Montreal’s Jewish Community is under attack.
In three days, and three Jewish places have been bombed with homemade Molotov cocktails. Although there have been very minimal damage and no injuries, pilule the attackers have become bolder, online attacking open restaurants and occupied homes.
The police have no idea why there has been a sudden rash of attacks on Jews. Bill613.com, a religious Jewish website, has suggested that the attacks are related to the increase in racial tensions caused by the Parti Quebecois Government’s recent actions or the recent release of Omar Bulphred, a man convicted of bombing the Sver Yeshiva and the attempted bombing of the YMYWHA.
While Bulphred’s release would be a convenient explanation and racial tensions pushed by the PQ Government would tie the case up in a bow, I don’t think either have anything to do with these attacks.
When Chops Restaurant was bombed in October 2012, the community and police wrote it off as a random arson attack on a kosher restaurant, totally ignoring the fact that just a few months before, Chez Benny, another kosher restaurant just up the street from Chops was attacked (its windows were broken).
Chops was attacked again in January and the community and police wrote it off again as a random arson attack, even though it was the second attack on the same restaurant. Chops was forced to install a steel gate to cover its windows and doors.
This past weekend proves that the previous attacks were not so random. On Friday, Le Shalom, just down the street from Chops and Benny’s was hit by a Molotov cocktail. On Saturday, a home in Cote St Luc, a city with an 89% Jewish population was hit by another Molotov cocktail and then in the early hours of Sunday morning Chops was hit again, this time while the restaurant was open with approximately 30 staff and customers inside.
The new boldness of the attackers should worry the community. While any attack on a Jewish establishment is worrisome, attacks on occupied Jewish residents and open restaurants is an attempt to hurt, maim or kill Jews. This attempted murder of Jewish community members should have outraged our Jewish leaders.
Instead, Federation’s Center for Jewish and Israel Affairs tweeted that the most recent attack on Chops was “not hate crime related”. A claim that’s hard to believe when the pattern is clearly laid out.
While it is understandable that Federation and its agencies don’t want to scare the Jewish community, one has to wonder how much sugar coating is acceptable when human lives hang in the balance. Should the Jewish community be more vigilant? Should some action be taken? Should Jews gather in restaurants, synagogues and community centers? These are all legitimate questions being asked by the community and questions being ignored by a Federation that thinks the community is made of children who will huddle in the corner and cry if they feel there’s a threat against them.
While the official Jewish community has a responsibility to protect the Jews of this city, they also have an obligation to be honest with them.
The recent spat of attacks on Jewish establishments shows a clear patterned attack on the community, three places in three days takes randomness out of the equation.
What could the community do? Be vigilant, look out your windows, watch your neighborhoods and report anything suspicious. If we all keep our eyes open and watch carefully, the attackers will be caught quickly. If we follow Federation’s lead and pretend that our community is not being targeted and that these attacks are “not hate related”, then the attacks, which have already gotten bold, will get bolder and bolder and perhaps G-d forbid, cause injury and death.
By Howie Silbiger – Publisher of The Montreal Jewish News