Montreal Jews face rise in antisemitic incidents

Via Bob, James Martin has a piece in Ha’aretz, :

Montreal Jews fear ‘gang atmosphere’ amid rise in anti-Semitic incidents

Quebec is the latest region to fall prey to Canada’s growing anti-Semitism, registering the largest rise in incidents in a city over the course of the year – 373 incidents in 2009, compared to 245 in 2008.

Many in Montreal’s Orthodox Jewish community say they are afraid to leave their homes, due to the “gang atmosphere” that has taken over their neighborhood amid renewed anti-Semitic activity.

The Chabad community in the city’s Côte des Neiges district has experienced a number of violent incidences against it over the past few weeks, including the mugging of a visibly pregnant woman.

In addition, swastikas have been sprayed in at least three locations in the Montreal suburb of Outremont – home to a large segment of Hasidic Jews who wear traditional garb.

According to B’nai Brith Canada, which compiles the country’s figures on anti-Semitic incidents, reports of vandalism targeting Jewish schools, synagogues and businesses have accelerated rate in the last month.

“Some community members now reportedly think twice before they leave their homes. The ongoing fear and intimidation suffered by our community is an unacceptable situation in a free and democratic society like Quebec,” a spokesperson for the Quebec branch of B’nai Brith said.

“There have also been and anti Semitic slurs in educational and workplace settings and web-based hate activity is also on the increase,” the spokesperson added.

In March, the Ahavas Yisroel Viznitz synagogue in Outremont was broken into and two swastikas were drawn inside the synagogue. Vandals also threw prayer shawls and holy books onto the floor.

The rabbi of the synagogue met with police following that incident, but the perpetrators have still not been found.

Rabbi Mendel Marasow, executive director of Beth Rivkah Academy in Côte des Neiges, told a local paper. “I live in the area and if I compare the situation now to five years ago there is a serious problem.

“There is a gang atmosphere, with tough individuals walking the streets. It is uncomfortable and unsafe out there. Is it anti Semitic? Listen, all I can say is that Jews make good targets.”

One local Jewish café owner who had a swastika painted on the sidewalk in front of his business said he was worried about the “media attention” being given to anti-Semitic incidents.

“The Jewish community in Outremont has been getting a lot of media attention,” he told the Jewish Tribune. “I don’t want to see these incidents get too much publicity because it is only going to stir things up more. I did not even report this. Someone else did.”

Quebec is the latest region to fall prey to Canada’s growing anti-Semitism, registering the largest rise in incidents in a city over the course of the year – 373 incidents in 2009, compared to 245 in 2008. The province holds 90,000 Jews – around a quarter of Canada’s Jewish community.

In total, 1,264 incidents were reported in Canada throughout 2009, representing a 12% increase over the 1,135 cases in 2008, and a more than five-fold increase in incidents over the past decade. Last year there were 884 cases of harassment, 348 of vandalism and a doubling from 2008 in the incidents of violence to 32.

.
The anti-Semitic daubing seen in Montreal is nothing new in Canada. Calgary, Toronto, Oshawa, Woodstock, and Barrie have recently seen anti Semitic incidents including swastikas and slogans, such as “Kill Jews” and “six million more,” spray-painted on Jewish community property, community centers, Holocaust memorials, Jewish-owned residential property and vehicles.

B’nai Brith’s audit into anti Semitic incidents identified “anti-Israel agitators” fuelled by opposition to Operation Cast Lead as the trigger for the spike in attacks.

“Anti-Israel agitators, far-left-wing groups, and more recently Islamists, have latched onto Nazi motifs and age old anti-Jewish stereotypes, in an attempt to bolster their campaigns against the Jewish State, while the far-right-wing camp has eagerly embraced anti-Israel propaganda to give an updated appearance to its traditional hate material.”

According to Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President of B’nai Brith Canada, “Anti Semitism is a serious and ongoing problem here in Canada. We have encountered everything from harassment and vandalism to physical assaults on individuals. “
B’nai Birth’s community Anti-Hate Hotline is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to provide assistance and consultation but the organization is apprehensive about whether they are investigated as hate crimes.
“We hope that the law enforcement officials across the nation investigate these crimes as hate-crimes from the outset – hesitation to designate as a hate crime is simply unacceptable. We also urge that these crimes are treated seriously, and that proper resources are dedicated to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice,” said Dimant.

