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Aux Armes

A recent series of anti-Semitic attacks in Montreal hints at a new kind of internationally influenced hate crime in Quebec, a semi-autonomous province with a wave of Muslim immigrants

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The Outremont stop on the Montreal Métro. (PnP!/Flickr)
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I cannot recall any Jews being particularly shaken by the familiar French Canadian ritual of throwing stones at synagogues when I was growing up in Montreal’s multiethnic Outremont neighborhood in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Not only was it a common occurrence that garnered no press attention; it was in fact a bit of a game, immortalized by writers like the novelist Mordecai Richler and poet Irving Layton. Another such game was the Quebecois kids’ ritual of throwing snowballs at “les maudits Juifs” (the very first French words I learned as a young child) walking to and from synagogues and yeshivas.

While we never dared retaliate against the stunning stained glass of the town’s ubiquitous Catholic churches, vigorous snowball battles between Jewish and French kids (often with rocks embedded in the snow) were an almost daily activity in the wintertime. I recall this warfare rather fondly, as I do many more unhealthy aspects of growing up in a charged and diverse environment in the days before “diversity” became an abstract social ideal.

We kids did not shake; we fought back. And the shattering of glass did not evoke Kristallnacht to the many equally unshaken Holocaust survivors then living in Outremont. The most frequently targeted shuls simply installed wired window shields. Problem solved.

How different has been the worried response to this weekend’s attacks on four synagogues and a yeshiva in Montreal’s most heavily Jewish-populated township, Cote St. Luc. The vandalism, which left a number of windows shattered but no one hurt and no Torah scrolls or sacred books damaged, led the evening news on both of Montreal’s English television stations. “Montreal Jews Shaken After Four Synagogues, School Vandalized” read the headlines in Monday’s Montreal Gazette. The story also led the Sunday evening news on Canada’s national CTV network.

One might credit this sudden flood of attention to the prevailing ethic of political correctness, in which slurs and petty hate crimes that were once accepted as part of life in the big city are now taken with the utmost seriousness. After all, the very idea of creating a separate, more seriously punishable, criminal category for “hate-based crimes” only emerged in the 1980s, in both Canada and the United States.

Yet the real reason the recent spate of attacks on Montreal’s Jewish institutions—as well as some recent physical assaults on Hasidic Jews in Outremont—is newsworthy is that ethnic violence is no longer local, and the perpetrators (those who have been apprehended to date) are not Quebecois street toughs. After the firebombing of the United Talmud Torah in the Montreal suburb of Ville St. Laurent in 2004, the nasty work of North African Muslim immigrants, the Jews of Montreal came to a painful realization that they were no longer dealing with rock-filled snowballs. Today’s attacks are not a continuation of the lame local games we used to play. They are something new, and more frightening.

The Montreal Chamber of Commerce has long showcased the city as a taste of Europe within driving distance of New York and Boston, which it is. But, along with the sweetness of old Europe, Montrealers have been tasting the ugliness of the new Europe’s serious violence and racial tensions, generated by a rapidly growing underclass of Muslim immigrants.

Unlike American states, as well as Canada’s other nine provinces, Quebec enjoys complete autonomy in the domain of immigration policy—and has long given priority to immigrants from former French colonies such as Haiti and Vietnam. Today, the largest numbers of French speakers come from former colonies in Arab lands from Morocco to Lebanon. The city of Montreal today has the world’s largest Lebanese community outside of Beirut and the second-largest Moroccan and Algerian diasporas, after Paris and Marseilles. As in France itself, these immigrants have brought a deep, historically rooted contempt for European cosmopolitanism and heavy doses of anti-Semitism. Those apprehended by the Montreal police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for involvement in the dozen or so attacks on Jewish institutions in the city during the past five years—which included the fire-bombings of a synagogue and a Jewish day school—were all Quebeckers of North African descent. None were native French Quebecois.

How the city’s Jewish community, already severely depleted by the mass exodus that followed the rise to power of the separatist Parti Quebecois, fares remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: Attacks on Jewish institutions such as those of last weekend are part of a grave international problem. And Montreal is increasingly becoming a lure for those who dream of more spectacular—and potentially devastating—acts of terror.

