Toronto-area realtor business suspended after post that appears to mock Gaza Strip airstrikes – Toronto

A Toronto-area real estate agent has had his business suspended by the franchise that runs it after a social media post about the Israel-Hamas conflict drew swift and sharp criticism.

A screenshot posted online appears to show a Re/Max agent mocking destroyed buildings and rubble in the Gaza Strip.

The Gaza Strip has been pounded by Israeli airstrikes since Hamas — listed as a terror group by the Canadian government — launched a brutal attack on Israel from the area on Oct. 7.

The Hamas attack left more than 1,400 Israelis dead and led to a declaration of war by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the days after the attack, Israel also cut electricity, water and food supplies to Gaza and its residents. The Gaza Health Ministry said 3,478 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, and more than 12,000 wounded.

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“Coming to the market,” a social media post from an account named Vadim Vilensky said, with two laughing emojis.

Accompanying the post was a picture that appeared to show rubble in the Gaza Strip. “Off market, 130 square miles, Ocean front lot, No utility, No power / water,” the post said.

The Gaza Strip is 140 square miles, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Numerous online references, including an official website, suggest Vilensky is a realtor with Re/Max. A website for Vadim Vilensky Real Estate says he is based in the Toronto-area.


A screenshot of the social media post.


Screenshot

Around a week after the initial post was reported on, Vilensky contacted Global News and shared an apology for the post.

He said he was an Israeli and Jewish-Canadian who “in a moment of misjudgment and overwhelming emotions” shared the post and accompanying comments.

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“Fueled by overwhelming sadness and depression, my judgment became clouded by the constant images of suffering experienced by my people,” he wrote.

“It was in this state of mind that I mistakenly shared a post that does not reflect who I am as an individual and what I believe in. I acknowledge that it was a momentary lapse of judgment, and I am truly ashamed and regretful for my actions.”

He said he had donated to humanitarian efforts in Gaza and was “seeking professional help and have reached out for guidance from community leaders on both sides to better understand the complexity of this crisis.”

Condemnation of the original post came quickly after it was shared.

“RE/MAX Canada deeply disagrees with the actions and sentiments of Mr. Vilensky’s social media post, as it conflicts with our values,” the real estate brand said in a statement.

Re/Max said it suspended Vilensky and is conducting an investigation.

Paul Baron, the president of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, said his organization has also launched an investigation.

“There is no place for intolerance or insensitivity during these concerning times in global affairs,” Baron said.

He added that the Real Estate Council of Ontario, which regulates the industry is also aware of and looking into the post.

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An online petition to have Vilensky’s real estate license revoked had more than 9,000 signatures on Wednesday evening.

Editors note: This story was updated on Oct. 25 to include details of Vilensky’s apology.

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