Synagogue vandalized religious items were thrown on the floor and swastikas were scrawled on the podium

Rash of antisemitic incidents hit Montreal, Toronto

Jewish Tribune

Written by Atara Beck
Wednesday, 24 March 2010

TORONTO-MONTREAL-CALGARY – Within the space of a week and a half, multiple antisemitic incidents were reported in Montreal; Toronto pedestrians were attacked, and an arrest was made in Calgary in connection with a slew of racist graffiti that occurred last November.

Last weekend, chassidic worshippers at Montreal’s Ahavas Yisroel Viznitz synagogue in Outremont found it had been vandalized overnight. Lockers were overturned, religious items were thrown on the floor and swastikas were scrawled on the podium. Police are treating the incident as a hate crime.

Meanwhile, in the last week, in the Montreal suburb of Cote St. Luc, which boasts a large Jewish population, antisemitic graffiti was scrawled at a bus stop, on a Canada Post box, on a Montreal Gazette box and in a park.

B’nai Brith Canada’s Quebec region has received many calls on its anti-hate hotline from people who saw the large and eye-catching graffiti – much of it in red – on their way to work.

“We urge police to conduct a thorough investigation to find and prosecute whoever is responsible,” stated Montreal-based Allan Adel, national chair, B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights. “B’nai Brith advocates zero tolerance for any dissemination of hate. Victims of antisemitism are urged to report incidents to the League for Human Rights team of professionals 24/7 at 1-800-892-BNAI.”

Commander Sylvain Bissonnette of Station 9 in Cote St. Luc told the Jewish Tribune that the events of that day are being investigated as a hate crime. “It’s almost always a hate crime,” he said, adding that this is his fourth year as commander in the area and “it’s not the first time we have this kind of graffiti.” It happens about once a year, typically in the Jewish neighbourhoods of Cote St. Luc and Hampstead, he said. “It’s always the same kind of paint, usually a red swastika. There is no pattern, no specific moment in the year.”

He said police have been working together with B’nai Brith and they urge the public to cooperate and provide any information they might have; however, “on the other side of the coin, it usually happens during the night and there are usually no fingerprints,” Bissonnette said.

“It’s a localized problem. We want to make sure it doesn’t go across the board. The Jewish community in Cote St. Luc is very large. This time it was localized on one or two streets. I’ve seen other cases where it literally goes from one city limit to another.”

In Toronto, also last week, visibly Jewish pedestrians in the heavily Jewish area of Bathurst Street and Lawrence Avenue reported being pelted by eggs in late afternoon. Detective Gary McQueen of Toronto Police Service confirmed that the incident is under investigation and is being treated as a hate crime. The victims did not catch the license plate numbers but gave a good description of the cars, he said.

As for Calgary, “we don’t tolerate hate crimes. It’s as simple as that,” Police Chief Rick Hanson declared on CBC News regarding the arrest of an 18-year-old male. The accused is facing charges of mischief and incitement of hatred, and according to the police, he is suspected of having connections with racist groups. His name has been withheld because he was only 17 at the time of the incident last November.

Swastikas and other anti-Jewish graffiti had been found at the Calgary Jewish Centre, including on a memorial for Holocaust survivors, and Congregation House of Jacob Mikveh Israel – both in Pump Hill – and at the Chabad centre in Woodbine-Woodlands. Homes, bus stop benches, fences and mailboxes in the Calgary Jewish neighbourhood were also hit, and phrases included “F**K You Kike” and “Six Million More.” Hanson expressed appreciation to the attorney general in approving the hate crime charges.

B’nai Brith Canada and Canadian Jewish Congress commended the Calgary Police Service for their professionalism and diligence.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 March 2010 )

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