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Matthew Leon Grinshpun says:

This article contains at least two major inaccuracies. First, the events in question have not been “ignored” by the province’s French-language media. Here, for example, is La Presse’s article on the Jewish community’s reaction, published on January 17:

I’ll note that it is now January 19, and the article in question is still prominently displayed in the Metro section of La Presse’s site.

Furthermore, Quebec does not “enjoy complete autonomy in the domain of immigration policy.” The author would benefit from a quick glance at the government of Quebec’s take on this issue:

Quebec has partial autonomy in immigration. By the way, so do Manitoba and British Columbia:

If these were harmless mistakes, I wouldn’t waste my pedantically refuting them. The problem, though, is that these claims are part of a historic pattern of misunderstanding, ranging from factual errors to outright slander, between Quebec’s Jewish and Francophone populations. The facts, at least in this case, matter.

B”H 1/19/11. Let us not jump to conclusions. We may, however weigh certain assumptions. Firstly, the present day circumstances are thinner than the ozone as pertains to having cushioned the blow of the Holocaust. Presumably, the same hatred which impelled nations and populations to wipe out the Jewish People, (and they did not relinquish) the hope to be rid of us forever. Secondly, the Muslim populations are threatened minority no matter how threatening to those who feel they will be forced to succumb to multitudinous migrations that revamp the citizen registry until staid as indigenous as once the Indians were in THOSE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES. The eternal hope of Jewish people has been return to the Holy Land; there their secure freedom. Solution to the problems of community friction are conflict resolution; they whom feel threatened and act repulsively such will truly regret if they learn the value of their own humanity, inevitable and unavoidable as part of the human condition. Maybe find the avenue where the Jewish ingenuity can involve the economically distraught and homeless to improve their own circumstances with rehabilitative projects that result in great tax savings. There is so much bad press these days we must double out efforts to shine forward as an example of people who cherish family and community life and treasure our places of worship beyond the breath and breadth of my individuality. Those who may gain by repentance should repair and be forgiven. You may read my earnest efforts to portray my vision towards a secure freedom at , pg. 2

richard friedman says:

Two words come to mind……..and they are on a Metro Station approved by the Government of Quebec……….Lionel Groulx!!! Enough said.

Franz Gorman says:

My mother only recently told me, as her aging brings up memories farther and farther away, of the rock throwing that is referenced in this article. She too grew up n Outremont, although during the 40s and 50s, and she told me of having to walk by the French kids on the way to and from school, how the boys in her group of walking friends (brothers and cousins) would be the targets of rock throwing and more. I was trying to get at the roots of her extreme anti-Francophone sentiments that caused her to move her family to Florida when the Parti Quebecois took power in 1977; I never understood it, being more “educated” I always thought the French were entitled to their anti-English stances. Only in more recent tears have I bothered to explore the nauseating history of cultural, political, and economic anti-Semitism that runs through the history of Quebec. I always accused my mother, in my own way, of not being the righteous Jew she should be: open-hearted and invested in the unjustice plights of the oppressed the world over, that -as a Jew – she should have an inherent understanding of what it feels like to be a minority with the majority making laws that try to undo who you are.

Learning of the systemic anti-Semitism in Quebec that my grandparents had to deal with as Eastern European immiigrants shook all that I so arrogantly thought I knew. And after my mother told me of the fear she lived with as a child, a fear of the French bullies that later in her life took on different forms when she was trying to run a business and as a property owner, I saw things differently. And I understood that, as a Jew with both immigrant and untraceable roots, the move to Florida from Montreal was yet another attempt to flee and to find peace.

When I was given an assignment in my graduate Arts Based Research class to create an autoethographic (trendy thing these days) presentation I had to witness one after another Canadian tell their story and show how their research is connected to

Phillip says:

In regard to “Reb Moshe Zalman”: I hope he does learn English quickly.

There are more recent anti-Semitic incidents in Quebec than mentioned by your correspondent, many outside Montreal.

I grew up in small-town English Canada in the 1950’s where they used fists on us Jewish kids and brought anti-Semitic jokes to show-and-tell. Canada had a “none is too many” policy towards Jewish refugees from Nazi murder. The public broadcaster, CBC, our “Little Mosque on the Airwaves” is not Israel friendly, to put it mildly, and it did not carry the above vandalism story.

