A Quebec man was attacked and beaten with a stick after he refused to surrender his Israeli flag after an Israeli Independence Day rally in Westmount on Thursday.
"Give us the flag," the attackers, in their late teens or early twenties, had demanded of the victim in French, eyewitness Dan Goldstein told The Jerusalem Post.
In a video filmed by Goldstein and his wife Liat Lev-Ary Goldstein, the youth struggled to pull the flag out of the hands of the victim and when they were unable to tear it from his grip, they struck him in the head from behind with a stick.
A passerby tried to drive off the attackers but was also struck repeatedly with the weapon.
Goldstein was looking out the window from his office to see if he could spot his daughter, who attends a nearby school. He said that they wave at each other when they see each other, which is the highlight of his day — But on Thursday, he spotted a violent crime instead.
"All of a sudden I realized they're assaulting this man," said Goldstein. While he didn't see what the victim was holding at first, "I realized very quickly it was an Israeli flag."
Goldstein told The Post that there was a rally not far from the scene of the crime. He began filming because he knew that it would aid police investigation — Liat had served in the Israeli police and Dan in the Israeli army. Dan handed the phone to Liat and darted down to the scene of the crime.
"They're assaulting this man, call the police!" Goldstein said he shouted as he approached the site of the assault.
Goldstein said he gave chase to the attackers, but returned to aid the victim. It was then that Goldstein discovered that he knew the victim — A friend with whom he had drifted apart from. Goldstein hugged the victim and brought him to the office. They administered first aid to the bleeding man and called the police.
The Montreal Police hate crimes unit is investigating the attack as a hate crime, The Suburban reported.
"You found a random person on the street and assaulted him with so much hate," the wife of the victim shared through Goldstein's Facebook page. "I only wish that one day you will understand that the only way for us all to live in a safe world is to accept others, to let them live their life as well as they let you live yours, and to let hate go."
"When Montrealers of good faith, members of the Jewish community gathered in celebration, it is upsetting that individuals would choose to engage in an act of aggression," said The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Quebec Vice President Eta Yudin. "Our message is loud and clear: Acts of hate, antisemitism and violence have no place on our streets."
"What bothers me to the core of my being is that no one did anything," said Lev-Ary Goldstein. She explained that one doesn't need training to help and that everyone needs to be ready to help other people regardless of faith or skin color, and regardless of the scenario.
Goldstein denounced attempts to politicize the incident by casting blame on the Montreal mayor — even though the attack was beyond Montreal's municipal boundaries.
Initial reports on social media portrayed the victim as a Holocaust survivor, which Goldstein says was incorrect.
"We are now learning that the victim might not be a Holocaust survivor. We apologize for the error," wrote the NGO StopAntisemitism.
Goldstein said in response to the viral false information that "For me, it is very frustrating to see something like that..it doesn't do anybody any type of service." He said that embellishment could be used by malicious actors to discredit the importance of the actual antisemitic incident.