled sometimes with the person in the kibbutz who ran the Arab outreach … I went with him out to the villages, heard the complaints of villagers that they couldn’t cross the street to speak to people in a friendly kibbutz unless they went to fight to get authorisation to cross the road.I could also see the acts of repression and … insulting the non-Ashkenazi Moroccan Jewish population. All of those things should have been talked about. I didn’t become involved until after the ’67 war and Israel initiated its policies of settlement and development in the occupied territories, which expanded and led to the current situation.”
-Noam Chomsky


“Women Wage Peace is the largest grassroots peace movement in Israel whose purpose is to promote a political agreement, involving women in the process…”