Marty Janner says:

Working as a waiter in the Adirondacks, where many of the workers were French-Canadians, there was not a hint of antisemitism. As a matter of fact the adult camp was owned by Jews, and many of our guests were of the same persuasion, however that was then, and this is now!

Montreal, historically been a melting pot with many of the problems that here in NYC and other metropolitan areas experienced. Quebec being it’s own master, relative to immigration, does have a serious problem!

In the past the Canadian government has been exposed to a revolt of the French speaking Provinces, and able to overcome it. However the government, once again must find a solution!

Canada, by it’s own DNA has always welcomed those that wished come to it’s community as evidenced by Native American Tribes, and the Black Slaves, during the Civil War Period. This is the quandary they now face, hopefully they will find the appropriate solution!

Harvey Samuels says:

Mr. Grinshprun is wrong. Quebec indeed had total autonomy in approving immigrants, part of its “Special Status” whithin the Canadian confederation. All Canad does is provide the documents: visas, and then passports. The Federal Canadian government cannot overturn the acceptance of an immigrant for residence by the Quebec Assemblee National.

Even the source in Wikipdia cited by Grinshprun makes this evident:

“The arrangement gives Quebec the exclusive responsibility of choosing immigrants and refugees still living in their foreign countries but wishing to relocate to the province.”

“Exclusive responsibility”

The agreements with Manitoba and Alberta are not nearly as sweeping.

And, as for the alleged patten of maligning Quebec, Rabbi Nadler has quite a history of writing very positively, even romantically about Quebec, and especially about Montreal; and he does it here too. That was one of the points of the article as I read it. Quebecois anti-semitism was a common form of ethnic strife back in the days of his youth. Now, coming less from French Quebecois and more from Arab immigrants, it is something more sinister.

Matthew Fishbane says:

Thanks, Mr. Grinshpun, for alerting us to the French-language coverage. The piece has been modified in response.

this is a disgusting article, full of unfounded speculation, generalizations about immigrants, xenophobia and race-baiting. all of which make the job of confronting anti-semitism in montreal more difficult.

When I was growing up in the Montreal suburb of St. Laurent in the sixties, rock fights between the English kids and what we called “the Frenchies” were regular occurrences. We never met or spoke with them; by some silent arrangement, both groups just showed up at different ends of a weedy field (now a park) and began lobbing rocks. It was a stupid kid thing. I never heard of a snowball or rock-throwing fight with Jews, but if there had been one, it would have meant about as much.

Matthew Leon Grinshpun says:

Mr. Samuels: A considerable proportion of Quebec’s immigrant population is composed of those refugees granted asylum. These fall outside of the Canada-Quebec accord, and outside of your rather selective reading of the sentence in question (a reminder: “refugees still living in their foreign countries but wishing to relocate to the province.”)

Quoting from the government source cited earlier:
“Persons who are granted refugee status while residing in Québec are not subject to the Québec selection process.

Canada is also responsible for determining, on humanitarian grounds, whether to process in Canada, an application for permanent residence. If Canada acquiesces, the person is subject to the Québec selection process.”

This is not negligible.

Maybe I’m splitting hairs here, though, because the larger point is this: An unfortunate and dismaying crime has been commited, but we have yet to find a culprit. This anonymous crime is being used as fodder for a tendentious editorial that reaches the following conclusion, “Montreal is increasingly becoming a lure for those who dream of more spectacular—and potentially devastating—acts of terror.”

I am not dismissing the claim outright, but it is a serious accusation, an accusation aimed directly at a cultural minority, and one fed by claims that this minority bears a “deep, historically rooted contempt for European cosmopolitanism” (the Lebanese? Seriously?) Given the lessons of our history, we should demand, at a minimum, some convincing evidence, and a half-decent grasp of the facts.

brynababy says:

Mr. Grinshpun, nowhere do I find the word “ignored” in this article. Instead,
“garnered no press attention” refers to the acts of vandalism and anti-semitism in the 50’s and 60’s- not in the present time. Quite the opposite, the writer states that “How different has been the worried response to this weekend’s attacks…led the evening news on both of Montreal’s English television stations…(and) also led the Sunday evening news on Canada’s national CTV network.

Matthew Leon Grinshpun says:

brynababy – Scroll up the thread. The article was modified in light of my comment.

