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Jewish group wants hate crime probe
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TORONTO - Canada's largest Jewish advocacy group will ask police to investigate whether hate laws were broken during recent rallies held in cities across Canada to condemn Israel's attacks on Gaza - an allegation roundly dismissed Tuesday by the group's Arab counterpart.

The Canadian Jewish Congress and the Canadian Arab Federation exchanged their latest barbs as the cauldron of emotion in the Middle East, set to boiling by Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip, continued to spill over international borders.

The congress has video and images from "pro-Hamas" protests in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary that were "uncivil, un-Canadian, that demonize Jews and Israelis," and might have violated Canadian laws, CEO Bernie Farber said in an interview.

"Some of the rhetoric and chants that we have heard are everything from calls to murder, to comparison of Jews and Israelis to Nazis, to calls to genocide," he said.

The Jewish advocacy group, which intends to hold a news conference Wednesday to release the material, said it plans to ask both local police and the RCMP to investigate whether any crimes might have been committed.

Mohamed Boudjenane, executive director of the Canadian Arab Federation, dismissed the tactic as an attempt to divert attention from the horrors of Gaza - horrors perpetrated, he said, by the Israeli military.

"We had 10,000 people (protest)," Boudjenane said.

"How can you control every single person there and not have someone who will scream some weird stuff or someone who could have a flag of Hamas or whatever? But the purpose of the march has nothing to do with that."

Thousands of people have demonstrated in cities across Canada against the attacks on Gaza that have killed hundreds of people. There have also been several similar rallies across the country expressing support of the Israeli action.

The Israeli government says the invasion was in retaliation for Hamas rocket attacks on Israel from the Palestinian territory.

The congress said it would release a list of those who co-sponsored the anti-Israel protests, among them the Ontario wing of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Peace Alliance and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Boudjenane pointed out that numerous Jews have also rallied against the Israeli attacks, naming some prominent ones such as author Naomi Klein and political and social activist Judy Rebick.

They aren't anti-Jew, he said, but were only there to protest the "massacre" happening in Gaza.

Boudjenane also accused pro-Israeli counter-demonstrators of taunting the pro-Palestinian side with such epithets as "murderer" and "terrorist."

Farber said if the temperature isn't brought down, the rallies could lead to real violence in Canada or attacks on Jewish institutions, as has happened in some places in Europe.

"We are firm supporters and believers in the need to be able to passionately demonstrate in free and democratic societies," Farber said.

"But most us as Canadians also abhor the vilifying and demonizing and promoting some of the most hateful images that one can really imagine in terms of such demonstrations."


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