Vandals strike at Montreal Jewish institutions

Local pols buck boycott of Israel – and buy shoes.

window smashed (photo credit: David Wilder)
window smashed
(photo credit: David Wilder)
There were a number of attacks against Jewish institutions in Montreal sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, local media reported on Sunday.
Vandals reportedly smashed the windows of three synagogues, a Jewish day school, and a Jewish daycare center in the Côte-St-Luc and Hampstead neighborhoods. Local authorities said that there might be a connection between the attacks and that they may have been perpetrated by the same person or group of people.
“We are treating these acts of vandalism as one misdeed,” Montreal Police officer Yannick Paradis told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “There have been no arrests made and we do not yet have any suspects.”
The Beth Rambam, Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem and Dorshei Emet synagogues and the Beth Zion synagogue and daycare center and the Yavne Academy were all targeted by vandals who threw rocks at their windows, smashing several and causing thousands of dollars in damages, Rabbi Reuben Poupko told the Post.
Poupko, who is chairman of the Jewish Community Security Coordinating Committee, said that despite what looked to be “an organized and systematic attack on Jewish institutional life,” the Jewish community in Montreal is “very cautious on what we label anti-Semitism.
“It’s eminently reasonable to assume these may have been anti-Semitic acts, given that five buildings were attacked in one night, but we are careful because, in this city, public institutions are vandalized all the time. The most attacks, in fact, are on churches,” he added.
Paradis noted that there were no notes or messages to the Jewish community in any of the attacks.
“At this stage, it’s simply rocks thrown at windows,” the police officer said.
Poupko said that the community was working with police on the investigation and provided security footage, where available.
In recent years, Montreal has seen an increase in attacks on its Jewish institutions.
Several Jewish schools and community centers have been vandalized, firebombed and even burned.
Over the High Holy Days last September, three institutions were attacked including Beth Rambam. But the most serious incident was the April 2004 burning of the Talmud Torah elementary school library in Ville St-Laurent, where perpetrators left a note saying the act was in response to Israel’s targeted assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza a month earlier.
“In this incident and others, police apprehended the attackers, who were prosecuted and are now sitting in jail, so there have been successes,” Poupko said.
The community has put in requests to the police for increased patrols of Jewish areas, Poupko said, adding that in conversations with provincial and federal political leaders, assurances have been forthcoming.
“We understand the world we live in,” he said. “It’s painful to see rising anti-Israel sentiment in this city and we know that it is in the international context of the phenomenon.”
On Saturday, several politicians converged at a Saint- Denis Street store to show support for its beleagured owner by buying Israeli-made shoes.
According to the Gazette, a Montreal-based human rights group has held regular pickets outside Le Marcheur since the fall because its sells BeautiFeel brand shoes, which are made in Rishon Lezion and Haifa.
Marlene Jennings, the Liberal MP for Notre Dame de Grâce-Lachine, told the Gazette she had a “gorgeous” new pair of the Israeli-made shoes.
“I showed up to show my support for the Archambault family,” she said, referring to the store’s owners.
“The boycott that is happening is actually anti-democratic and it actually fuels and supports anti-democratic movements,” Jennings said.
“Israel is a democracy. The shoes that are being sold are being produced legally in Israel, imported into Canada legally and being sold at Le Marcheur legally.”
Yves Archambault, the store’s owner, said he was very pleased with the support on Saturday. However, he told the Gazette that he wants the Quebec government to stop the boycott.
“There is no one who will tell me what I will sell in my store,” Archambault said.