Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 12, 2004
Montreal Jewish school bombing condemned
Quebec bishops label it 'intolerable'
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The Quebec bishops joined Prime Minister Paul Martin and others who condemned the firebombing of a Jewish elementary school on the eve of Passover.
The early-morning fire April 5 damaged books and computers in the library of the United Talmud Torah school in the Montreal suburb of St. Laurent. Anti-Semitic messages were taped to the building. No one was injured.
The Montreal fire bombing follows a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in Toronto in recent weeks.
The Quebec Assembly of Bishops said it was dismayed at the firebombing of the Montreal school and that the Church condemns the anti-Semitic attack.
A statement from seven Quebec bishops called the assault an act of violence that is "intolerable in a country that promotes individual rights and freedoms, and respect for all religions."
The Canadian Church leaders also issued a statement reiterating "our determination to confront anti-Semitism on every front."
Prime Minister Martin called the firebombing an attack on freedom. "The attack against a place of learning, where young children gather is an offence against all that Canadians cherish," he said in a written statement.
The PM also said the assault was not directed against the Jewish community of Montreal but was an act of violence "directed at all Canadians and one to which we must collectively respond."
As well, Martin said he was "horrorstruck" by recent attacks on religious targets in Toronto, including the desecration of a Jewish cemetery, an arson attempt at a mosque, and the vandalizing of a synagogue, its stained-glass windows shattered and symbols of hate written on its walls.
"This is not my Canada," he said. "This is not our Canada."
The Montreal Jewish community said it deplores the anti-Semitic act, saying it was a "a hate crime, which runs contrary to the values of tolerance endorsed by our society."
Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, a student at the school in the 1940s, held a news conference in the school's gymnasium, Canadian Press reported.
"Anti-Semitism is not something new to me. But this kind of racist hate, this kind of violence, an attack of this nature, that was never something that we could have contemplated at that time as students," he said.
The news agency said Montreal police did not disclose the contents of the messages taped to the school but said they were enough to classify the attack as a hate crime.
The Ottawa Citizen said a note left outside the school claimed the attack was in retaliation for Israel's assassination last month of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of the Hamas militant group.
A CTV report said the note warned, "Our goal was only to sound the alarm without causing deaths . . . but this is just a beginning. If your crimes continue in the Middle East, our attacks will continue."