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Cablegate: Montreal Jewish School Firebombed On Passover

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Montreal Jewish School Firebombed on Passover

Ref: Toronto 000564

1. A private Jewish school in Montreal's St. Laurent
neighborhood was firebombed in the early morning hours
of April 5, the first day of the Passover holiday. The
firebombing took place between 2.a.m. and 3 a.m. in the
library of the United Talmud Torah St. Laurent School
on de l'Eglise Street. There were no casualties.

2. Inspector Yves Surprenant, of the Montreal Police
Department, was quoted in media accounts as saying
that, "What was written on the paper stuck to the door
has made us believe it was a hate crime" but the police
would not confirm media accounts that the note, written
in French, made reference to recent attacks against
Palestinians including the killing of Sheik Ahmed
Yassin in Gaza.

3. Local and federal politicians, including the Prime
Minister, were quick to condemn the incident, and a
rally was held outside the school yesterday, attended
by Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay, Federal Justice
Minister Irwin Cotler, and leaders of the Montreal
Jewish Community. Cotler, a graduate of the school and
a noted human rights lawyer, was reported to have told
the rally, "Yes, as students we received anti-Semitism,
but it was the anti-Semitism of ignorance, of
stereotyping, of prejudice. What we have witnessed
here today is the anti-Semitism of hate and of racism."

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4. Quebec Premier Jean Charest released a statement as
well, noting, "Setting fire to a school is already a
vile act, since it touches the future of our society.
But when it is done in the name of racism and
intolerance, every Quebecer must stand up to denounce
it so that it never happens again." The president of
the Canadian Islamic Conference, for his part, is
quoted as saying that the "agony will be double if the
fire was committed by a Muslim."

5. Security surveillance of Jewish institutions in
Montreal will be stepped up, and as will that of Muslim
mosques, "in case of any counter-acts," according to a
Montreal police spokeswoman.

6. This act comes just a few weeks after a series of
anti-Semitic vandalism incidents occurred in the
greater Toronto area (reftel). Federal and local
leaders, as they did in Montreal, loudly condemned the
crimes committed in Toronto. In addition, the Toronto
police service has announced the arrest of three
individuals in connection with the vandalism. Taken
together, however, these two high-profile events
bolster statistics recently released by B'nai Brith
that suggest that anti-semitic incidents are on the
rise in Canada.

7. The Consulate left messages of sympathy with the
Quebec offices of the Canadian Jewish Congress and the
B'Nai Brith Canada; both organizations were apparently
closed for the Passover holiday.

8. This cable includes input from Embassy Ottawa.

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