Truckers protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Ottawa
Truckers protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandate in OttawaREUTERS/Patrick Doyle/File Photo

Jewish groups in Canada on Sunday expressed outrage after a protest in Ottawa by truckers demonstrating against the government’s COVID-19 policies included Nazi symbols.

Swastikas and other symbols of hate were on display as part of the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” protests against vaccination mandates in Ottawa over the weekend, reported JTA.

The protests, which were organized by Canadian truckers in response to a vaccination mandate placed on truckers returning to Canada from the United States, took place Saturday and attracted thousands.

The protests featured a range of groups comparing vaccine mandates to fascism and displaying Canadian flags, and sometimes American flags, upside down. Among the symbols displayed at the protests were swastikas.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said in response, “Twenty-four hours after International Holocaust Remembrance Day and on The National Day of Remembrance of the Québec City Mosque Attack and Action against Islamophobia, there are Nazi flags being flown in public, in Canada, on Parliament Hill. This should be horrifying to all Canadians."

“With few exceptions, these troubling occurrences have escaped the attention of mainstream media,” he added.

Andrea Freedman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, added, “The only way to get these toxic ideologies to crawl back under the rock they slipped out from is for all Canadians to roundly and unambiguously reject and condemn these symbols of hatred. The pernicious nature of antisemitism is that it morphs and becomes a convenient hook for all manner of grievance, real or imagined.”

“While we are concerned with the small group of agitators displaying the swastika, we are mortified that other protesters allowed it to continue. Good people remaining silent is a necessary precursor to evil taking root,” she added.

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) also denounced the use of Nazi imagery at the Ottawa, noting that a sign featuring a yellow Star of David and a Nazi flag stood out among the other flags and signs carried by demonstrators.

“The swastika, yellow star or any Nazi symbol have absolutely no place at protests in Ottawa or anywhere in Canada. It’s unconscionable and an affront to the memory of each and every man, woman and child who perished during the Holocaust,” said Michael Levitt, President and CEO of FSWC.

“It is shameful that in 2022 we are still seeing these vile symbols of hate and genocide with no regard for their impact on our community, particularly the Holocaust survivor population that suffered unfathomable pain,” he added.