Photo Credit: Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs-Quebec / X
Gunfire damaged the door at the Montreal Young Israel synagogue, housing the Belz Yeshiva Ketana, May 27, 2024

A Montreal yeshiva housed in a synagogue was targeted with gunfire early Tuesday morning.

An unidentified suspect fired four bullets at 3:35 am through the front door at the Belz Yeshiva Ketana, housed in the same building as the Young Israel synagogue. The building was damaged but there were no physical injuries, police said.

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Surveillance camera footage showed the gunman, but not his vehicle; he had parked at a distance from the building. The suspect is still at large.

Federation CJA (Center for Jewish Affairs) President and CEO Yair Szlak issued a joint statement with CIJA-Quebec (Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs) Vice President Eta Yudin, saying enough is enough.

“We have had enough. Yet another Jewish school was shot at in the middle of the night in Canada,” the two Jewish leaders wrote in a statement on the X social media platform.

“Thankfully no one was inside the building, but this violent hatred must no longer be tolerated. Decisive action must be taken by Mayor Plante and leadership at the municipal level to finally put an end to the atmosphere of permissiveness towards antisemitism that is now rampant in our city.

“Mayor Plante referred to Montreal as this “peaceful town”, but this is not the Montreal anyone wants to live in,” the two leaders declared.

We call on all citizens of good faith to raise their voices against the relentless hatred, intimidation, and fear mongering on our streets and campuses over a conflict that is taking place thousands of miles away; it must be stopped. Order must be returned to the streets of Montreal.”

Antisemitic Attacks in Toronto
Earlier this week, shots were fired at at Bais Chaya Mushka, a Chabad-Lubavitch girls’ school serving Jewish girls in the Greater Toronto Area. The suspects fired at the school from a dark-coloured vehicle just before 5 am, according to Insp. Paul Krawczyk of the Toronto police guns and gangs task force. The front of the school was damaged.

The Toronto police hate crimes unit is working together with the guns and gangs task force on the case.

On Friday May 17, the Kehillat Shaarei Torah Synagogue in the North York section of Toronto was attacked. Windows and glass doors were smashed at around 3 am in the May 17 attack; the synagogue was targeted with similar vandalism in late April.

Toronto police said its hate crimes unit is investigating.

Antisemitism in Montreal
On November 12, an attacker opened fire at around 5 am at the Yeshiva Gedolah of Montreal, located in Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, the same neighborhood as the Belz Yeshiva Ketana. Three days earlier, on November 9, the same yeshiva was targeted with gunfire, as was the nearby United Talmud Torahs of Montreal.

Around the same time, Montreal’s Congregation Beth Tikvah synagogue was firebombed. The Jewish Federation CJA (Montreal Jewish Community Center), across from the synagogue, was similarly targeted.

On May 23, police arrested 20-year-old Abdirazak Mahdi Ahmed, a resident of Les Cèdres in connection with the November 12 shooting, Quebec’s Crown prosecution office confirmed. Ahmed was charged with intentionally discharging a firearm, theft, and receiving stolen vehicles, and committing mischief.

Antisemitism is skyrocketing across the entire country, as seen in data reported by Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents from B’nai Brith Canada released earlier this month.

Antisemitism Skyrocketing Across Canada
Since January 1, 2024, 84 hate crimes have been reported in Toronto alone, with 56 percent classified as antisemitic hate crimes.

Since the start of the October 7 war launched against Israel by Gaza’s Hamas terror organization, Toronto has seen a 93 percent rise in the number of reported hate crimes, Police Chief Myron Demkiw told the Toronto Police Services Board in March.

Although the average number of hate crime-related calls is about 157, police received 989 calls on hate crimes within the 163-day period. Of those, 203 were confirmed hate crimes, resulting in 69 arrests and 173 charges.

In Canada a total of 5,791 incidents, including 77 violent incidents — an average of nearly 16 daily — were reported in 2023, according to the Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents from B’nai Brith Canada released earlier this month.

The figure is more than double the 2,769 incidents reported in 2022.

There were 77 violent incidents reported — more than triple the number in 2022. Online harassment accounted for the vast majority with 4,847 instances: vandalism, 462 incidents; and in-person harassment, 405 incidents.

Antisemitic violence included firebomb attacks and shootings directed at synagogues, Jewish schools and community centers.

The majority of incidents (41.5 percent) were in Ontario, home Toronto and nearly half of Canada’s Jewish community, with 2,401 incidents reported.

Quebec, where Montreal is located, accounted for nine percent of all incidents, with 523 antisemitic attacks reported.

Muslim Population Growing Rapidly in Canada; Jews Outnumbered
The Jewish community in Canada is the fourth-largest in the world, with some 390,000 Jews living in the country.

But that’s a drop in the bucket when compared to the rapidly-growing Muslim population in Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, Islam was the second-most commonly reported religion in Canada in 2021, with nearly 1.8 million, or 1 in 20, people identifying as Muslim.

In the last 20 years, the Muslim population in Canada has more than doubled — up from 2.0 per cent in 2001 to 4.9 per cent in 2021.

“In 2023, we entered a period of crisis,” Richard Robertson, the director of research for B’nai Brith Canada, warned.

“On average, a Jewish Canadian was threatened or assaulted every fourth day in 2023. These figures are horrifying and warrant an immediate action in response from all societal stakeholders, both governmental and non governmental.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.