Having come to Canada in 2017 from war-torn Syria, Aboud Dandachi has enjoyed not just physical safety but newfound freedoms—including the freedom to interact with Israelis. He was thus eager to attend a talk at York University by a group of IDF reservists. There he encountered a rude surprise:
Shortly before the event started, a large group of people waving Palestinian flags and shouting anti-Israel, pro-intifada slogans through speakerphones made its way up to the floor where the event was to be held. During the event, they proceeded to bang on the doors to the auditorium and to use the speakerphones to drown out the event being held inside. Several times, the event was interrupted by hateful, angry individuals who had come in with every intention of being as disruptive and disrespectful as possible. Outside, their friends made sure to cover every exit from the auditorium and blare their slogans non-stop.
I was astonished at the number of police officers and private security guards that were required to keep the angry crowd outside away from those inside the auditorium. Bashar al-Assad, when he triumphantly drove into the formerly rebel-held Damascus neighborhood of Ghouta, hadn’t required such a large security detail.
One [attendee] compared the happenings of that night with her experience under the KGB in the Soviet Union. The KGB, like the Syrian secret police, were thugs dedicated to imposing and policing an orthodoxy of thought. No dissenting opinion to be tolerated. Just as the angry crowd outside were not about to tolerate any opposing opinion.