The Jewish community in Canada, particularly in Montreal, Quebec, is facing an alarming rise in blatant anti-semitic attacks. Since October 7th, Montreal police have registered 73 hate crimes and incidents targeting Jews. Despite official statements disconnecting these incidents from the conflict between Israel and Gaza, the Jewish population in this province feels the impacts greatly.
Yesterday, thirteen Montreal subway stations were vandalized with pro-Palestinian graffiti. The week prior saw two Jewish children’s schools targeted by live gunfire, one being attacked a second time within days. Additionally, the Palestinian Day of Rage led to direct threats against Jews with most synagogues employing guards and security personnel.
A synagogue in Montreal’s Dollard-Des-Ormeaux area was firebombed, with incendiary devices hurled at its entrance last week. Concordia University, a campus with a long history of turning a blind eye to the intimidation of Jewish students, witnessed physical clashes and widespread bullying against Jewish students. This included an incident where the showcasing of photographs of Israeli hostages on campus, with permission, escalated into a confrontation that campus security and police struggled to manage, raising serious questions about free speech and Jewish student safety.
Regular protests near the Jewish community’s main highway exit have seen numerous instances of anti-Semitic behavior, including the tearing down of signs depicting Israeli hostages and insults hurled at Jewish vehicles and pedestrians. Local Jewish businesses now face boycotts and vandalism, with a list of Jewish-owned businesses circulating online. Some of these protesters have not only boycotted these businesses but have also gone as far as to visit and vandalize them. One downtown Jewish-owned café reported swastikas painted on their menus alongside anti-Semitic slurs.
Then there is Adil Charkaoui, the infamous Montreal Imam, previously arrested in 2003 under a security certificate, after having trained in the Khalden terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. Since the October 7th attacks, Charkaoui has taken an active and aggressive stance at Palestinian protests. Last week he called for Allah to “kill all the enemies of Gaza and spare none of them” while denouncing the ‘Zionist aggressors’.
Government officials across Canada, including the Prime Minister, have condemned these actions, pledging support for Jewish communities. Quebec Premier François Legault is considering a ban on protests related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Education Minister Bernard Drainville has labeled these actions as terrorism. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante has also spoken out against the rise in anti-Semitism. But despite all of these statements of support, it seems that Canadian Jews still cannot go about their life without worrying about being targets.
Notably silent since October 7th, is Bochra Manaï, Montreal’s commissioner on racism and systemic discrimination, whose lack of response to these events has been pointed out by community leaders and whose complicit silence alone, should be sufficient reason for her removal from the role.
With these increasing threats, the Jewish community in Canada and globally is facing a critical question: Should they consider taking their safety into their own hands, which might include arming themselves?