"Ms. DiManno also refers to the neighbourhood of the Avenue Road protests as “primarily Jewish.” I’m not quite sure how she’s judging this, but according to the 2016 census, only about 5% of York Centre is Jewish, which is to the north of the Avenue Road Bridge protest."
January 10, 2024
Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star
Donovan Vincent, Toronto Star
Dear Alex Ballingall and Donovan Vincent,
I’m writing to alert you to a factual error in Rosie DiManno’s most recent op-ed, “Antisemitic history of the MS St. Louis is echoing in Toronto,” published January 10, 2024.
Before all else, it is worth making clear that the Toronto Star’s decision to continue publishing Rosie DiManno’s screeds is a stain on the paper’s reputation. Perhaps her vapid work sells more papers, but it comes at a cost.
The article states, “Goodness, even bringing protesters trays of Tim Horton’s coffee at the highway overpass which they belatedly closed.” While this is untrue and unfair on many levels, it is outright false on a basic point. The police did not deliver “trays” of Tim Horton’s, but rather a box of coffee, a stack of cups, and another item in a small brown bag. These were carried by two police officers by hand. There were no “trays.” It’s not true. Call me petty, but it’s a lie. It makes it sound worse than it was — that seems to be the intention.
Beyond this nitpick, which ought to be corrected, the narrative itself is untrue or, at least, highly misleading. These two police officers carried Tim Horton’s no more than a few feet because they did not want to let another demonstrator past the police line and onto the bridge. Ms. DiManno makes it sound as if police officers delivered Tim Horton’s coffee that they had purchased or something of the sort. The video of the incident makes all of this abundantly clear.
I urge you to correct Ms. DiManno’s inaccurate descriptions of this manufactured controversy.
Ms. DiManno also refers to the neighbourhood of the Avenue Road protests as “primarily Jewish.” I’m not quite sure how she’s judging this, but according to the 2016 census, only about 5% of York Centre is Jewish, which is to the north of the Avenue Road Bridge protest. Importantly, the Avenue Road Bridge protest is in Eglinton—Lawrence, which is very diverse. Only about 5% of this district is Jewish as well, again according to the 2016 census. The census data is based on ethnic origin. However, if you look at Elections Canada’s estimates, it is 16.0% for Eglinton-Lawrence and 14% for York Centre, still a distinct minority.
The organizers of the protest, many of whom are Jewish themselves, released a statement making clear that the location was not selected because of the Jewish population in any case. The notion that this is a “primarily Jewish” neighbourhood is demonstrably false any way you look at it. The location of the protest is highly visible to motorists, convenient to get to, and was one of numerous locations of sidewalk protests across Toronto and Ontario.
Please update the article to make clear that there is no evidence “primarily Jewish neighborhoods” are being targeted by protesters.
The statement by the Avenue Road Bridge organizers was already directed to the Toronto Star. I will still echo their sentiments here:
We are your readers and constituents. We demand evidence-based statements, your support in accurate reporting, and courageous statements to end the oppression of Palestinians occurring right now. Please be more thoughtful and meaningful in your words if you wish to truly represent us and our neighborhoods.
I suggest you take seriously the words of your readers and also consider your commitments to basic journalistic standards.
Director of Media Advocacy, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East