Quebec has issued a 10-day injunction designed to protect Jewish institutions after Montreal buildings were protested on two consecutive evenings

Anti-Israel protest in front of Montreal's Federation CJA building, March 4, 2024.

A temporary injunction banning protests in front of Montreal Jewish community buildings has been issued by the Quebec Superior Court after two consecutive nights of protests.

Federation CJA and Montreal’s Spanish and Portuguese congregation sought out the injunction after protests on March 4 and 5, one of which resulted in the arrest of two men for assault.

The injunction names Independent Jewish Voices, Montréal4Palestine, Palestinian Youth Movement, Alliance4Palestine and Bara Iyad Abuhamed. The groups and anyone affiliated with the groups are prohibited from protesting within 50 meters of the Federation CJA building, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, the Cummings Centre, the Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA, Herzliah High School, and United Talmud Torahs of Montreal for 10 days.

“Monday night (March 4) was the impetus for the injunction at the end of the day. Of course, protests and freedom of speech are important in a democratic society. Intimidation and siege of a Jewish building which houses a Holocaust centre, social service agencies that provide support for seniors, Holocaust survivors and vulnerable people—a place for Jewish life—is not something that we can accept as a Jewish community.

“I think it’s critical for Montreal as a city to wrap their heads around the idea that Jewish communal institutions, houses of worship, and synagogues have become targets of siege,” Yair Szlak, CEO of Federation CJA, told The CJN.

Szlak was referring to a protest that took place in front of the Federation CJA building when hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters blocked the entrances and prevented people from attending an event that featured three IDF reservists. Those who were able to attend the event were then stuck in a dark room, unable to exit the building safely for hours.

“People who tried to enter were yelled at, shoved and intimidated. We’ve seen the videos of what they were chanting. At that point, there is a limit to what we are willing to tolerate as a Jewish community and I think that limit has been reached. Police did not remove protesters from our property after request to do so, so we had to give them the legal authority and tools to take action,” said Szlak.

Federation received numerous calls from concerned citizens in the area, rattled by the fact that protesters trespassed on their property without repercussions.

Another protest took place in front of Montreal’s Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue which was holding an Israeli real estate event on March 5. The protest was met with a heavy police presence and lasted a few hours. Montreal police (SPVM) were able to keep protesters and counter-protesters separate and no incidents were reported.

“I think the SPVM learned from the evening before and did a much better job enforcing a corridor to enter and exit the synagogue. There was no confrontation for those trying to leave the synagogue. Whether the protest was peaceful is a different conversation,” said Szlak.

“I don’t believe that Quebec society or Montreal’s greater community should tolerate this. There is a conflict happening 5,000 miles away and we of course mourn the loss of innocent lives on all sides. At the end of the day, nothing that’s happening here is going to change that conflict.

“These protests which have become increasingly aggressive are not the fabric of what Quebec society is about. That is what we are trying to convey and the mayor’s office has a big responsibility to deal with it. Is this the Montreal that we want to live in? I would think most Montrealers would say no.”

Szlak said that the federation is still working on an action plan for when the injunction expires in 10 days.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has not publicly spoken out about this week’s protests but reposted a social media statement by the Côtes-Des-Neiges borough Mayor Gracia Kasoki Katahwa.

“The freedom of expression, like the freedom to demonstrate, is protected by our human rights charters. We must protect them, but intimidation and hatred will not be tolerated,” read the post.