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B’nai Brith Alarmed as Radicals Target Canadian Synagogues

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March 3, 2024

THORNHILL, Ont. – Following a disturbing demonstration Sunday targeting the AISH Community Shul north of Toronto, B’nai Brith Canada is urging police across the country to prevent similar planned protests from taking place at other Jewish institutions.

B’nai Brith has learned that anti-Israel protesters intend to cause disturbances at synagogues in Montreal and Thornhill, Ont. this Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

A disorderly crowd of radicals already caused havoc in Thornhill Sunday. They confronted members of the Jewish community at AISH as the shul was hosting a discussion about Israeli real estate. Participants engaged in chanting genocidal slogans such as “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free,” an odious call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their ancestral homeland. Some chants also included the term “intifada,” glorifying violence against Israeli civilians.

“Nothing justifies targeting a house of worship,” said Richard Robertson, B’nai Brith Canada’s Director of Research and Advocacy. “To target a shul is antisemitic and can never be tolerated in Canadian society.”

On Mar. 5, in the Montreal suburb of Snowdon, radicals intend to disrupt the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, which houses the country’s oldest Jewish congregation. The Thornhill protest scheduled for Thursday, Mar. 7, will target the BAYT shul, a prominent Orthodox synagogue. Both neighbourhoods are home to large Jewish populations.

“It is not far-fetched to suggest that these protests constitute a legitimate threat to public safety,” Robertson said. “Canadian police forces must take proactive measures to deter radicals from organizing protest that are not only shameful, antisemitic acts, but that pose a legitimate threat to the wellbeing of the public.”

Antisemitism has increased at an unprecedented rate in Canada since Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attacks on Israel. After weeks of similar disturbances in January at the Avenue Road Overpass, which is in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Toronto, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) intervened to prevent future protests, at the urging of B’nai Brith, due to the threat the demonstrations posed to public safety.

“Members of the Jewish community rightfully fear that their synagogues could become the sites of regular, hostile demonstrations, similar to the Avenue Road Overpass,” Robertson warned. “Today’s debauchery cannot become a precedent for other radicals to follow in Thornhill, Montreal, or anywhere else.

“We thank the police for doing their best today [Sunday] in Thornhill and call upon all Canadian police forces to protect the sanctity of Jewish houses of worship, and to ensure the well being of members of the Jewish community, before the situation grows even more chaotic.”