Hateful messages against Jews and Israel, including praise for Hezbollah, were discovered and removed from a City of Côte St. Luc website after they’d already been up for a month.
On Feb. 6, a Côte St. Luc parent alerted the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) to an apparent hacking of the attendance sheets, stored on Google Docs, for a children’s swim team in the city. The city, unaware of its existence, immediately took down the offensive material, which had been posted Jan. 9.
Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said the city contacted Google to try to find out the origin of the hacker’s IP address and asked police to look into it.
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“We contacted the police so that they should be aware of the incident and pursue it any way they can,” even if the hacking was done by teens, Brownstein said.
Montreal police stated that, for reasons of confidentiality, they would not confirm that a complaint had been filed or that an investigation is being conducted.
CIJA Quebec co-chair Rabbi Reuben Poupko characterized the postings as “death threats” against the Jewish community.
“We strongly condemn and are alarmed by these death threats against the Jewish community… We feel that it is imperative to promptly investigate this incident, as it is with any hate crime, and that the perpetrator or perpetrators be brought to justice.”
Screenshots released by CIJA show in the comments section a photo of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah beside a quote: “We are going to win because they love life and we love death.” There’s also a photo of armed men, apparently Hezbollah fighters.
Beside it is a French entry under “Snap: Le_Masculiste,” and a “rating” of girls according to such qualities as “puterie” (a vulgar term for promiscuity) and “cuisine” (cooking).
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On the attendance sheet forms, children’s names were replaced with phrases such as “F—Israel/Vive Hezbollah” and “Khalil a tuer [sic] 7 juif [sic].”
Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, is designated as a terrorist organization by the government of Canada.
Even if this is a kid’s prank, Rabbi Poupko said police should treat it as a hate crime, one that is especially disturbing because it targeted children and families. He said he’s confident they will take the matter seriously, as they have in the past when the Jewish community is at risk.
CIJA Quebec deputy director of public affairs David Ouellette noted that the perpetrator must have known that the majority of the members of the team are Jewish.
“Recent history shows us that we are right to take these threats seriously,” he said.
Brownstein later explained to The CJN why the material went unnoticed that long.
“It was an attendance Google document attached to the swim team site. The swim team operates the site independently. Obviously the parents and kids don’t go on to the attendance sheet very often if it was only noticed yesterday [Feb. 6],” he said.
“IT has confirmed the comments were posted on Jan. 9 and has now taken security measures to stop any further postings.”
Meanwhile in Outremont, some residents were countering a spate of swastikas scrawled in snow covering parked cars by replacing them with hearts.
Chassidic community activist Mayer Feig said at least four cars with such swastikas were found on Hutchison Street over the night of Feb. 5-6. That’s the street on the border between the boroughs of Outremont and Plateau Mont Royal, where many Chassidim live.
Some residents responded to a call made via social media by neighbour Sarah Dorner to draw as many hearts as possible on vehicles.
Feig termed the swastikas “messages of hate” and tweeted his appreciation for the gesture and the quick response of police to his complaint.
Dorner, a young mother, said her gesture was intended to show that there are residents who care.
B’nai Brith Canada thinks the appearance of the snow swastikas is evidence of “the ugly reality of anti-Semitism in Canada.”
Regional director Harvey Levine stated: “It was heartwarming to see members of the community organize to draw hearts on the snow-covered cars. It was a wonderful gesture of solidarity against this type of anti-Semitism.”
Kathleen Weil, Quebec’s minister of immigration, diversity and inclusion, denounced the incidents.
“I find it absolutely frightening,” she said. “I want to extend all of my sentiments to the Jewish community and to the young people who were targeted.”