Sentence for teen who burned Israeli flags outside Montreal school too lenient: Jewish community

By News Staff

Leaders in Canada’s Jewish community feel the sentence handed down to a Montreal teenager who burned Israeli flags outside a West Island school last month was too lenient.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Federation CJA say the one-year probation sentence is not a strong enough disincentive for those wanting to commit hate crimes.

BACKGROUND: Montreal police hate crimes unit arrest 16-year-old after Israeli flags stolen, set on fire in DDO

A 16-year-old pleaded guilty to arson Monday after the theft and burning of Isreali flags outside the Hebrew Foundation School, a Jewish school in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, on April 26.

The probation means the teenager is not allowed to post about Israel or the school on social media, and must maintain a distance of 200 metres from the school. He’s also required to apologize in writing to the school.

“While we appreciate the sentence’s conditions protecting the Jewish community, the one-year probation does little to deter others from committing hateful acts and nothing to educate the individual about the harm of his actions,” said Eta Yudin, the Quebec vice-president of CIJA, calling it an act of anti-Semitism.

“The circumstances of this crime, including where it took place, warranted a judicial response that made clear the scope and impact of the incident.”

A video circulating on social media showed someone removing Israeli flags from the fence of the Hebrew Foundation School before setting them on fire.

WATCH: Teen arrested for burning Israeli flags outside Montreal school

It happened on a day when many schools were marking Israeli Independence Day.

In the immediate aftermath, the SPVM and DDO security personnel increased their presence around the school, and Federation CJA volunteers were deployed around Jewish institutions across Montreal.

Canada’s Jewish community is expressing concern the sentence did not understand the “hateful motivation” behind the teen’s actions “nor the magnitude of the incident’s impact on the community.”

“(The) sentence should have sent a loud and clear message that acts of anti-Semitism are motivated by hate and the courts will respond accordingly,” said Yair Szlak, the president and CEO of Federation CJA.

“Targeting of local Jewish institutions by those pushing an anti-Israel agenda is not acceptable. Schools are meant to be safe places for our children to learn and should never be used to showcase hate or to import a foreign conflict.”

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