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Could Montreal be the next LA?

Latest Montreal riot raises considerations about possible anti-Semitism

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Destroyed windows and store fronts, in downtown Montreal | Photo: Aviva Engel

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Montreal’s Ste-Catherine Street East was practically deserted yesterday afternoon with only a handful of pedestrians strolling down the sidewalks in the light rain. Were it not for two news reporters broadcasting in front of the largely-shuttered Steve’s Music Store, one might even have assumed it was under renovation. Except, as has been widely publicized, Steve’s was among the dozens of retailers targeted by looters on Sunday night following a peaceful protest against racial profiling and police brutality in the wake of the death of Minneapolis’ George Floyd.

As the Justice for George movement gains worldwide traction, Jews and Israel are increasingly becoming the targets of related anti-Semitism. First, as Editor-in-Chief Marty Gold noted in his editorial, Israel was blamed for training American police officers. Then, over the weekend, synagogues in Los Angeles’ Fairfax neighborhood were defaced with vile graffiti, while stores selling kosher food were looted and left significantly damaged.

The last overtly anti-Semitic Montreal riot occurred in 2002 at Concordia University, prior to a scheduled visit and address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Attendees sought refuge in the auditorium while protestors smashed windows, hurled projectiles and shouted anti-Semitic slurs. During the unrest, Holocaust Survivor Dr. Thomas Hecht, founder of Bar-Ilan’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), was among those who were assaulted – in his case pushed against a wall, kicked in the groin and spat on.

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To date, the Montreal Jewish community has not been the target of anti-Semitism concomitant to the Justice for George movement. In light of the LA attacks and the most recent vandalism of a Côte St-Luc synagogue, communities across Canada stand to be prepared.

Graffiti on various walls, De Maisonneuve Boulevard West, Montreal | Photo: Aviva Engel

Vandalism is not a new phenomenon for Montreal kosher restaurant owners. Chops Resto-Bar, the now-defunct Café Shalom, and Fuego and Mediterraneo steakhouses were all firebombed between 2013 and 2015, as was Pizza Pita in 2018. Investigations into the arsons did not conclude the incidents were a direct result of anti-Semitism.

“We haven’t put in any extra security measures,” said David Malka, owner of Montreal kosher eateries Yakimono Sushi Bar and Restaurant Mozart. “It’s in God’s hands. I hope they wouldn’t choose to target us, but if they do, it’s in God’s hands. But I don’t feel threatened.”

Windows smashed, Ste. Catherine Street East corner St. Laurent, Montreal | Photo: Aviva Engel

TheJ.ca contacted Federation CJA’s Director of Community Security in Montreal, as well as the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) to inquire about any security protocols being implemented within the community. 
 
We did not hear back from them before press.
TheJ.ca will report any further developments.
 

Edit: David Ouellette, Director, Research and Public Affairs (Québec) of CIJA sent this statement after press time:

Federation CJA’s security professionals liaise at all times with the Montreal Police to ensure the security of the Jewish community and there is currently no indication of any increased threat to Montreal’s Jewish community and its institutions.”

Moreover, “the spate of firebombings of kosher restaurants in Montreal in 2012 and 2013 were categorically not motivated by antisemitism.”

Aviva Engel is an award-winning freelance journalist and director of communications at Hebrew Academy in Montreal. She is the lead editor and master storyteller at outsourcecopywriting.com.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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