Jewish centre hit by Molotov cocktail, school target of graffiti
Posted November 27, 2023 9:22 am.
Last Updated November 27, 2023 6:12 pm.
Montreal police are investigating after an incendiary object was allegedly thrown against the door of a Jewish community centre early Monday morning, hours after two federal MPs attended a meeting inside the building.
The Jewish Community Council of Montreal said in a statement that its building in the Cote-des-Neiges neighbourhood was hit with a Molotov cocktail shortly after midnight. The incident is the latest in a series of attacks against Montreal’s Jewish community since the war between Israel and Hamas began in October.
“Thank G-d, no one was present, and minimal damages occurred,” wrote Rabi Saul Emanuel, the council’s executive director. The rise in antisemitism in our city is frightening, and the repeated violence and attacks on our community are abhorrent and condemned in the strongest terms.”
Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather and Rachel Bendayan said on X – formerly Twitter – that the incident happened hours after they had met at the centre to discuss a federal program that provides funding and other support for communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes.
“The fear is real and we will be there to support the security of the community,” Bendayan said.
At 12:15 a.m. on Monday, Housefather posted to X a photo of the meeting at the office of the Jewish Community Council.
Montreal police media relations officer Julien Levesque said emergency responders were called at about 1 a.m. after an incendiary device was thrown at the door of a building in Cote-des-Neiges. Levesque says firefighters transferred the investigation to the police’s arson squad, adding that no one was injured and there was only minor damage.
“It’s a continuation of the shocking behaviour of some unknown people at this time. We presume it may be the same people who have done this, an act of hate against the Jewish community. And, this is deliberate, very deliberate. Take a look at the building, you will not see any Jewish insignia, that would indicate that this is a Jewish institution. People have to know that this is a Jewish location. This is a target, a sad target that has been chosen, ” said Henry Topas, the Quebec Regional Director for B’nai Brith Canada.
The SPVM also confirmed that they are investigating vandalism committed at a school in Ville Saint-Laurent.
On Saturday afternoon, the director of the Maïmonide School contacted police after finding graffiti and a poster on the school’s property.
The SPVM has opened an investigation and it will likely be treated as a hate crimes, Levesque said.
The events are the latest in a series of crimes that have left the city’s Jewish community on edge since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
Between October 7 and November 21, 2023, Montreal police say there have been 107 reported hate incidents or crimes against the Jewish community, including 39 crimes on properties. Two other Jewish schools had gunshots fired at them, and a West Island synagogue and Jewish organization were also the targets of Molotov cocktails. 35 hate incidents or crimes were reported from the Arabic-Muslim community.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante promised on Monday that police were working hard to track down the culprits of the two most recent incidents against the Jewish community, and reiterated her support for a community that is “once again plunged into worry.”
“Montreal is a city of peace and inclusion,” she wrote on X. “It must remain so and we’ll make sure of it.”
Emanuel said members of the Jewish community have been calling for more funding to increase security in the wake of the deadly Hamas attack on Oct. 7. “We reiterate our belief that more funding is needed,” he said Monday.
“I have been in contact with the SPVM and the community constantly, and the SPVM does seem to be doing a good job in terms of communicating with the community and making sure that their security needs are being met. But as we see, this is the fifth incident in three weeks, and clearly there is a lack when it comes to security,” said Elisabeth Prass, the MNA with the Quebec Liberal Party for the D’Arcy-McGee riding.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2023.