Canadians could expect “thousands” more mock eviction notices as part of a campaign to draw attention to the reported removal of Palestinians from a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
The notices have already been seen in Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Pickering, Ajax, Markham, Scarborough, and other urban areas, according to an email to The CJN from “the Buycott Palestine team,” a collective that wrote and distributed the letter.
“We have thousands more being disseminated as we speak,” the email stated.
In response to a question on how it was decided which homes would receive the missives, spokesperson Sabrine Azraq said: “The only deciding factor regarding which homes to post them on is convenience. People were asked to post these notices within their vicinity.”
Azraq queried The CJN: “Is there a particular reason why you haven’t asked about the Palestinian residents in (the Jerusalem neighbourhood of) Sheikh Jarrah being forcefully displaced due to being Palestinians?”
The predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood remains the focus of a property dispute with Israel, and was cited as a flashpoint leading to the recent 11-day war between Israel and Hamas.
“We regret to inform you that your house is scheduled for demolition in the next three days,” the mock notices state. “If you do not vacate the premise within this time frame, we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings.”
And, “you will receive an invoice for the charges of demolition and waste removal.”
It goes on to say that while the document is not real, “forced ethnic displacement is a routine reality for Palestinian families living under illegal occupation.”
It says 27 people in six Palestinian families are in danger of being evicted—a violation of international law—and replaced with “Israeli settlers.”
Azraq was quoted in reports as saying the notice’s jarring wording is deliberate.
“The goal really is to give individuals that momentary shock of what it would feel like,” she said. “The goal is to just try to put yourself in the shoes of the Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, in Silwan, in Jaffa, and many other villages and cities where Palestinians are facing the imminent threat to be forcibly displaced.”
In at least one case, the notice was taped to the front door of a Jewish home in Toronto. Others were found in mailboxes.
But the Jewish Federation of Ottawa said it has seen no evidence that Jewish homes were targeted. The federation told Global News that police are aware of the “upsetting,” “crass” and “counterproductive” letters.
B’nai Brith Canada agreed there is no evidence that the letters were sent or delivered specifically to Jewish homes.
Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith, called the notices “a new low for the anti-Israel movement in Canada,” as they not only spread “false propaganda but they are frightening and confusing many recipients, not all of whom speak English as a first language.”
And they are “littered with falsehoods,” B’nai Brith pointed out.
“They fail to explain that the homes in question (in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood) have been owned by Jews since 1875, and that their Jewish owners were ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem in 1948 by the Jordanian Army.”
As well, “an Israeli court ruled in 1982 that the Palestinian occupiers could stay as tenants so long as they paid rent, but they have refused to do so—hence the potential for eviction.”
B’nai Brith said it reached out to several Canadian Muslim groups listed as partners of Buycott Palestine, and they have distanced themselves from the notices.
The Canadian Council of Muslim Women told B’nai Brith that the notices “do not reflect the official policy or position of CCMW.” It and the International Development and Relief Foundation “swiftly removed their logos” from the Buycott Palestine website after B’nai Brith reached out, the Jewish group said.
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto last month announced it was beefing up security in the Jewish community in the wake of disturbing numbers showing a five-fold spike in anti-Semitic incidents in May.
“It should never be normal for a Jew living in Toronto to find mock eviction notices spreading lies about Israel posted throughout their neighbourhood – including on their own front door,” said UJA president and CEO Adam Minsky in an online address late last month.