MacLeod Stands With Jewish Community at Israel Independence Day Ceremony

By Charlie Senack

Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod called herself a proud Zionist as she stood with the Jewish community at Israel!s Independence Day ceremony held in a secured area at City Hall on May 14.

MacLeod had already been vocal about her views online, repeatedly writing that Israel had the right to defend itself amidst the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. She also openly supported the keffiyeh ban at Queen’s Park, despite Ontario Premier Doug Ford stating it should be revoked.

“The rules in a democracy are here to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. That is what happens each and every single day in Israel, and it’s what happens each and every single day in Ottawa,” MacLeod told the cheering crowd. “Today the minority group that I’m standing to protect is the Jewish community in the city of Ottawa that deserves my support and deserves the protection afforded to you as a Canadian citizen.”

The Independence Day ceremony and Israeli flag raising ceremony almost did not happen due to security concerns raised by Ottawa Police. Less than a week before it was to be held, municipal officials said there would be no formal gathering.

Objections and uproar soon came from the Ottawa Jewish community who felt like they were being ripped away from their traditions. Mayor Mark Sutcliffe advocated for a ceremony to be held safely.

Tuesday’s gathering was by invite only. Participants had to show proof that they registered. Rows of police officers in tactical gear kept a close watch on pro Palestinian demonstrators who marched over from an encampment set up at nearby UOttawa. The two sides were separated from large metal fencing.

Jewish members and Zionist supporters danced around in circles, held yellow balloons, and waved the blue and white Israeli flag as chanted for remaining hostages to be freed. “Bring them home,” they said. Then the names of each person held in captivity were read aloud.

On the opposite side, there were calls for Palestine to be free as demonstrators held signs that read “stop the killings.” 

Since the war began on Oct. 7, it’s estimated that 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli invasion of Gaza, including 7,800 children. Israeli lives lost sit at around 1,410.

“They can be loud. They can try and disrupt us. But they will never build a city quite like the people in front of me who have contributed to major sports organizations , to major arts organizations, to running a city,” said MacLeod.

There were some tense moments. One person held a sign that compared the Israeli flag to Nazi Germany. Another called for all Jews to go back to Europe.

Anti Semitism is on the rise. Reports of hate crimes in Ottawa and across the world are growing. There have been some incidents of islamophobia too. A video posted to X showed a person yanking a hijab off of a Palestinian woman at the City Hall gathering. The Muslim Advisory Counsel of Canada said it is in contact with Ottawa Police.

In her speech, MacLeod said she once visited a town in Israel called Sderot, where she saw firsthand how it’s one of the only Middle Eastern countries which protects women’s rights, embraces the LGBTQ2S+ community, and offers support to disabled residents.

“I went to a very small community — one not very different from Barrhaven where I represent — where there are lots of families with small children,” said MacLeod. “I went to the police station and I had an opportunity to look at some of the safes and some of the areas where they held the bombs which actually were coming from Israel to Gaza to support water and sewer. They were turned instead to acts of war against Israeli citizens. I remember standing in a bomb shelter and it was disgusted as a caterpillar as the children who would go in it wouldn’t be afraid. I saw what you’re fighting for.”