A pro-Palestinian protest that took place outside a Jewish-owned business in Toronto over the weekend has been condemned as an act of antisemitism by city mayor Olivia Chow.
Hundreds of protestors could be seen gathered outside of Cafe Landwer at University Avenue and Adelaide Street chanting “boycott,” while waving Palestinian flags in a number of videos later posted online.
“Targeting a business in this way is wrong. There is no place in our city for antisemitism, Islamophobia, hate, intimidation and harassment of any kind,” wrote Toronto mayor Olivia Chow on Monday.
“I urge everyone in our city, through all the pain and anger so many are feeling right now, not to lose sight of our common humanity,” said Chow, who mentioned the recent spike in hate incidents.
Police have received a 132% increase in daily calls regarding hate-related incidents since the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out on Oct. 7.
On Saturday, protestors marched through downtown Toronto to show their support for Palestine, however no arrests were made, according to Toronto police.
Cafe Landwer released a statement in response to the protest, saying that their primary goal is to ensure the safety of their employees and patrons while maintaining an “inclusive atmosphere that embraces individuals from diverse backgrounds.”
One video showed protestors waving a Palestinian flag in the window of the restaurant while patrons were sitting inside eating their meals. The video was accompanied with the caption “zionist cafe boycott.”
MP Kevin Vuong told CP24 that the restaurant was “singled-out” by protestors for being Jewish-owned.
“That’s not just. That’s not right. It’s an indefensible act of antisemitism and anti-hatred and it must be condemned,” said Vuong on Sunday, calling the protest a “slippery slope.”
Cafe Landwer’s website said that the coffee shop was originally opened in 1919 in Berlin by Moshe Landwer but he was forced to move it to Tel Aviv ten years later to escape the Nazi dictatorship.
The incident was also condemned by Toronto city councilors Josh Matlow and Brad Bradford.
Matlow called the act of harassing Jewish businesses and justifying the Oct. 7 Hamas attack “fundamentally wrong.”
Bradford also spoke out about the rally, calling it “appalling” and “reprehensible.”
“We must stand with the Jewish community in the face of this reprehensible antisemitism,” wrote Bradford on X. “A commitment was made to ensure the community feels safe. Now is the time for action, not words.”