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Political leaders denounce protest targeting Israeli team in B.C. softball tournament

A disruptive anti-Israel protest at a B.C. softball game on Wednesday has drawn widespread criticism from across the political spectrum.

The protest was promoted online by the Vancouver chapter of the Samidoun Prisoner Solidarity Network, the same group recorded calling the Oct. 7 Hamas attack “heroic and brave.”

Demonstrators were targeting an Israeli team’s participation in the Canada Cup, an international women’s softball tournament at Softball City in South Surrey.

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“Everyone has the right to protest … but unfortunately the protesters had things with them including a sign that had a swastika on it,” said Michael Sachs, who posted photos of the protest on social media.

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“And on our side, there were a lot of children … and they were pretty much talking to the children saying things like don’t listen to your parents, they are lying to you … that their parents are murderers.”

Sach said the protesters also directed “vile” chants at the team and at a Jewish community barbeque on the stadium grounds.

His post on X, formerly known as Twitter, drew swift criticism from B.C. political leaders.

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“Kids should feel safe and be able to watch a sports game. Instead of bringing people together, a group targeted Jewish kids and their parents last night because of who they are,” wrote Premier David Eby.

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“This is unacceptable. Hate has no place in our province.”

BC Conservative Leader John Rustad called the protest “horrible” and “completely unacceptable to see in Canada.”

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BC United Leader Kevin Falcon said he was “deeply disturbed” the demonstrators were “harassing children,” and that “everyone should feel welcome on every baseball diamond and sports field” in B.C.

BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said she was “horrified to hear that protestors targeted children and used Nazi imagery at a baseball game in BC last night,” and that, “We cannot tolerate hate in our province.”

In its post promoting the protest, Samidoun Vancouver said it was calling for a global boycott and ban on Israeli national teams from international competitions, over the mounting death toll in Israel’s response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

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“We are deeply troubled and angered by the warm welcome for Israeli sports representatives by the City of Surrey and Government of Canada, both themselves colonial entities occupying Indigenous lands,” the post stated.

The group Independent Jewish Voices-Vancouver (IJV-V) also issued a statement supporting the demonstration and calling for the exclusion of the Israeli team from the tournament.

“As Canadian Jews, we refuse events like this which promote normalization with the state of Israel while it continues to engage in flagrant violations of humanitarian law, exacting untold suffering and violence on the people of Gaza,” IJV-V member Mia Susan Amir said in the statement.

Sachs said attendees at the softball game did their best to drown out the protesters by dancing and singing, and that the demonstrators left after about 90 minutes.

He added that he was glad to see political leaders speak out, but that B.C. has a “real problem” with antisemitism “and that now we need to see action.”

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