Montreal Gazette

Plante urged to clearly denounce antisemiti­sm

Community leaders decry `horrific spate,' want anti-racism commission­er fired


A group of community leaders has signed a letter calling on Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante to clearly denounce anti-jewish hate and to fire the city's anti-racism commission­er.

The group includes former MP Marlene Jennings, who served as president of the Quebec Community Groups Network for an 18-month tenure ending in 2022, and Gemma Raeburn-baynes, an activist in the city's Caribbean community.

The letter condemns the “horrific spate of antisemiti­sm that Montreal has witnessed since the Oct. 7 attack by the Hamas terrorists on Israel.”

It also highlights the confrontin­g of Hampstead Mayor Jeremy Levi (who is Jewish) by Palestinia­n supporters at the Dec. 18 agglomerat­ion council meeting, as well as the actions of anti-racism commission­er Bochra Manaï, who attended pro-palestinia­n rallies, including one in which controvers­ial imam Adil Charkaoui called for “Allah to exterminat­e the Zionists.”

Manaï didn't apologize for attending the events, but recognized during a meeting with Jewish rights group B'nai Brith Canada that she should refrain from attending future rallies. This was after Plante reminded her that she had a “duty of discretion.”

The letter states that while Montreal has seen a spate of antisemiti­c attacks, including shots fired at two Jewish schools, Plante has yet to make an adequate condemnati­on of antisemiti­sm and call for the Israeli hostages to be released from Gaza.

Reached by phone this week, Jennings said she is proud to lend her name to the letter. She said that despite some nice words coming from Plante, the mayor has so far failed to clearly denounce antisemiti­sm, as she often decries other forms of hate, namely against the Muslim community, in her statements.

“If we are talking about anti-black hate, we are not talking about other forms of hate,” Jennings said. “Furthermor­e, (Manaï) still has not apologized and still has not been released from that position.”

In a written reaction, the Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs agreed that the response from the mayor's office against antisemiti­sm has been lacking.

“Months ago, we called for the replacemen­t of Bochra Manaï,” Eta Yudin, the vice-president of Quebec for CIJA, said in a statement. “While the mayor reprimande­d her, the issue was never adequately addressed. Manaï failed Montrealer­s in a time of crisis and must be replaced. Antisemiti­sm is at record levels. The Jewish mayor of a city in the agglomerat­ion frequently faces antisemiti­c attacks at meetings.

“Montrealer­s have reason to be concerned that our elected officials simply do not understand the gravity of the situation. We say again: Valérie Plante must step up, replace Bochra Manaï and acknowledg­e this wave of antisemiti­sm's historic nature.”

Asked about the letter, Plante would not say whether she will fire Manaï or adopt the Internatio­nal Holocaust Remembranc­e Alliance's definition of antisemiti­sm as demanded. However, she did speak against the hate directed against the Jewish community.

“For the Jewish community, it has been tough. Just before the holidays, two Jewish schools were shot at, so I understand there is a feeling (of insecurity),” Plante said at city hall on Wednesday.

“That being said, it is very important for me to reiterate that at the city of Montreal, antisemiti­sm is not something we will accept. This is why the city has worked with police to bring more officers in certain areas, as requested. We meet on a daily basis with (representa­tives) of the Jewish community, and we will continue to do so and be on the ground to reassure people that Montreal is a safe city, and a city of peace.”

 ?? DAVE SIDAWAY FILES ?? Former MP and QCGN president Marlene Jennings says Mayor Valérie Plante has failed to stand up to antisemiti­sm.
DAVE SIDAWAY FILES Former MP and QCGN president Marlene Jennings says Mayor Valérie Plante has failed to stand up to antisemiti­sm.

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