Why on earth would police put handcuffs on a man walking a large dog at a Queen's Park rally of something called Al-Quds Day? Yes, there were mostly Muslims (and cops) there when Allan Einstoss, a Jewish guy who belongs to no protest group (like the Jewish Defence League which specializes in counter-demonstrations when Israel is maligned), took his 165-pound mastiff with an Israeli flag on its neck to show the flag, so to speak.
It insults common sense to suggest he was there to stage a one-man riot. Yet police suggested that's what his presence might "incite" because some Muslims regard dogs as unclean. And the larger the dog, the greater the uncleanliness.
He was also accused of being "insensitive" for attending a Muslim event. And he was warned he could be charged with assault if he didn't leave the place, because he shoved back when he was punched in the chest.
Police apparently didn't notice that he might have been punched first. Einstoss felt he had every right to be at Queen's Park with his dog. It was the size of the dog that apparently alarmed police -- that it might attack someone. This is a dog that's going to children's hospitals to reassure patients!
The most alarming thing about mastiffs is their name, which implies strength and aggression. Einstoss' mastiff goes by the incongruous name of "Cupcake," which doesn't sound very dangerous. Mastiffs aren't like pit bulls, bred for excessive courage and over-zealous loyalty, willing (nay, eager) to tackle anything they think is threatening.
Neither Cupcake, nor Einstoss, were intent on provoking trouble, so why were the cops so intent on focusing on them? No one else was singled out as a potential trouble-maker, and certainly no one else was handcuffed, even for a short period.
Clearly there was selective reaction and double-standard by the cops. Instead of being impartial and even-handed, the police sided with the majority against the individual, not because he did anything wrong, but because they didn't want trouble if the crowd reacted aggressively -- always a concern. In other words: a cop-out.
The incident had disturbing overtones of Caledonia a few years ago, when local Indians harassed and intimidated locals who got no support from the OPP. Police had been ordered to do nothing that might provoke the Six Nation Indians.
The blind-eye policy towards native abuses at Caledonia resulted in one man being arrested when he raised a Canadian flag. That was then, this is now.
Last year's Al-Quds rally turned into an offensive display of anti-Israel rhetoric more than a gesture of support for an independent Palestinian state. Al-Quds Day was instigated in 1979 by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini to mark the end of Ramadan. Over the years it's increasingly become a "hate Israel" outpouring.
The creation of a Palestinian state is stressed by Canadian organizers, but Al-Quds rhetoric favours "Down with Israel." Fair enough. We tolerate free speech, and we should also tolerate free speech against the free speech of others, so long as it doesn't become violent.
For cops to side with protestors against those who are counter-protesting, is a violation of everything the police should stand for in a democracy.
Allan Einstoss seems a victim of this syndrome. He is quoted in the media as saying he is thinking of legal action. As a settlement he'd seek a public inquiry instead of money. It probably won't come to that, but somebody should persuade police that peace at any price is bad value in a democracy.