The United Talmud Torah School in Montreal was attacked on Monday April 5, 2004.
Talmud Torah is a Jewish parochial school which teaches both a secular and a religious curriculum. It is also well known for graduating students who excel in post graduate studies in secular secondary and university institutions.
Talmud Torah students are not amongst the ultra-orthodox Hasidic sects who draw attention to themselves by being visibly different, and totally separate from mainstream society, Jewish or otherwise.
Talmud Torah students represent the kids next door. They ARE the kids next door. Just like all young people, they care about fashion, music, movies, video games, sports and getting together.
So, when their school was firebombed, just because it happens to be a Jewish oriented school, it should be big news. Especially when it happens in Canada’s second largest city.
I was watching cable CTV News at noon while having lunch, when I first heard of this monstrous act. But there wasn’t a great deal of coverage, except for some video that showed the destruction, along with a statement that said: No one was harmed in the attack, because the children had the day off due to tonight’s first of two Passover Seders.
I couldn’t believe the scant coverage. But, because it was a breaking story, and I caught it in the middle of their news-wheel, I figured they would have much more in-depth coverage during the half-hour.
So here is how CTV introduced their new news-wheel:
“Here are the top stories we are following: US Helicopter gun-ships raid in Iraq. Snowbird pilots not getting new stunt jets. Watching television could cause ADD in children. The seeing-eye dog and its master who survived 9/11 in one of the Twin Towers”.
And that was it.
There was no mention whatsoever of what was for all practicality a TERRORIST attack on a Jewish school on the morning of Passover in Montreal.
What does this say about Canada’s news media when issues which are thousands of miles from our shores take precedence over a TERRORIST attack at home?
It can, and it will be argued that this firebombing of Talmud Torah, although reprehensible, was after-all more of a racist hate-crime than a TERRORIST attack. That could be said. But that argument would be specious at best.
This was a TERRORIST attack against a visible Canadian Jewish institution in the heart of a Jewish community, in a city with a substantial number of Jews (around 80,000), in a country that supports Arabs and denounces Israel.
I am very saddened by two issues.
I am saddened that someone perpetrated this horrific crime in a city where many cultures seem to have no problem living together. And I am deeply saddened that CTV thought outdated stunt aircraft and ADD was more important than a violent and physical attack against Jews in Canada.
This says a great deal about the safety of Jews in Canada. And even more about our major media.
It is appropriate that this happened on the morning of Passover eve, since it will remind Jews (myself included) just how much has not changed since Moses led the Jewish people to safety from the land of oppression.
For Jews, it seems that as soon as we begin to forget about our history, and begin to feel secure and a part of where we live: something horrible reminds us, that no matter where we live, everyday is Passover.