Israeli army reservists were speaking on an advocacy tour

Pro-Palestinian mob blocks access to Montreal Holocaust Museum over pro-Israel event

Central Jewish community group denounces protest as deliberate intimidation of local Jews; police deploy in force to secure similar gathering at synagogue

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Screen capture from video of a pro-Palestinian protest outside a Jewish community center in Montreal, Canada, March 5, 2024. (X. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of a pro-Palestinian protest outside a Jewish community center in Montreal, Canada, March 5, 2024. (X. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters surrounded the Montreal Holocaust Museum on Monday, preventing access to the building where a group of Israeli army reservists were speaking as part of an advocacy tour.

Protesters reportedly chanted “Death to Israel, death to the Jews,” among other taunts.

The event, held at the Jewish Community Foundation building which houses the Holocaust museum, was part of a North American speaking tour by DiploAct, an advocacy group campaigning against the delegitimization of Israel. Among the speakers were Nir Yosef, Ori Itzhaki and Aby Volcovich, all of whom are reservists in the Israel Defense Forces.

Organizers of the event — Federation CJA, a key local Jewish community group, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs — said in a joint statement that demonstrators were “attempting to block access to the building and are harassing those trying to enter.”

Denouncing the protest, the statement said it was “not about political views or a foreign conflict; it’s an intentional intimidation of Jewish Montrealers. The protests we’ve decried for weeks have escalated into a hate mob targeting Jewish institutions.”

“Calling for intifada, terrorism against civilians, is not a peaceful protest,” the statement continued. “Jews must be able to gather without the need for protection. Now we ask our leaders: what more needs to happen for you to grasp the gravity of the situation?”

There were reportedly scuffles with police using pepper spray against some protesters, but no reports of arrests.

CTV News Montreal reported that a small group of people from the Jewish community held a counter-protest.

A CJA official told the UK’s Jewish Chronicle newspaper that the DiploAct event went ahead as planned as most participants were able to enter the building before the protesters blocked it.

In a follow-up statement, the CJA and the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said they shared their security concerns with police ahead of the event, citing “the last few months of hate protest escalating,” and called for resources to be deployed to ensure access to the building.

It said police were “not able to maintain buffer zones and failed to ensure access to all entrances and exists.”

The National Post outlet reported that the protest was organized by the Concordia University chapter of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights.

According to the report, SPHR pressured Concordia University not to host the event on campus as originally planned, before it was moved to the Holocaust Museum.

Concordia University Hillel said the cancellation of the event was due to “the BDS movement in Montreal.”

Start Up Nation, also an organizer of the DiploAct talk, said of the cancellation, “Concordia University says: ‘Israelis not welcome,’ … This is absolute discrimination.”

DiploAct held a similar talk on Tuesday at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Montreal, and pro-Palestinian protesters again gathered.

“Another day, another angry mob chanting hatred directed at Jewish Montrealers,” CJA and CIJA said.

According to the groups, the protesters were served an injunction requiring them to stay 50 meters away from Jewish community institutions and that police “were out in full force to ensure effective buffer zones.”

The Combat Against Antisemitism Movement posted on X that “Protesting against Israel outside local Jewish community centers isn’t about legitimate criticism. It’s about hatred of the Jewish people.”

Anti-Israeli demonstrators wave Palestinian flags during a protest in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 9, 2023 (Cole Burston / AFP)

There has been a surge in antisemitism in cities around the world amid the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and as pro-Palestinian groups protest against Israel.

War erupted when Palestinian terror group Hamas led a devastating attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, amid horrific atrocities including widespread gang rape, torture and mutilation of victims. Thousands of attackers invaded southern Israel through the border with the Gaza Strip and terrorists also abducted 253 people of all ages who were taken as hostages in Gaza.

Israel responded with a military campaign to topple the Hamas regime, destroy the terror group and free the hostages.

Days after October 7, SPHR put out a statement endorsing the Hamas attacks.

Last month, a ground-breaking Canadian cyclist was dropped from speaking at an International Women’s Day event in Ontario, Canada, after pro-Palestinian groups discovered that decades ago she served in the IDF.

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