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Montreal Anti-Racism Commissioner Tells B’nai Brith She Will No Longer Attend Anti-Israel Rallies

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Montreal’s anti-racism commissioner, Bochra Manaï (Radio-Canada)

November 29, 2023

MONTREAL – After a meeting Tuesday with B’nai Brith Canada, Montreal’s Commissioner to Fight Racism and Systemic Discrimination has agreed to never attend another anti-Israel rally while holding public office.

Bochra Manaï came under fire recently for failing to speak out against antisemitism spilling over from Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 attacks on Southern Israel. She continues to stay silent even as Jewish institutions are repeatedly facing threats and vandalism – including two separate shootings at Jewish schools, as well as three fire-bombings on two occasions, in Cote St. Luc and the suburb of Dollard-Des-Ormeaux.

She has also participated in at least one anti-Israel rally and shared content on social media associated with organizations that have defended the terrorist group Hamas. According to Le Devoir, Manaï participated in an Oct. 28 rally in Montreal during which radical Imam Adil Charkaoui prayed for “Allah to exterminate the Zionists.” Manaï explicitly failed to publicly condemn these heinous remarks even as other officials, including Premier Francois Legault, vociferously denounced them.

B’nai Brith has discovered flags bearing symbols associated with Hamas, as well as other listed terrorist entities, at similar demonstrations across the country. Such anti-Israel hatefests also tend to feature genocidal chants, most commonly “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free” – a dangerous slogan that calls for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their ancestral homeland.

In this context, B’nai Brith welcomed Manaï’s commitment, as anti-racism commissioner, to never attend such hateful demonstrations again. But Manaï was also asked to apologize for her past conduct. While it is disappointing that she did not apologize, she said she would “listen” to the Jewish community and other vulnerable groups in the future. B’nai Brith presented her our 2022 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in Canada – which she admitted to never seeing before, despite having held her position since 2021.

“Her attitude thus far has been unacceptable, as well as unbecoming of someone in her role,” said Henry Topas, B’nai Brith Canada’s Quebec Regional Director. “The anti-racism commissioner carries significant moral authority and is supposed to be above politics. It is supposed to be a voice for unity and peace, not division and endorsement of violence, even if by silence.”

In light of an exponential rise in crimes targeting Montreal’s Jewish community – including five violent attacks – since Oct. 7, B’nai Brith also used Tuesday’s meeting to urge the mayor’s office to endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. This standard has already been adopted in the United States, the European Union, as well as several Canadian provinces and cities. Implementing it in Montreal would be a key step for B’nai Brith to overlook Manaï’s past transgressions.

“We appreciate Manaï’s willingness to meet us at our regional office to try to make amends,” Topas said. “We are also pleased that she has committed not to attend any further anti-Israel rallies, but the damage has been done. While an apology would have been appreciated, she can best support the Jewish community at this point by personally pushing for the City of Montreal to adopt IHRA.”