To claim that Canada’s national – aka “Government sponsored” – broadcaster is not “Israel friendly” because it broadcasts a lightweight sitcom about Muslims living in a small town is simply juvenile and it completely obscures the real issue here.

a concerned jew says:

having lived most of my life in new york and los angeles, i am sad to say that i, like most americans, know little if anything about canada. i just wanted to note, as does the article, that anti-semitism in europe is growing in proportion to the rate of immigration of moslems. while an attempt at dialogue is always a worthwhile endeavor, i fear that many of these immigrants are uninterested in dialogue with jews or in joining the cultures in which they now reside. it seems that montreal is beginning to witness a war that is being ignored in most of the nations in which it now exists. calling the problem xenophobia and/or race-baiting is merely putting one’s head in the sand. wake up.

Solomon says:

I belong to a big Hasidic synagogue in Mile End, I remember a few years ago when in middle of our Friday night service we heard a loud crash on the window of the main sanctuary, we discovered that the outside glass was totally shattered, but we never even thought about reporting it to the authorities, its just a lost case with these anti-semites.

Irwin Block says:

Dear chaverim,
I grew up in lower Outremont in the 1940s and 1950s until the age of about 14 and I never saw or met anyone who said they had a fight with a French-speaking neighbour. My children, Ariel and Myriam, attended French schools from the age of three up to university and never experienced even a hint of any Jewishness. Stuff happens. People deface mosques, here and elsewhere. They daub swastikas on tombstones. They might throw stones, or even a firebomb. But ask the growing community of some 12,000 Hasidim who live here why they stay. Satmer, Wishnitz, Klausenberg, Belz, Lubavitch, Tosh, are thriving. I even met Neturei Karta boichiks shouting Viva Palestina and demonstrating against Israel.
A coordinated attack in the middle of the night with rocks against four synagogues and a yeshivah is very bad, but it’s hardly Treblinka.

It can’t happen again. That’s what Jews always say. Then it was black and white today it’s in color and 3D so it can’t happen again. I be they said the same words in 1939 and all through the Holocaust.

Jews weren’t always cowards. The Jews of the bible were the bravest fighters in the world and acknowledged so by the Greeks, the Romans and others.

Jews better learn how to fight agaist these Arabs because the Arab feeds on weakness and they become more violent the nicer you are. Jews better organize themselves and learn how to use weapons. Rabbi Meir Kahane said, “Every Jew a .22″. I say every Jew a 9mm. It’s 2011 and stil it doesn’t end. Think of all the Jewish victims before you and don’t allow yourself to become a victim. I read some of the comments and they are pathetic. Jews are the easiest target of all peoples in the world. I would rather die with a knife in my hand against a machine gun then do nothing to protect my family and my fellow Jews.

Bill Levy

Yankel says:

Irwin, you are a reporter from the Montreal Gazette, and you actually can write this with a straight face ?

If you were growing up in Montreal in the 1930’s and 1940’s you might have heard of Le Bloc Quebecois, a fascist anti-semitic party led by Adrein Arcan; you should have heard the cries of “a bas les Juifs” at their frequent demonstrations; you might have read about or heard from your parents about the bloody baseball bat fights between the Jewish kids from the Y on Park Avenue and the Bloc’s street thugs. The history of the debates about conscription into the army, in which the French press,especially the overtly anti-Semitic, Le Devoir, referred to it as the Jews’ War; the “achat chez-nous boycott of Jewish stores. Quebec history, especially in the Duplessis era was soaked in anti-Semitism. That you are unaware of it is shocking, especially given your profession.

As for the Hasidim, asked them why they stayed in Poland. Or at least ask then how they feel about their neighbors. You will be very surprised. There is no love lost in Outremont and Mile End between the French and the Hasidim. Quite the contrary.

Yankel says:

I meant Le Bloc Populaire, not Le Bloc Quebecois which is a current federal separatist party with liberal political bent and absolutely no animosity to the Jewish community. I think this was Nadler’s point. Today’s anti-semitism is coming less and less from the Quebecois French and more and more from the North Africans. And as for the Lebanese whom Grinshprun mockingly asks about their alleged contempt for western imperialism, I have one word: Hizbollah. Nadler was obviously not speaking about the Christian Lebanese community that has good relations with the Jewish community. And for Avi, wake up man, and lose the politically-correct, “oh this is so shocking” rhetoric. There was no racism in that article.

