Anti-Semitism in Montreal Belies Greater Issue

Published: May 5th 2010
in News » Local

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Members of Montreal’s visible Lubavitch community who live in the Côte des Neiges district of Montreal are afraid to go out of their homes, even during broad daylight, in the wake of several recently reported acts of violence, the Jewish Tribune reported.


Similarly, three locations in the Outremont region of Montreal, an area with a high density Chassidic population, found swastikas painted on various properties the other week.


“I live in the area and if I compare the situation now to five years ago there is a serious problem,” Rabbi Mendel Marasow, executive director of Beth Rivkah Academy in Côte des Neiges, told the Jewish Tribune.


“There is a gang atmosphere, with tough individuals walking the streets. Last week a man got mugged walking home from shul at 8:30 in the morning. It is uncomfortable and unsafe out there. Is it anti-Semitic? Listen, all I can say is that Jews make good targets.”


An e-mail from the organization Anshei Lubavitch, which has received numerous responses over several days, charges that Montreal police have been “passive” in reacting to several localized incidents, most recently the robbery of a 12-year-old boy.


“Were it not for a few volunteers that followed the perpetrators this would have been just another complaint to our police department, Station 26, which would have been swept under the rug,” the e-mail says.


Other crimes are also said to have taken place, including the breaking of windows of six Jewish homes “without any arrests being made,” the glass doors of a study being shattered and the mugging of a pregnant Jewish woman in Vezina Park, Montreal.


Interestingly, however, there are different perspectives on the situation.


“I don’t think that we should exaggerate what has gone on recently,”  Adam Atlas, President of the Quebec Jewish Congress told Shalom Life. “There have been some instances, but we are not alarmed. We are concerned on a broader level with the climate of Quebec society as a whole right now.”


According to Atlas, Quebec is engaged in a sort of self-examination these days, regarding the relationship between the majority French speaking Catholic population, and the various ethnic groups that now constitute an important part of society.


“We as Jews don’t consider ourselves newcomers to the province,” explains Atlas.  “We have 250 years of Jewish history in Montreal, and we consider ourselves Quebecers like everyone else. “


“We also think it’s important,” he says, “that our politicians take the high road in this debate, and find ways to see the value in the richness of our diversity, rather than asking minorities to jump through hoops for the province as a whole.”


The debate to which Atlas is referring is concerned with the term “reasonable accommodation,” which, according to Atlas, presupposes two classes of citizens: one that wants to be accommodated, and the other that is doing the accommodating.


“This, of course, is not a healthy way to look at citizenship,” he says. “So we are speaking out along those lines, in all of our interactions with the media and politicians, as the Quebec Jewish Congress.”


Related articles: (Montreal, anti-semitism, quebec jewish congress, atlas, quebec, neiges, outremont)
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