Although vandalism causes on-going fear in the street, the theme of anti-Israel agitation has reached boiling point, particularly on Campuses. This came to a head three weeks ago after an alleged machete attack on pro-Israel students. Two Ottawa students, both well-known for their pro-Israel views, were assaulted when they left a local lounge in the early hours of the morning, by a large group of anti-Israel agitators, one of whom was wielding a machete.

The Jewish student, who along with his friend was called numerous derogatory and anti Semitic slurs during the assault, was a local organizer of B’nai Brith’s recent Imagine With Us pro-Israel campus initiative – an initiative which was banned by York University, a university which last year saw Jewish Hillel students verbally abused by an anti-Israel group while trying to convene a press conference.
Actions like this are leading to calls for a ban on anti-Israel campaigns on campus, such as those witnessed during Israel Apartheid Week.

17 Responses to “Montreal Jews face rise in antisemitic incidents”

  1. Absolute Observer Says:

    Montreal/Quebec has a chequred history re:antisemitism, especially since the rise of the PQ. A few years back the PQ – in language that is now far more common – blamed their poor performance in an election on Jews and non-French speaking “immigrants”.

    Maybe, following the advice of Tony Klug, Jews in Montreal should wear badges, synogogues should put up posters, saying how they think Israel is wrong and how they are speaking out and please not to confuse them with bad Jews. After all, why should those Jews in Montreal live free of antisemitism whilst their co-religionists in Israel are causing such hatred by acting in such indecent ways. Indeed, the idea of collective guilt has always been a progressive take on racism and the causes of racism.

  2. Bill Says:

    I was following the Carleton assault case and I can say that I haven’t heard anything on it since the start of April. If it were debunked, as as happened with quite a few such cases that were found to be hoaxes, I’d suspect that the usual suspects would be tooting their horns by now. If an arrest was made, same thing from another group! The students claim to have recognized the face of at least one of the perps, but I’m surprised we haven’t heard anything since the first week, especially since this happened off campus.

  3. luny Says:

    THe “machete attack” against a supporter of Netanyahu is as antisemitic as throwing eggs at Nick Griffin was anti-British.

    • Bill Says:

      Throwing eggs at Nick Griffin while calling him a “G.D. Limey” would be anti-British. Assaulting a student while calling them an “f-ing Jew” (one of the assailed wasn’t Jewish, btw) is antisemetic. But keep pretending, Luny.

    • Thomas Venner Says:

      The students who were attacked were described as “pro-Israel” – there’s nothing there to suggest that they were supporters of Netanyahu. Support for a country and its people does not equate to support for that country’s government – by the logic that says it does, anyone who supports the people of Gaza would also be considered a supporter of Hamas. I’m “pro-Israel”, and I think Netanhayu is an arsehole. Plenty of my friends are also pro-Israel and they all think Netanyahu is an arsehole as well. In fact, Netanyahu’s consistent support for the settlers, who start riots in Israel and attack Israeli soldiers, and the fact that he seems intent on disrupting the peace process and antagonising Israel’s allies wherever possible would make it more likely for any supporter of Israel to be opposed to Netanyahu rather than supportive of him.

      • Bill Says:

        I don’t think it matters if they were Bibimaniacs or his opponents. Supporters of Israel or anything else shouldn’t have to haggle to a bunch of thugs or play 20 questions to avoid getting whooped. Plus one wasn’t even Jewish, but he was called a zionist and an “f-ing Jew,” anyway. I’m pretty sure they weren’t interested in the finer nuances of Israel party politics. All that mattered was that there were two high-profile “jews” to be bashed.

  4. David D. Says:

    AO,

    Sorry, you have it wrong.

    The statement you’re referring to was made by the leader of the P.Q., Jacques Parizeau, when the separatist side narrowly lost the October 30, 1995 referendum on (Quebec) sovereignty. The statement did not mention Jews and, to be frank, there was no indication that he was aiming at Jews at all in his statement, which blamed “money and ethnic votes” – the money being (“unfairly”) supplied by the federal government in Ottawa and the “ethnic vote” comprising, particularly, the large populations of Italians, Greeks, Portuguese and other immigrants in the Montreal region, who are not especially sympathetic to the nationalistic aims of French-speaking separatists.