I’m sorry, but I almost cannot believe what some of these apologists are writing. No, “it’s hardly Treblinka”, but it certainly bears a great deal of resemblance to Nazi Germany in the early and mid-thirties. Apparently some people simply don’t bother with history. The Shoah did not begin with Kristalnacht. It started much earlier.

Yes, there has been a certain amount of “juvenile” or even adult anti-Semitism in Quebec, as one would almost expect in a very Catholic, Francophone area. Having lived through a number of such incidents, in the US, I’m sensitive to the issue, but I think that I can make a distinction between earlier times and today.

All one needs to do is take a look at the incidents, generally anti-Israeli, but bleeding well over into anti-Semitism, that have happened on college campuses in Canada (and the incidents at Concordia are certainly in the forefront) to understand that parts of Canada are very welcoming to this rising tide of anti-Semitic attacks.

I love these people who distinguish between ant-Israel and anti-Antisemitism. I guarantee you that if you sit down for an in depth talk with someone who claims that he is only anti-Zionist but loves the Jews, you will discover that he is an anti-Semite.
Let’s stop kidding ourselves. It’s dangerous.

Nina W says:

Local toughs throwing snowballs filled with rocks is a part of every Jewish kid’s background, growing up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s whether Montreal or in the Bronx. What’s scarier now is the hatred and violence directed against Jews everywhere, in Montreal, Sweden or even Crete, where an old synagogue was torched by foreign visitors of Moslem descent. Why is this spate of burning synagogues, attacking Jews and Jewish businesses any different than what the Nazis did? Why are we making excuses for people who hate us racially and completely?

Raymond in DC says:

There isn’t a single Western country that doesn’t have a problem stemming from its Muslim immigrant populations. Ours is a culture that, as Ibn Warraq has pointed out and however imperfectly, is built on the principles of universalism, rationalism and self-criticism – all foreign to Islam. To the believers among them, we are infidels, unbelievers, kaffirs, while they are the “most perfect”. (This is a core element of their theology.)

They come from locales where, for more than a millennium, they have been the majority and dominant culture. Unlike the Jews, they have scant cultural history as a minority people. It is therefore no surprise that, wherever they settle, they seek to reestablish their dominant status whether through independence, autonomy, special accommodations, or the phenomenon in many Western cities of “no go zones” where state authority does not hold. This is not xenophobia; this is reality for those willing to see.

This article was disappointing to read, because it indirectly implicates French Canadian society in these acts.

A lot of Anglophone Jews who have left Montreal or still feel stigmatized by past anti-Semitism or Quebecois nationalism have legitimate feelings of resentment. But for the rest of us, especially the young Montreal Jews who truly love this city and feel passionate about creating and sustaining positive Jewish life here, this attitude is incredibly off-putting and anachronistic.

We invest our time, our careers, our money and friendships in this city and community. We are friends with other Jews here and friends with non-Jews as well, including French Canadians and yes sometimes Arabs or Muslims! We take these acts very seriously and care about the security of the Jewish community, but we will not allow the views of a writer who no longer lives here to represent the entire community.

The author of this article implicitly seeks to not only extend the trends of the exodus of the 1970s-1990s (which have long since ended), but would like to fan the fears of a Quebec in the 1930s/40s by imagining Montreal as just another Parisian suburb. This is patently false – Montreal’s Arabic and Muslim immigrant populations are far more integrated into Quebec and Canadian society than those in Europe and have a much better chance to succeed economically. It is frankly shocking to see this come from a writer who has served this community as a rabbi at a very prominent synagogue. If he cared about his former congregants and community, he would not try to sabotage the Montreal Jewish community’s recovery.

Our answer to these attacks is the following: Increase security of our institutions, continue reaching out to the majority of the Arab and Muslim populations who are friendly to Jews, and finally to stridently reject views like Nadler’s that seek to prove that Jewish life in Montreal is not viable. He is wrong – we are here to stay!

The simple answer to all of the above is to stop letting muslims from
immigrating to Quebec. They are like a cancer and where ever they settle, their holy book tells us that if we are not Muslim like them,
we are Infidels. In their minds, that makes them superior and anyone else inferior.

