The Jewish Defense League (JDL) is attempting to organize an April 15 protest at the offices of Pride Toronto (PT). “During the Nazi era, many high-ranking Nazis were gay,” the JDL Facebook invitation reads in part.

That statement is “inane, meaningless and nonsense,” says Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber. “Is the JDL trying to suggest that gays and lesbians are Nazis?”

Farber says that he resents the frequent misuse and abuse of “Nazi analogies” and that he is “calling the JDL out on its stupidity.”

“They shouldn’t be protesting Pride Toronto, anyway,” says Farber. “They should be protesting QuAIA.”

“We are taking the gay community that runs this parade to task,” says Meir Weinstein, national director of the JDL’s Canadian branch. “We are speaking out against this vile, anti-Jewish, anti-Israel group.”

Farber says the “temperature needs to be toned down” in this debate. “By throwing out ridiculous epithets, we will not accomplish what we need to accomplish, which is to disallow hateful statements in the Pride parade. This kind of statement turns people off.”

PT co-chair Francisco Alvarez says he supports the JDL’s right to free speech, “just as we support everyone’s right to free speech.”

On April 10 a group staged a protest outside the Bathurst and Lawrence TD Bank branch says Scott Mullin, vice-president of government and community relations at TD Bank Financial Group.

Mullin says about 35 people attended the demonstration. Their message was that TD Bank, PT’s main corporate financial backer, should discontinue its support of the festival.

“The people protesting were concerned about our sponsorship of Pride,” Mullin says.

“We have no plans currently [to pull out of sponsorship], but obviously there is a very strong debate going on surrounding the Pride parade and who gets to participate. So we’ve had people express their views in a variety of ways, some write letters. A demonstration like on Sunday doesn’t happen very often.”

Mullen says he supports PT as it implements the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) report.

“A lot of consultation went into that report,” he says. “I trust the dispute-resolution process. I’m hopeful that it will lead to some quiet around this issue, and we can get back to focusing on what Pride is supposed to be about, which is a celebration of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.”

Related:

York Regional Police's rabbi under fire for anti-gay comments; including the email between Bernie Farber and Rabbi Mendel Kaplan about Pride Toronto

Here's a video, including a brief section with Weinstein at about 1:20, from the 2010 Pride parade.
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