Jewish Community: Sentencing of youth who ripped down and burned Israeli flags fails to Address magnitude of crime’s impact

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|May 16, 2023

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.”


Additional Background

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.

Media Contact

For more information or to coordinate interviews, please contact: 

Nicole Amiel   
Director, Media Relations and GTA Communications
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
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Henry Lovgren
Associate Director, Communications and Marketing (Quebec)
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
[email protected]

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About CIJA
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada.