Pre Holocaust Thinking In Montreal

History teaches some people nothing. And to Jewish Montrealers, obviously nothing at all.

The other night, I was sickened to watch (on television news) a slightly built 16 year old Chasidic boy, get punched to the ground by a much larger 20 something year old man.

This happened in Montreal on a street where Chasidim live within their own “ghetto”, alongside French Quebecers. The assailant, who was French, attacked the young boy with a vicious punch to his head.

All of this was caught on tape by a security camera.

What we saw was a young boy dressed in the Chasidic garb looking over his shoulder at an approaching person. The Chasidic kid looked frightened. Then, from virtually nowhere, came a vicious punch to the Chasidic kid’s head, which sent him crashing to the pavement.

The nauseating view of this brought images of Nazi Europe to mind, as Jew-haters of all stripe participated in an orgy of beating-up on Jews in full public view. Most often to cheering crowds.

The French Quebecois Jew-beater was arrested, but will not be charged with a hate crime. After all, according to his interpretation of events, he was only going after someone whom he thought was flirting with his girlfriend. What kind of a schmuck would believe that?

On the second Seder of Passover this past year, two Moslem thugs attempted to firebomb a Montreal Jewish community center. They were caught, and just like the aforementioned Jew-beater, they too will not be charged with a hate crime.

A couple of years ago, a Montreal Jewish school was firebombed, leaving its library totally destroyed. The assailants were caught, and they too were not charged with a hate crime.

When I was 18 years old, this type of circumstance was rampant in Montreal Jewish areas, predominantly in the Snowdon and Cote des Neiges communities where Jewish kids were routinely attacked, and their attackers never brought to task by Montreal’s police department.

When the Jewish community made complaints, Montreal’s police would simply say: “C’est pas une grande chose” (it’s no big deal).

But having kids scared to go to and from school, or walk to the park in the light of day or darkness of evening because they were Jewish was a big deal.

The Jewish community of Montreal did what they always did (still do) best. THEY TALKED.

They talked amongst themselves. They talked at Synagogues. They talked on open line radio shows. They talked to their politicians. And they talked to the police. But that’s it. They talked!

But the beatings and intimidation didn’t stop.

And then one day, a group of tough (and not so tough), but very determined Jewish boys and girls got together and formed a Montreal branch of the Jewish Defense League. I was one of those (not so tough) boys.

It didn’t take long for the tough Jewish boys to break a whole bunch of heads in the areas where Jews were most vulnerable. And it wasn’t like we did whatever it was that we did in anonymity.

We wanted people to know who we were, and what we were willing, able and prepared to do. We wanted everyone to be put on notice that if a Jew was harmed, the consequences were going to be swift, violent and painful.

In a matter of weeks, attacks on Jewish kids virtually ceased.

What astounded me most, was not the outcry against the JDL (Jewish Defense League), from the police or the French speakers of Quebec (which was to be expected), but rather, from the Jewish community of Montreal who accused us of being thugs and worse.

The elitist Montreal Jewish community was terrified that what the JDL was doing was going to invite a backlash. To them, we were no better than the thugs who beat-up upon Jewish kids and elderly Jews dressed in Chasidic garb.

Standing in the middle of the street in the light of day, with a baseball bat in hand, daring the first Jew-hater to step forward was not the “Jewish way”, and could only lead to far worse consequences so the elitists thought.

Well, I’m not 18 years old anymore, and I no longer live in Montreal, but nothing has changed. I’m still willing to stand in the middle of the street, alone if necessary with a baseball bat in hand, to defend my right to be free from intimidation because I’m Jewish.

And for Montreal’s elitist Jewish community, or what’s left of it, they’re still too timid to stand-up for themselves and their right not to be intimidated and bullied.

A short while ago, two French ambulance technicians were told to take their non-kosher food out of the kosher cafeteria of the JGH (Montreal Jewish General Hospital).

One of the technicians was so sufficiently upset with this demand, that he went to the Quebec Human Rights Commission, where the JGH was found guilty of discrimination, and told to pay a fine of $10,000 to the complaining ambulance technician.

The JGH could have fought this decision in the courts, where they probably would have won, but chose to pay and create a non-kosher area.

So, instead of standing up for themselves and their Jewish community, the JGH paid each of the technicians $7,500, even though they didn’t have to pay the second technician, since she didn’t (yet) lodge a formal complaint.

Had the JGH decided to standup and fight as they should have, members of the Montreal Jewish community would have spent whatever money it would have taken to defend their hospital. But cowardice and appeasement won out.

Anne and I donate money to the Montreal Jewish General Hospital every year, and have been doing this for more than a decade. But not any more.

We will not give any part of our hard earned money to people who are quick to give it away to a couple of losers, only because the Hospital is too cowardly to defend themselves against anti-Semitism.

This is the thinking of pre Holocaust Jews. Make deals. Be quiet. Don’t bring attention to ourselves. This is the thinking that got 6,000,000 Jews killed.

This is the thinking of Montreal’s Jewish community. And this too is one of the primary reasons why Anne and I packed-in Montreal, and moved to Ontario.

History teaches some people nothing. And to Jewish Montrealers, obviously nothing at all.

To them – NEVER AGAIN means: never again standing up for their rights to be free from anti-Semitism. I have to wonder if Montreal Jewish cowardice is something that is taught or inherited. It is certainly endemic.

1 Comment

  • Wishing you and Anne a happier lifestyle. You have worked tirelessly for our shared community and our Canadian society. I know you will continue to do so. I consider you a colleague in that we both try to improve our society – each in his own way.
    Best of luck and feel free to contact me any time. Regards to Anne. 🙂

    Norman Simon, Montreal, Quebec

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