Arrests made at protest outside Toronto-area synagogue hosting event marketing occupied West Bank land

Federal government says it ‘strongly opposes’ West Bank settlements, does not speak to legality of event. Opinion: Because its a war crime that they are accepting.


Pro-Palestinian protesters wave flags facing a pro-Israel demonstration in front of a synagogue hosting “the Great Israeli Real Estate Event,” in Thornhill, Ont., Thursday, March 7, 2024. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Arrests have been made at protests near a Toronto-area synagogue, hosting a real estate event marketing property in the occupied West Bank.

Realtors and companies participating in the session, called the great Israeli Real Estate Event, gathered at the Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto in Thornhill, Ont., on Thursday — part of a group broader tour taking place in five North American cities.

York Regional Police confirmed to CBC Toronto that arrests have been made at the demonstration near Clark Avenue W. and York Hill Boulevard, but have not provided details as to who has been arrested or if any charges have been laid.

Along with other cities in Israel, the website says customers can inquire about purchasing property in Ma’ale Adumim, Efrat and Neve Daniel — all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, according to the United Nations. Modiin is also listed on the real estate show’s website, and while some parts are considered Israeli settlements, not all of it is. The website does not specify where in Modiin advertised property is located.

The website markets the event as: “Your chance to own a piece of the Holy Land!”

The UN, alongside Canada, considers Israeli settlements in the occupied territories to be in violation of international law.

A list of event dates for a real estate fair, happening in Toronto, Montreal, New Jersey and New York.
A website shows the areas featured at the great “Israeli Real Estate Event” include parts of the occupied West Bank. (

Rabbi Daniel Korobkin of the Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto said while the majority of land for sale is in “Israel proper,” there is a chance land outside of that will be shown to participants.

“All that’s going on is an informational evening, no property is exchanging hands,” Korobkin told CBC Toronto, adding real estate events like Thursday’s have been taking place within the community for years.

“If the state of Canada wants to bring any kind of legal action about that, they’re free to do so.”

Earlier this week, Korobkin told CBC Toronto he doesn’t think purchasing property in the West Bank is in violation of international law, and if it is, people can consult public officials or pursue legal action instead of protesting outside of synagogues.

CBC Toronto has reached out to listed sponsors of Thursday’s show, including IMP International, Emanuel Group, The Jewish Press, the Israeli American Council, and Your home in Israel, for comment.

Settlements ‘serious obstacle’ to peace: Canada

Ahead of the event, the Canadian government reiterated to CBC Toronto that it does not recognize “permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967, and strongly opposes illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank.

“The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace,” wrote Global Affairs Canada spokesperson John Babcock, adding Canada “strongly condemns” extremist settler violence against Palestinians in the area.

“Canada is also gravely concerned by reports of Palestinian communities being forcibly removed from their lands in the West Bank.”

Asked if events promoting the sale of the land in the West Bank are allowed in Canada, and if there are any legal implications for Canadians who purchase property in those settlements, the government did not respond.

A woman wearing a keffiyeh shouts in a megaphone in front of a police officer and pro-Israel protestors.
A pro-Palestinian protester is confronted by a police officer at the demonstration on Thursday. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Local politicians, including Vaughan Mayor Steven Del Duca, Coun. Gila Martow, MPP Laura Smith and MP Melissa Lantsman penned a joint statement Wednesday, calling it “unacceptable that a place of worship” be targeted by protesters, saying they are “committed to doing what we can to ensure that places of worship do not continue to be targeted in this manner.”

The statement from the group did not address the legality of the event. CBC Toronto has reached out to their offices for additional comment.

When asked to comment on the real estate event, The City of Vaughan referred to the joint statement.

Police officers are seen on a street with protesters, who are shown with Israel and Canada flags.
York Regional Police were present during a protest outside of the Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto synagogue on Thursday for a protest against a real estate event marketing property in the occupied West Bank. (Chris Langenzarde/CBC News)

Protesters clash

Farah Mater, a demonstrator at the event with group Toronto 4 Palestine, said people organized outside of the synagogue to protest the “illegal sales of stolen Palestinian land to further illegal Israeli settlements.”

“We stand as Muslims, Jews and Christians to make sure that our places of worship [aren’t] used as cover to advance any illegal activities and international law violations,” said Mater.

“Our government’s allowing for this to take place, they aid in further displacing Palestinians.”

Mohammed William, with Palestinian Youth Movement, agreed. He called on Canada to “end its complicity” by “cutting ties with the Israeli government, placing sanctions, placing an arms embargo and condemning the occupation of Palestinian land.”

A woman and a man in separate photos edited together, looking away from the camera.
Farah Mateh with Toronto 4 Palestine and Mohammed William with Palestinian Youth Movement say they’re protesting a real estate event at a Thornhill, Ont., synagogue for featuring properties for sale in the West Bank.(Chris Langenzarde/CBC News)

Gur Tsabar, from Jews Say No to Genocide, said their group gathered to protest the use of synagogues to “cover” for the sale of “stolen Palestinian lands.”

“It’s an illegitimate use of synagogues and we’re here to protest it because it’s not the Judaism that represents us,” he said.

Ahead of the demonstration, the synagogue sent a call-out to members of the congregation that spread like “wildfire” in the larger Jewish community to counter-protest pro-Palestinian demonstrators, according to Korobkin, who said he feels protestors says are also targeting the synagogue for reasons beyond the real estate event.

Their counter protest is meant to “show that we will not be intimidated or cowed out into silence or submission,” said Korobkin.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs characterized Thursday’s protest as “hateful,” saying the motive of such demonstrations is “to target and intimidate the Jewish community.”

In a statement, the organization called for “bubble legislation” to guarantee safe access to places of worship and community centres, among other sites.

Protesters at an event. One of them holds a sign that says "STOP THE HATE!"
Pro-Israel protesters shout during the demonstration on Thursday. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

The protest is the second to be held in Toronto in the last week over concerns of the sale of occupied land. On Sunday, dozens of people gathered near the Aish Hatorah synagogue in Thornhill, Ont., to protest an event that organizers say was aimed at helping people in the Toronto area buy property in Israel.

One real estate agent involved in that event said it was “absolutely, 100 per cent false” that property located on “disputed” land was promoted during the event.

A man who allegedly shot a nail gun toward at least one pro-Palestinian demonstrator and shouted obscenities at others was arrested and charged.

The great Israeli Real Estate Event also held a show in Montreal on Tuesday, which was met by a demonstration and counter-protest the following evening. In response, a Quebec court temporarily prohibited protests near several Jewish institutions near the synagogue the venue was hosted at.

The real estate events have been held amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, which killed some 1,200 Israelis and foreigners. Palestinian militants are believed to be holding around 100 hostages, and the remains of 30 others.

Israel has since responded with a relentless assault that has so far killed more than 30,800 Palestinians and left 72,298 wounded, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Thursday. Hamas is also demanding the release of a large number of prisoners, including top militants serving life sentences, in exchange for the remaining hostages.

Late last month, The Associated Press reported that Israel plans to build more than 3,300 new homes in settlements in the occupied West Bank. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “disappointed” to hear of the announcement, calling them “counter-productive” to achieving peace.


Vanessa Balintec


Vanessa Balintec is a reporter for CBC Toronto. She likes writing stories about labour, equity, accessibility and community. She previously worked for CBC News in New Brunswick and Kitchener-Waterloo. She has a keen interest in covering the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. You can reach her at

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