Canadian Jewish Community Shocked over anti-Semitic School, Synagogue Attacks

(AFP) – Many within the majority-Jewish Canadian city of Hampstead anxious in regards to the potential for unrest tied to the Israel-Hamas struggle, however residents of the small Quebec neighborhood have been startled by the size of the outbreak of anti-Semitic incidents in current weeks.

Lorne W., who most popular to not give his final identify, instructed AFP he’s “very, very, very much” involved in regards to the sudden uptick in hate directed on the province’s Jewish neighborhood, which is without doubt one of the oldest and most populous in Canada.

“Myself and my neighbors, we’re very cautious and we’re very hyperaware of what’s going on in the streets. It makes us nervous,” he mentioned.

The Middle East is sort of 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) away from Hampstead, a Montreal suburb, however the struggle raging in Gaza has been ever-present on minds right here since Hamas’s shock October 7 assault and Israel’s livid response.

And the dismay has been even more durable to flee since a surge of anti-Semitic assaults that final week noticed two Jewish colleges in Montreal’s Cote-des-Neiges neighborhood focused at evening by gunfire — twice in a single case — and a synagogue firebombed just a few days earlier within the suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux.

Jeremy Levi, mayor of Hampstead, a small municipality on the island of Montreal, poses for a photograph in his metropolis corridor workplace in Hampstead, Quebec, Canada, on November 14, 2023. They had feared it, however have been nonetheless stunned by the size: within the city of Hampstead, populated primarily by Canadians of the Jewish religion, the inhabitants have been appalled and anxious in regards to the outbreak of anti-Semitic acts. (ALEXIS AUBIN/AFP through Getty) 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday referred to as such assaults “absolutely unacceptable.”

“The terrifying acts of anti-Semitic violence in Montreal need to stop. No parent should ever have to tell their child that their school was shot at. No rabbi should have to explain to their congregation that their synagogue was attacked,” he mentioned.

For Diana Singal, a Hampstead resident out strolling her canine, “it is scary. I might think of avoiding some Jewish institutions, because there might be some people that will just lash out.”

She mentioned members of her household had perished in Nazi demise camps throughout World War II. “I thought we lived in a different world today.”

The tumult has come as Israel vows to destroy Hamas in response to its assaults final month, which Israel has mentioned killed 1,200 folks, largely civilians.

Gaza’s Hamas-run territory’s well being ministry says Israel’s ensuing aerial bombardment and floor offensive have killed 11,500 folks, largely civilians and together with hundreds of kids.

Flag at half-mast

The streets of Hampstead, an upscale English-speaking municipality of 8,000 — 75 % of whom recognized as Jewish within the final census, which was in 2021 — are plastered with posters of the 240 hostages kidnapped by Hamas.

The city corridor is flying the Israeli flag at half-mast.

“We had requests from various organizations and residents in general, to put up posters of the Israeli hostages. And we definitely wanted to comply with these requests,” Hampstead mayor Jeremy Levi instructed AFP.

Tuesday night, Hampstead additionally voted to introduce a effective of 1,000 Canadian {dollars} for anybody tearing down posters, notably these of Hamas hostages. The effective is doubled for repeat offenses.

Many locals have discovered consolation in gathering collectively, and the city’s three synagogues have overflowed on current Saturdays.

“It is surprising” to see such aggressive acts in Canada, native rabbi Moishe New mentioned. “We didn’t expect it.”

Rabbi New, Rabbi of certainly one of Hampstead’s three largest synagogues, contained in the Synagogue: Montreal Torah Center in Hampstead, Quebec, Canada, on November 14, 2023. (ALEXIS AUBIN/AFP through Getty Images)

Yair Szlak, Federation CJA president, poses for a photograph within the Montreal Holocaust Museum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on November 14, 2023. (ALEXIS AUBIN/AFP through Getty Images)

Montreal police counted extra anti-Semitic acts up to now month than in all of 2022. The similar development has been noticed elsewhere on the planet, together with in a number of European nations.

“We haven’t seen this level of anti-Semitism in Montreal, ever,” mentioned Levi.

“It’s unfortunate,” he mentioned, “And, there’s nothing being done about it.”

“The time for words is over. We need to see action before things get out of control,” he added, decrying weak statements in opposition to anti-Semitism by politicians and a stepped-up police presence that Levi mentioned has fallen in need of expectations.

“There is a conflict in the Middle East,” commented Yair Szlak, head of the Federation CJA, certainly one of Canada’s oldest Jewish organizations.

“We’re all mourning. We’re all hurt by it. We’re all suffering from it. But it doesn’t belong in the streets of Montreal.”


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