    Regarding the larger issue of antisemitism in Quebec, I was born in Montreal and have lived here all my life. The old-style, religious-fuelled antisemitism of the pre-WWII era, is largely gone. Quebec went from being the most Church-dominated society in Canada pre-1960 to being the most liberal today. Religion (i.e. Catholicism) is mostly ignored except insofar as it embodies a certain Québécois nostalgia. There is very little antisemitism from that source. The antisemitism mentioned in the B’Nai Brith report is largely confined to the orthodox (Chabad and Haredi) communities in the Côte-des-Neiges and Outremont areas (not to the larger, modern-Jewish communities – Ashkenazic or Sephardic – in, say the Côte St. Luc, Hampstead and Laval areas) and is generated by local ethnic frictions (the Côte-des-Neiges population is overwhelmingly composed of immigrants from Philippines, Vietnam, Haiti, Sri Lanka, the Middle East and Latin America) with a spillover from the Israel-Palestine conflict. The visibility of the the Haredi and Chabad communities makes them convenient targets. But, overall, I would have to say – to the best of my admittedly limited and unscientific observation – that overt, physical antisemitism is not a large problem in Montreal (or elsewhere in Quebec), certainly not when compared to what is happening in some cities in Europe. Manifestations of anti-Israel prejudice, however, are more common and, worryingly, find fertile ground in the French-language media. There is no doubt that some of this gets translated into bald antisemitism.

  5. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “The antisemitism mentioned in the B’Nai Brith report is largely confined to the orthodox (Chabad and Haredi) communities in the Côte-des-Neiges and Outremont areas (not to the larger, modern-Jewish communities – Ashkenazic or Sephardic – in, say the Côte St. Luc, Hampstead and Laval areas) and is generated by local ethnic frictions (the Côte-des-Neiges population is overwhelmingly composed of immigrants from Philippines, Vietnam, Haiti, Sri Lanka, the Middle East and Latin America) with a spillover from the Israel-Palestine conflict. The visibility of the the Haredi and Chabad communities makes them convenient targets.”

    So that’s alright, then.

  6. Absolute Observer Says:

    Thansk D.D.

    “that overt, physical antisemitism is not a large problem in Montreal.”
    I guess it all depends on who defines “large”.

    Perhaps you should tell the Orthodox to stop looking so damn Jewish and then they won’t get attacked for being Zionists.

    I am sure that they will appreciate the distinction that they are being targetted for being Zionists and not Jews will put them at their ease.

    Perhaps, those thugs carrying out the attacks can fly-post the area explaining that their violence is motivated by anti-Zionism and not antisemitism so those Jews can appreciate that it is nothing more than “a spillover from the Israel-Palestine” conflict.

    I also love the patronising attitude in which Canadians (like the Brits and Europe in general) say, we used to be antisemitic, but not now. Now, it is the immigrants who need to be as enlightened as we are! We are “merely” anti-Zionist, can we help it if those not as mature as us cannot understand the difference between Jews and Zionists?

    As to your comments on the PQ. I was in Canada at the time he made the speech and for those I was with, a mix of NDP and Liberals (Jews and non-Jews) the meaning in the context it was made was very clear.

    “Quebec went from being the most Church-dominated society in Canada pre-1960 to being the most liberal today. Religion (i.e. Catholicism) is mostly ignored except insofar as it embodies a certain Québécois nostalgia.”

    I’m sorry, but the last I looked abortion was not legal in Quebec; is it still the case that you have to cross the border?

  7. Bill Says:

    “Perhaps you should tell the Orthodox to stop looking so damn Jewish and then they won’t get attacked for being Zionists.”

    Even if David doesn’t think this is a valid excuse for antisemitism, there are others who are happy to cite this as an excuse for a good jew-bashin’. It’s the “Richard Silverstein Formulation” (after his sick and self-serving rationalization for the Chabad House attack in Mumbai). “Can’t find an Israeli? No problemo. Just find a Jew, any Jew, preferably one that can’t fight back. It’s the same thing as going after the IDF or Mossad (but a lot safer!). Just don’t ever let them say that criticizing Israeli == Antisemitism. That’s our cake to eat, not theirs.”

  8. David D. Says:

    A.O.,

    Sorry, (you’re) wrong again.

    Abortion is legal everywhere in Canada (criminal law is a federal jurisdiction). Indeed, Canada is one of the few countries with no legal restrictions on abortion. Medical care is, however, a provincial jurisdiction. And, yes, not only is abortion legal in Quebec but the Régie de l’assurance maladie pays for the procedure (thanks in part to the efforts of a Jewish doctor, and Auschwitz survivor, Henry
    Morgentaler)!