Allan Nadler says:

Although it is my practice not to respond to comments on articles I write, I feel compelled to respond to Josh’s posting. Quite the opposite of implicating French Canadians, I tried to make it quite clear that they are no longer the likely perpetrators of such acts. As for my personal sentiments about Montreal, it is the city I love most of any. I spend all of my summers there, where I teach classes and am involved in Jewish community affairs. All who know me are very aware of my great pride in and love for Montreal, its history and its great cultural legacy, both Jewish and Quebecois. If I didn’t care so much about the Montreal Jewish community’s future and welfare, I would not bother to write about its challenges. As for the exodus of Jews having “long ended”, if only that were correct. It is no longer a panicked stream fleeing to Toronto, but the attrition of young educated Jews goes on unabated, and is a source of major concern to the Jewish community’s organizations. The only growing sub-communities in Montreal are the Sefardim and the Hasidim: the Ashkenazic community, that was once the core of Montreal Jewry is an aging and depleting population; this saddens me greatly, but there is no point in ignoring painful realities.

Pierre Carbonneau says:

Some peoples here are misleading readers…

Adrien Arcand was not the leader of the “Bloc Québécois” nor the “Bloc populaire”. He was the chief of the Parti National-Social Chrétien (PNSC) in 1934, and became national leader of the National Unity Party of Canada in 1938. He was a Canadian fascist, an antisemite, and an admirer of the British Empire. His party was member of the Imperial Fascist League. During WWII, Adrien Arcand was incarcerated at Petawawa,Ontario.


The Bloc Populaire was founded in 1942 by René Hamel and Roger Duhamel. It was an anticonscription party… Jean Drapeau eand André Laurendeau were members of the Bloc Populaire.

Claude Jodoin says:

To all of the above writers : I grew up in Outremont in the 40’s and
50’s (Querbes str. X Laurier ave.); at the time, the ‘hood was about
50% French, and 50% Jews. Never, repeat: NEVER, did I see or hear
about a rock fight between French and Jews. There was no problem from
our parents/grand-parents if we went to play with the little Jewish
kids across the street. No problem with their parents either. Still,
when I was in Grade 2, I was beaten up by a big Anglo Grade 7 bully!!
He subsequently was forced to apologize – in tears – by his parents.
A resentment? See below.

The only individual who ever told me “French-Canadians are stupid
farmers”, was an … Israeli Kibbutznik. Of course, he added that
present company (MOI) was excluded. Hmmmm, …. little did he know
that at the time my best friend was an … Israeli Sabrah (yes!)
So, he was an ignorant sort; but maybe he was right, I subsequently
married my – 1st – wife, who was Greek Orthodox. Go figure. My 2nd
wife (20 years) is an Anglo-Saxon.

I think the most important idea coming out here is to take care of
oneself, no matter where the threat comes from. I certainly have no
problem with the JDL stepping in when a Yeshivah or a Synagogue gets
targeted by bullies, of whatever persuasion. Self-defense is a form
of self-respect. As an engineer, I deal in specifics, so here’s a
specific event I witnessed in Montréal in the 60’s : during one of
the earlier ‘separatist’ demonstrations, two HUGE football-player
types from McGill University took exception to the loud rantings of
a diminutive Québécois. They motioned towards him, with threatening
fists, about to strike. The diminutive man did a “one-two” manoeuver,
and landed them both on the ground with bloodied faces. Little did
they know his name was Réginald Chartrand, a Golden Gloves champ /
Olympic Medal winner. The police had to arrest Réginald, as he struck
first. Bottom line: he manifested self-respect, when facing 2 loonies;
enough said.

Michel says:

It has nothing to do with Québec and french-canadian. It is a pattern that we see in Holland, in Sweden, in France, in England and always from the same people.

Muslims and the teaching of their imam and their Coran are to blame for the hatred. First they will start with the jew and after they will turn on christians like their book tell them to do. In the muslim world they are know cleaning up the christian since the jews are gone.

As for the ill advised immigration and refugee policy this is like any other countries – when religion is not taken into account when you let someone in your country…this is what happen because religion matters.

Saying that everybody is nice and the same is deceiving yourself because it has never been true and it wll never be. Time for the states to force a reform of islam or to take harsh measures against peachers of hate.

