Israel Day sparks outbursts in Montreal

Chris Brady cdbrady at
Fri Apr 19 01:33:41 MDT 2002

Jewish state's 54th marked

Montreal Gazette, Thursday, April 18, 2002

 Celebrations of Israel's Independence Day turned into a display of raw
emotions as thousands of Montreal Jews marched through downtown streets
yesterday to show support for Israel and celebrate its 54th anniversary.

 Phillips Square, where the crowds gathered for a march toward Place du
Canada, was a sea of white-and-blue Israeli flags dotted with posters
denouncing terrorism, the Palestinian Authority and its chairman, Yasser

 At the eastern edge of Phillips Square, the sea of blue-striped Magen
David stars was flanked by few Palestinian flags and a row of about
three dozen black-robed ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews holding signs
denouncing Zionism and the state of Israel. Metal barricades arranged
into a rough square separated the two crowds, with riot police in the

 Most participants sang and danced to Jewish folk music or listened to
passionate speeches by leaders of the Montreal Jewish community.

 But there was a nasty sideshow on the sidelines.

 The sight of Hasidic Jews standing side by side with Palestinian
activists sporting trademark checkered scarves touched a raw nerve in
some people.

 "Hitler hasn't finished with you," an angry man shouted at Jacob Gold.
"But don't worry - there will be another Hitler just for you."

 Unperturbed, Gold, a Talmudic teacher from Boisbriand, kept passing out
leaflets proclaiming, "Israel 'celebrates' 54 years of heresy and

 "Jews will return to Israel but not with force," Gold said.

 "God will send a Messiah and he will decide when we go back." The
creation of a Jewish state is clearly forbidden by the Torah, Gold said.

 Robert Silverman, a founding member of Jewish Alliance Against the
Occupation, said he supports the right of Israel to exist but is
outraged by the actions of the Israeli army in the occupied territories:
"Not in my name, I say. Sharon and others claim to speak in our name but
they don't. I speak as a human being, but also as a Jew."

 Lou Stern, a Montreal businessman, expressed his disdain for such views
by furiously slapping an old Hasidic man on the head. "They never worked
a day in their life," Stern said, shaking with rage.

another man sporting a yarmulke charged the row of Hasidic Jews,
tearing down their anti-Israel posters and hitting them with the wooden

 Ironically, as these hit-and-run attacks went unnoticed by the police,
it was the Palestinian activists who had to intervene to defend the
Hasidic Jews from attacks by pro-Israeli Jews.

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