"This is different than the usual chant which calls for “Palestine” to be free. The critique you’ve included above simply does not apply in the same way, not to mention that it is highly problematic to begin with."
December 6, 2023
Joshua Chong, Reporter, Toronto Star
Ben Cohen, Reporter, Toronto Star
Donovan Vincent, Public Editor, Toronto Star
Dear Joshua Chong, Ben Cohen, and Donovan Vincent,
I am writing to express concern about your article: “Pro-Palestinian protesters return to Union Station for rush hour sit-in,” published on December 6 in Toronto Star.
The article included an unfair interpretation of the “No one is free until everyone is free, from the river to the sea” chant.
You write: “Critics call it a genocidal refrain and an endorsement of the Hamas attack that sparked the current war.”
Given that this is a modified version of the traditional chant, this seems like an outrageous interpretation. Jewish people were chanting it, and it specifies, in this case, that “everyone” should be free. This is different than the usual chant which calls for “Palestine” to be free. The critique you’ve included above simply does not apply in the same way, not to mention that it is highly problematic to begin with.
Jewish Voice For Peace (JVP), a prominent Jewish group that seeks the liberation and justice for the Palestinian people, literally writes similar words on its website. As seen on JVP's website, “Our safety is bound together with the safety of all people. And none of us is free if we aren’t all free.”
These critics' interpretation is again an attempt to conflate antisemitism with antizionism. It is a way to prevent any criticism against the State of Israel or Zionism that places Jewish People above Palestinians. It only serves to discredit not only the Palestinian cause but the Palestinians and their allies, including Jewish people, who want to dismantle that hierarchy.
It would be more accurate to use the word pro-Israel than critics to prevent any conflation between Zionists and Jewish people, anti-Palestinian racism, and antisemitism.
I hope Toronto Star will make this change and give space to actual diverse critical voices and perspectives to not further mislead its readers.
Media Analyst, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East