Gila Yefet says she knows what she heard.
So does Leora David.
Both women are ready to tell Toronto Police.
“I heard a lot of things no Jewish person anywhere should ever have to,” said Gila, a York University student.
She was at last week’s pro-Israel event in Vari Hall on York’s campus when it was disrupted by unruly protesters.
“What I heard was ‘Go back to the ovens’ and ‘Kill the Jews.’ It was disgusting.”
Leora said she heard similar chants.
“I heard ‘Go back to the ovens,’” she said. “At first, one person said it. Then more started saying it.”
All of this, they say, happened at the university-sanctioned Nov. 20 event that saw four former Israeli Defence Forces reservists invited to speak about their experiences by Herut Canada.
The event drew the ire of the Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA). The group’s supporters staged a raucous protest that saw some critical of the event cause disruptions that required police to calm things down.
In the end, one person was hurt and police handed out six trespassing tickets.
But it was the chants ‘Viva, Viva Intifada’ and flying fists that caught the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford and Mayor John Tory. They denounced those who subjected Jews to such vitriol.
The “back to the ovens” claim has been met with skepticism from pro-Palestinian circles and others who say no video or audio evidence has surfaced to verify it. SAIA has said on social media the portrayal of the event by politicians and the media is inaccurate.
“As I was going toward the stairs for the second floor I heard with my own ears to ‘Go back to the ovens, bring back the Intifada, kill the Jews,’” said Gila. “I heard it. There is no question about it.”
Added Leora: “It was said, 100%. I heard it and so did a lot of other people, including the police officers there. The people there right away reacted and asked the police ‘Why is something like that said in Canada OK?’”
Chief Mark Saunders has officers from 31 division and the hate crimes unit poring over cellphone videos that were uploaded to social media to see someone caught these vile tropes.
Said Gila: “I have not seen a video showing it so far but there must be one somewhere because these things were said.”
Leora, who claimed two protesters show up at her workplace and clandestinely took her picture, said she is still stunned by what she heard.
“It’s very disturbing. All of my family was lost in the Holocaust except for my grandfather so this was pretty hurtful and unacceptable.”
Can Toronto Police find evidence to substantiate these allegations and if they do, does it qualify as hate speech?
“I can’t think of anything more hateful,” said Gila.
“Telling Jews they want them to die sure seems like hate to me,” said Leora.
Gila and Leora say they hope detectives talk to them.