RBishop says:

I’d say this article was a case of the little boy who cried wolf, except that it follows a deeply depressing pattern of Zionist hand-wringing and catastrophising, designed specifically to cloud all criticism of Jews, and to mobilise anti-Arab hate, in order to conceal the slow-motion genocide of Palestine. “Oy vey, see what kind of people we’re up against ! It’s the same thing in Palestine, only much, much worse !” All the time, the boot is in reality on the other foot. Jewish militaries and paramilitaries slaughter at will in occupied Palestine; Baruch Goldstein is invoked as a saint and a hero; and Western media – jam-cram packed full of vociferous Jewish columnists – never have anything much to say about the daily slaughter, theft of land, denial of medical treatment, apartheid road system in West Bank, shootings of unarmed demonstrators, destruction of villages, uprooting of olive trees, imprisoning of children and of uncharged people, sheer contempt of ‘goyim’ (or of ‘sand n*gg*rs’ as many Jews charmingly refer to Arabs).

Oh brother, take the plank out of your own eye, before you complain of the mote in others’.

Allan Nadler says:

M. Jodoin,

You were at the wrong (or, in this case I suppose, the right) corner. As any student of the Adath Israel Hebrew Scool (Ducharme corner Dollard)from those decades can attest, snowball fights between French Quebecois & Jewish kids were an almost daily ritual. As was some more violent episodes which at times necessitated police escorting the Adath Israel students from Ducharme to Van Horne until they boarded on the 160 or 161 buses to get home safely. In general, as the diversity of memories the comments to my article indicate, a lot depended on how “visibly” Jewish one was. Us boys with the yarmulkas (skullcaps)who attended Jewish parochial schools were frequent targets of animosity and attacks…Jewish kids attending public schools, such as Guy Drummond or Outremont high, were not.


Claude Jodoin says:

Indeed, mister Nadler, seems we were at opposite ends of Outremont.
Be that as it may, of our respective past experiences, those were
the meek “good old days” compared to what we are facing today as a
civilization, call it Judeo-Christian and/or Greco-Roman.

WE are facing adversaries bent on forcing their way on us, or dump
us off the planet. WE need to focus on what we share (e.g. Exodus
and The Ilyad both describe events dating about 3500 years, +/- a
few 100). WE, as a civilization, go back way longer than more recent
invasion-prone ideologies. I agree with every word “Michel” wrote in
his commentary.

The long history of anti-semitism in Quebec is well documented and does not require restatement or amplification – it is an unambiguous, clear and indisputable truth. Books have been written on the subject, and the role of the Catholic church in fermenting this hatred is well chronicled.

The villification of Jews is a worldwide phenomenon. No surprise that it’s existed in Quebec too. And over the years it has been as potent among the blue-blood Anglos in Montreal as it was among the French Canadians.

Going back to the quiet revolution, the insinuations of Jewish complicity in suppressing the French Canadians has been sustained. The matter is of course further complicated by the maniacs of all political stripes who, like the conservative republicans in the U.S., pander to the fanatics and the paranoid who believe, wrongly, that the French language and French culture face “extinction”. The language laws and sign laws, the education and immigration policies — all are ample evidence of the desire of the overly accomodative political leadership in Quebec to curry favor among French Canadians with racist leanings.

It disheartens me terribly. It isn’t the Quebec I believe in or love. It isn’t really the place I grew up in. But then again, the immigration policies of the past governments in Quebec have assured the ultimate transformation of Quebec into a third world state, progressively sublimating the English Language, assuring second-class standing in the international economic community.

Don’t doubt this for a second: The leadership in Quebec can speak out against these gestures of racism. But with a wink and a blink, they are quietly thrilled that these intimidation tactics reinforce for Jews and the English the desire to be elsswhere.

I learned as much from the informative responses as I did from the well written article. Thanks to all from a Midwestern American.

robert kern says:

lets not forget the French Foreign Legion, including many Canadians, fought for the Independence of israel-of course if someone attacks a synagogue, they need therapy.

Pierre Carbonneau says:

Vandalism in the affair of the synagogues may have something to do with the all the bullshit surounding the boycott of israeli shoes at Le Marcheur by PAJU activists…

On Saturday January 22nd, a newcomer appeared on the lines picketing with PAJU: Jean-Roch Villemaire. In the past, he was arrested for vandalism in the Gatineau area, he was acquited, but promised that someday he will do it in a different way…

For those asserting that anti-Israel equals anti-semitic, you simply amplify the Israeli propaganda machine. Whenever Israel finds itself in an untenable position it plays the anti-semite card, just like some commenters above are doing. In the long run, overplaying that card will dilute legitimate claims of anti-semitism. Accept the fact that Israel can do wrong. Defend it on any legitimate basis even when it is wrong if you like, but limit the anti-semite defense to legitimate causes before it loses all meaning.