    As for the 1995 speech by Parizeau, your interpretation is is not shared by anyone I know. Quebec Jews voted overwhelmingly “no”, but so did most “ethnics”. Indeed, in an interview some years later Parizeau explained that when he referred to “ethnic votes” he was referring to (recent) immigrant communities (most Jews have been here for 3 or 4 generations and are not “immigrants” in that sense) that he had hoped would repay Québécois hospitality by voting with the “host” society — e.g. recent (French-speaking) immigrants such as the Haitians, North Africans and Vietnamese. That they also voted “no” disappointed him immensely. In sum, this was clearly not a case of “cherchez les Juifs”. And, as for “money”, campaign funds for each side were strictly limited and capped. Parizeau’s complaint was a reference to the fact that the federal government in Ottawa was exempt from Quebec electoral laws and could therefore pay for ads and rallies on its own while the Quebec government was constrained to remain neutral.

    Re. antisemitism, I grew up in an orthodox milieu (I wore a yarmulke to school) and experienced antisemitism in the streets. Not pronounced but definitely present. That was half a century ago. That sort of (largely French-Canadian) antisemitism (fuelled by decades of Church dogma and sermonizing) is pretty much gone. In its place is a mixture of ethnic resentment and anti-Israel propaganda. In the areas where the Hassidic Jews live (e.g. Côtes-des-Neiges) there is plenty of inter-community friction: Vietnamese vs. blacks (from the West Indies), Filipinos vs. Latinos, Sri Lankan Tamils vs. Sinhalese, and so on. And the Hassidic Jews often get caught in the crossfire, so to speak. As always, there is resentment of what the others imagine as Jewish exclusiveness and preferentialism. The fact that the Hassidim are so visible exacerbates their predicament. However, compared to what conditions were like for Jews in, say the 1930s, when there were antisemitic rallies organized by Catholic groups and anti-Jewish rhetoric filled the French papers, this is is hardly alarming.

    All in all, Jews are well established (and well organized) in Montreal. (Last June, my neighbour was involved in the 1st International Yiddish Theatre Festival in Montreal — http://www.yiddishtheatre.org/en/index.php — with troupes/performers from Poland, Romania, Austria, Israel, France, Australia and the US, and she says that she could hardly have asked for better cooperation from the municipal government.) And, unlike some cities in Europe, antisemitism is responded to promptly by the local authorities — the police, the administration, the courts.

  9. David D. Says:

    Brian Goldfarb,

    I hope your comment “So that’s alright, then” was not directed at me. If you think my calling Chabad Jews or Hassidim “convenient targets” (of antisemitism) is somehow a justification of the practice, then you have a serious problem comprehending written English.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      And you have a problem comprehending English language irony.

      If you cannot appreciate that attacks on those who are recognisably “Jewish” are antisemitic, full stop, and that it makes no difference whether these attacks are justified as being either anti-Israel or anti-Zionism, then, yes, the comment is directed at you. If you cannot understand that the daubing of swastikas, the desecration of holy books and Torah scrolls, the scrawling of antisemitic slogans on walls and so forth, are totally unacceptable, whether the targets wear yarmulkas, broad-brimmed black hats, tsisttses and have long ringlets or against those showing none of these “signs”, is a symptom of a sick society, then you need to think very carefully before you put fingers to keyboards.

      Then we have this from you: “overt, physical antisemitism is not a large problem in Montreal.” What is your evidence that the reports on which the article at the head of this thread is based are wrong? Because this is exactly what you are saying in your comments. And so far, what you have said has offered absolutely no evidence, even if it offers much in the way of opinion as to what is “really” wrong in Montreal and Quebec. Presumably, the following from the opening of the article is wrong: “Quebec is the latest region to fall prey to Canada’s growing anti-Semitism, registering the largest rise in incidents in a city over the course of the year – 373 incidents in 2009, compared to 245 in 2008.”

      If you assert that this is so, why? What are _your_ facts? And how do get from there to your claims as to the rest of us being wrong?

      Oh, and an apology for the insult as to my failure to comprehend written English wouldn’t go amiss. But I’m not holding my breath that I’ll get one.

  10. Absolute Observer Says:

    So white Canada is Jewish heaven,
    damn shame about those immigrants, eh?

  11. Thomas Venner Says:

    Oh, be reasonable. It’s obvious they don’t have a problem with all Jews, just the “bad” Jews who have all those crazy far-out ideas about freedom and self-determination and who won’t learn their place. They’re just “anti-Zionists”, you see…


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