Jewish Community: Sentencing of youth who ripped down and burned Israeli flags fails to Address magnitude of crime’s impact
Crime underscores need for judicial guidelines
MONTREAL, QC – May 15, 2023 – Today, the youth responsible for tearing down and burning Israeli flags taken from a Dollard-Des-Ormeaux Jewish elementary school on April 26, which he filmed and posted on social media, pleaded guilty to arson in front of the Quebec Court – Youth Division. Per the plea deal, the youth received a sentence of one-year probation with conditions that impose protections for both the school and the Jewish community.
The Jewish community is concerned the sentence did not sufficiently consider the hateful motivation behind his actions nor the magnitude of the incident’s impact on the community. The youth’s video documenting the theft and burning of the Israeli flags while Montrealers celebrated Israel’s 75th anniversary (Yom Ha’Atzmaut) was perceived by many as an attempt to intimidate the Jewish community. Having sparked great concern among parents and their children, the Federation CJA’s Community Security Network (CSN) and local law enforcement increased security around Jewish institutions across Montreal in the days following the incident.
In response to the sentencing, Eta Yudin, Quebec Vice President, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, released the following comment:
“Today’s sentencing underscores why we have requested that specially trained prosecutors, equipped with thorough guidelines, be assigned to handle hate crime cases. Ripping down the Israeli flag from a place where children gather and subsequently burning it sends an unmistakably threatening message to Montreal’s Jewish community. When anti-Zionism is used as a guise to target and intimidate Jews in Canada, that is antisemitism. A connection to Israel is an integral part of Canadian Jewish identity and those who import the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, using it to single out and attack Canadian Jews, are engaging in antisemitism. The judicial system must recognize this nuance.
“While we appreciate the sentence's conditions protecting the Jewish community, the one-year probation does little to deter others from committing hateful acts and nothing to educate the individual about the harm of his actions. The circumstances of this crime, including where it took place, warranted a judicial response that made clear the scope and impact of the incident. We will continue to work with government partners to ensure guidelines are established for hate crimes that reflect the severity of the damage they do to those they impact.”
Yair Szlak, President and CEO, Federation CJA, added:
"Today’s sentence should have sent a loud and clear message that acts of antisemitism are motivated by hate and the courts will respond accordingly.
"Targeting of local Jewish institutions by those pushing an anti-Israel agenda is not acceptable. Schools are meant to be safe places for our children to learn and should never be used to showcase hate or to import a foreign conflict.
“Attempts to intimidate Montreal’s Jewish community will never succeed. Our fight against antisemitism and hate will continue as we work to protect Jewish Montrealers from those who seek to do us harm.”
- The terms of the youth’s sentence imposes protections for the both the school and the Jewish community. This includes a one-year probation, which stipulates that he not post about the State of Israel or reference Hebrew Foundation School on social media; that he formally apologize, in writing, to the school; and that he maintain a distance of no less than 200 m from the school.
- Press Release: Jewish Community Horrified by Youths Burning Israeli Flags at Jewish Elementary School on Yom Ha’Atzmaut
- Statistics Canada police-reported hate crime data for 2021 revealed, once again, Jewish Canadians remain the most targeted religious minority for hate crime and second overall.
- There were ten times more hate crimes against Jews reported than any other religious group across the country.
- In Canada, according to Statistics Canada, on average, more than one hate incident targeted Canada’s Jewish community every single day in 2021, which is more than nine per week or 40 per month.
- Not all hate crimes or incidents of antisemitism are reported or recorded. Not all incidents meet the threshold of a crime, especially in schools, so national hate-crime stats do not accurately reflect total antisemitic incidents.
- Currently, no comprehensive hate incident data for schools are available nationally.
- In 2022, CIJA partnered with the Toronto Holocaust Museum and Facing History & Ourselves Canada to create Unlearn It, a ground-breaking educational resource to support parents and educators in teaching youth how to identify, unlearn, and stand against antisemitism both in person and online.
- Press release: Jewish Community Troubled Over Plea Deal in Case Stemming from May 2021 Threats
- Press release: Clear Conditions to Protect Jewish Community Imposed Against an Individual Behind May 2021 Threats
About the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada. CIJA is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and protect Jewish life in Canada through advocacy and to advance the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community.
About Federation CJA
For over one hundred years, Federation CJA has been at the heart of the organized Jewish community in Montreal. In partnership with a vast network of agencies and organizations locally, nationally, and internationally, Federation CJA builds and sustains this community by providing leadership and by supporting the delivery of services and programs to care for the vulnerable and those in need, to ensure a bright Jewish future, to represent communal interests, and to positively affect issues in the wider society.
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