An Irish Catholic priest that I knew from my college days tells a funny story of saying Mass in an old folks home in a Montreal suburb. He was very surprised to learn after mass that several folk at the back of the room were Jewish – yet were entirely aware of the rubrics of a Catholic Mass. They explained how the city of their youth was dominated by Autocratic Catholic Bishops and how they were only able to attend Elementary School run by the church. Clearly the Church has much responsibility for failing to condemn actions/words of Catholics over many years in the Province.

On the thread of responsibility – can we look now to the parents and elders of the newer immigrants to Quebec. Aside from any sectarian motive that youths may claim for their terrible activities – what is clearly more important is strong sanction and action by city government and the population as a whole to ensure that newly acquired residency/citizenship carries with it responsibility as well as rights.

For those familiar with issues in Western Europe for new immigrants – there is a similar problem of banging on the table about RIGHTS and silence when it comes to responsibility…

Having grown up in Montreal in the 60s and 70s, I can attest to the facts as laid out by Allan and Gary. The historical antisemitism of the Quebecois is indisputable and has continued to our day — remember Jacques Parizeau’s speech after the second separation referendum blaming “money and the ethnic vote” for the loss of the yes side? It seems to me that the recent acts of anti-semitism of the Arab / Muslim immigrants is a different kettle of fish entirely. But Gary is right that the Quebec francophone political class bears the ultimate responsibiity, because through their immigration policies, they have allowed our home province to be overrun by extremist Muslims.

I don’t know how useful it is to have all those memories about PAST québécois antisemitism… Yes it was strong, I know about it as a Québécois, I am ashamed of it and I want to make sure it shall not happen again. NOW, let’s stick to the issue: what is the new antisemitism in 21st century Québec? Sure, some immigrants have a different background and don’t share the same values, and we have to work on it and, let’s face it, what are the numbers of antisemitic crimes in Québec? For Montréal, a town where tens of thousands of Muslims live next to tens of thousands of Jews, I would say it’s not bad? Maybe someone can give me an idea of the figures we’re talking about? I might be wrong, of course…

I am against religious extremism, I believe the main dangers for our open Québéc society are Muslim and Jewish extremists. Don’t get me wrong, but I grew up in Outremont and I don’t like it when people believe they are above the law or that a religious book is more important than the Code Civil & Criminel. Why do some Orthodox Jews think it is ok to build synagogues in residential neighborhood or to have schools who don’t respect the State system? What do I get when I try those funny things by myself?

And no, I will not let people silence me because my ancestors were stupid Catholic extremists. Enough of that rhetoric that first I want to impose them to teach their kids history and sexual education and then the next step would be to… build a concentration camp?

Let’s face it, Québec needs to have an agressive position against religion in the public space: religion has turned the Québécois into sheeps for decades and now it is destroying Montréal’s multiculturalism because it puts people against each other. We need to have strict rules about a religion-free public space. What you then do in your church, synagogue or mosque is your problem…

Ik wil nisht keyn frum shtat! yeah, and I am a Québécois who learns yiddish…

Allan Nadler says:

It seems that my views of contemporary, secular Quebecois society have been misconstrued by several readers, especially Gary and Steve. I tried to draw a clear distinction between the large majority of today’s French Quebecois who are among the most liberal and tolerant people in North American, and the fringe elements of the Muslim community who have been the perpetrators of all the recent attacks against Jewish schools and synagogues. The Quiet Revolution engendered many profound changes in Quebec society, among them a very significantliberalism that brought with it a decrease in anti-Semitism that was fostered by the Catholic Church and old-school Quebec fascists. I am with Andre on this point, although his Yiddish transliteration still needs some work. Ikh vill oykh nisht keyn frum shtot. Vive la laicite Quebecoise !

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Aux Armes

A recent series of anti-Semitic attacks in Montreal hints at a new kind of internationally influenced hate crime in Quebec, a semi-autonomous province with a wave of Muslim immigrants

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