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.

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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.

On Frankie Boyle, Jews and Israelis

It’s now common-place for people who think they’re being to-the-point about matters concerning Israel to then go on to confuse Jew, Israeli and Zionist, implicating them interchangeably in Israel’s policies, often with intense hostility.

You might assume an honest mistake but if, on being corrected, they become indignant and start going on about being gagged, speaking truth to power and so on, then you have to entertain the idea that they’re labouring under an aversion to Jews imperfectly contained in a more socially-acceptable aversion to Zionists and Israel.

Frankie Boyle, dispensing with the figleaf, proposed that his audience should think of Palestine as a cake punched to bits by a Jew and then, when lightly reprimanded after a complaint was upheld, accused the BBC of capitulating to a “lobby” and with startling sincerity disclosed that he had written the jokes in support of Palestinians.

A Richard Herring tweet got me to this by The Man Who Fell Asleep.

He talks about the difficult relationship many Jews outside Israel have with Israel, exacerbated by Israel’s policy towards Palestinians, and continues:

“What really annoys me about Boyle’s letter to the BBC is the tone. This is the pathetic self-pity of a man who courts controversy, who happily laughs at down-syndrome kids but feels that he can take the moral high-ground when the BBC rebukes him for villifying a minority. He continues his letter by explaining that he once watched a documentary about Palestine, sounding like nothing more than David Cameron explaining that he once met a black man. Well, you’ve watched a documentary about Palestine! Brilliant! That certainly makes you an expert, or at least cool enough to stride around Dalston in a Palestinian scarf, high-fiving those who wish the destruction of Israel.

Oh, and of course he talks of “well-drilled lobbying,” which plays into the hands of those who believe the Jews control the media. Is there are pro-Israel lobby? Of course there is, just as there’s a pro-Palestinian lobby and a pro-Iranian lobby and a pro-American lobby. All sides have their lobbies.

He continues with more self-pity: “…I cried at that [the documentary] and promised myself that I would do something. Other than write a few stupid jokes I have not done anything. Neither have you.””

There’s something really ugly about seeing a person’s sense of their own cosmic impotence curdle into vindictive blame.

Hat tip: my other half (who must be Richard Herring’s most devoted fan).

Ken Waltzer responds to John Mearsheimer

In a recent bizarre speech at the Palestine Center in Washington DC, April 29, “The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. New Afrikaners, ” political scientist John Mearsheimer went over the top.[1] He predicted the future in the otherwise unpredictable Middle East, characterizing Israelis as inevitable “Afrikaners” in charge of an apartheid state and Palestinians as inevitable secular democrats. He also characterized American Jews as either righteous Jews (if they agree with him and demonize Israel) or as “new Afrikaners” loyal to the Zionist state (if they don’t).

Regarding American Jews in general, it was somewhat unclear in his mind whether they could achieve the standard of righteousness to which he aspires for them, that is, adopt the views articulated by the likes of Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, or the crackpot Phil Weiss, or would simply when the time came turn out to be damn Jews.

This speech will stimulate new questions about Mearsheimer, co-author of the Israel Lobby, and his attitudes about Jews and his judgment. That book was sloppy and tendentious scholarship but this speech went well beyond. To Mearsheimer, Israelis are stumbling toward full-fledged apartheid in a Greater Israel; American Jewish leaders are “blindly loyal” to a foreign state. The Israel lobby (AIPAC etc) embraces racism and endorses Greater Israel. All righteous people, Mearsheimer implied, ought to be opposed to Israel on anti-racist grounds. Apparently, it is today okay once again to objectify Jews or groups of Jews as out of step with humane values.

A century ago, the social scientist Edward A. Ross stood on Union Square in New York City watching the immigrant Jews going by, commenting on their physiognomy whose features to him betrayed obvious failures of intelligence and promise. Now, another social scientist presumes to comment on all the Jews – there and also here — and on their moral promise. What happened to the cautious Mearsheimer who told the Forward in 2006 one must address these subjects carefully? “I don’t have an agenda…,” he said.

Read the rest on the SPME website here.

Volunteer for Hope Not Hate’s final push in Stoke, Barking and Dagenham

Volunteer for day-by-day activities coordinated (very well) by Hope Not Hate in the run-up to Thursday’s elections.

No s**t Sherlock

A post by Saul.

After years of the Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Independent Jewish Voices ranting on and on about the power of the “Israel Lobby” and how we need a “rational debate” about it and how influential it is in the UK and Britain, a piece containing the following appears in JfJfP’s latest newsletter, criticising Obama for a lack of pressure on Israel:

“While the “Israel lobby” thesis conveniently explains his failure to do so and absolves US policy-makers of responsibility for their ongoing support of Israeli apartheid, violence and annexation, it simply does not stand up under closer scrutiny.”

The newsletter, whilst replete with the normal misrepresentations of Israel as “apartheid” etc, claims that the “Lobby” argument does not stand up to scrutiny! No s**t Sherlock (or should that be Shylock?)!

Since the recent resurrection of this old canard, Engage has been saying exactly this, whilst simultaneously drawing attention to its formulation as a repetition of antisemitic myths.

JJfP and IJV have, from their inception, allowed themselves to be blown like a straw in the wind. Their tendency to uncritically accept any negative narrative that relates to Israel or Jews, whether it connects with antisemitic libels or not, is notorious.

Maybe now they can admit to themselves, and others, that their failure to connect with any meaningful section of their “target audience” (the so-called “Jewish community”) has nothing to do with the alleged omnipotence of the Board of Deputies, the Chief Rabbi or the Board of Deputies, but their own inability to recognise antisemitism when it stares them in the face.

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