By Doris Strub Epstein
When he heard anti Israel, Hamas supporters had a booth at a London Ribfest and were using it as a propaganda machine to falsely accuse Israel of “mass murder” and “genocide”, Mark Vandermaas, acted fast. Within two hours, just before Tish Abav, the founder of Israel Truth Week and one of Canada’s leading activists for Israel, managed to get about 12 people together to counter protest.
According to a Facebook page set up by David Heap, they were “invited” to have a booth for free. But as the organizers later explained to Mark, they were bullied into giving them the booth.
“I regarded it as shameful that those who support terrorists during an ongoing war would use a family festival as a propaganda vehicle,” he said.
He unsuccessfully tried to reach the organizers. “I issued an ITW Action alert, asking people with barely two hours notice, to show up in London for a vigil near the booth or to write and/or call the organizers and London’s politicians if they couldn’t come.”
In a phone interview from his home near London he described what happened. “Calling us dirty Zionists, spitting on the Israeli flag – although we were a small group we took control of their intimidation. The organizers were deluged with phone calls, Emails, facebook postings. “You answered the call,” he said with deep emotion. And on the most somber of Jewish observance Tisha B’Av, no less.”
Ribfest organizers stated that they will not allow them entree next year. Israel Truth Week and the Jewish/Israel side will have a booth next year – for free.
Just a week earlier, nine Christians and four Jews faced off with 300 Hamas supporters in a London park. “Our goal was to protest Hamas’s sole responsibility for the deaths of Arab and Jewish civilians; to send a message that we will not be intimidated by anti Jewish violence in Canada and Europe and to expose the false “occupation” narrative,” Mark said.
Where were the police? “They left us to be harassed and intimidated while ever more pro Hamasers crossed the road to try to crowd us off the traffic island we were standing on.”
Emboldened by the absence of police, motorcyclists flying Palestinian flags raced down the road recklessly, as the Hamas side cheered.
“It looked like they would swarm us, but we stood our ground quietly and firmly. They left shortly after to march around the park. Then the police showed up at the empty pro Hamas corner of the park.”
Triumphant, Mark, a follower of Dr. Martin King’s non violent approach, commented. Even though they were a small group, “By refusing to respond in kind, we took their power away.”