Firebombing of Jewish School A 'Hate Crime': CJC

Posted: 9/14/2006 9:48:00 PM
Author: CTV.cas News Staff
Source: This dispatch was reported on CTV (Canada)

Firebombing of Jewish School A 'Hate Crime': CJC
Updated Tue. Sep. 5 2006 11:37 PM ET News Staff

A leading voice in Canada's Jewish community is urging authorities to declare the weekend firebombing at a Montreal Hasidic boys' school as a hate crime.

Police are treating the firebombing -- which was caught on tape -- as an arson probe, citing an absence of anti-Semitic material at the site to call it a hate crime.

"But we at the community feel that it is a hate crime because it was one of our institutions that was attacked directly," said Canadian Jewish Congress Quebec Region President Jeffrey K. Boro on Tuesday.

"And so we can't classify it as anything but that for the time being."

Police are still seeking a masked man captured on a surveillance tape as he lobbed a Molotov cocktail at the Skver-Toldos Orthodox Jewish Boys school in Montreal's Outremont borough on Saturday morning.

It happened some 20 minutes after 12 religious school students left the facility.

Boro told Canada AM the community is thankful that nobody was in the building at the time, and steps are being taken to boost security measures and ease the minds of dozens of students who are returning to the school.

"Obviously the teachers will be speaking with the students, they will be explaining the incident and will also set their minds at ease that they are being well protected, which they are," he said.

"Everything has been cleaned up. There wasn't substantial damage. The school also had installed a sprinkler system and so the damage was just contained to the vestibule and that's been taken care of."

Boro wouldn't go into details of exactly what security measures are being added, but he told The Canadian Press they would require a "very substantial" infusion of funds.

Jewish community members spent several million dollars upgrading security equipment at Jewish schools and day-care centres in the Montreal-area following a firebombing in 2004.

That incident destroyed the library of the United Talmud Torahs elementary school.

"When that incident took place, it was a wake-up call, I think, to Jewish communities all over Canada and all over North America that things have changed," Boro told Canada AM.

"We have to protect our institutions and that's what we've gone about doing over the past two years."

Boro said the community is happy that security measures that were enacted two years ago has been working "very well."

"As you can see, we do have a video and there are ways of enhancing that video, and therefore we hope that we will be able to catch the perpetrator."

"In terms of more incidents such as this, let's say put the security in the forefront and we will evaluate on a building by building case to see and make sure that what we've done to date is adequate, and where it isn't we will be making it better. That is for sure."

An anonymous donor, described as a French-Canadian businessman, is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

The Montreal Gazette reported that it was the same businessman who promised a $15,000 reward after the bombing of Montreal's United Talmud Torahs elementary school.

A note left at the scene claimed the attack was in retaliation for Israel's killing of Hamas spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

A 19-year-old man was sentenced to 40 months in prison in 2005 for the attack.