Montreal mayor denounces antisemitism after restaurant allegedly targeted

MONTREAL — Politicians are denouncing violence and intimidation against Montreal's Jewish community after bullet-shaped holes were found in a restaurant window Wednesday morning.

Yoni Amir, co-owner of Falafel Yoni, said his employees arrived to work in the morning and called police after they founds holes that were made by some kind of projectile.

"It's a pretty upsetting and unnerving and unsettling thing for the staff especially," he said in a phone interview.

While he can't say for sure why he was targeted, Amir, who is Jewish, said the incident comes after his restaurant appeared on a list circulating online that urges people to boycott specific businesses that they claim support Israel. He said he's found stickers referring to genocide and calling for a free Palestine have been stuck to the front of the restaurant in recent months.

The restaurant owner said has never expressed political opinions related to the Israel-Hamas war, believing a restaurant shouldn't be a platform for political opinion. He believes he is on the list because he was born in Israel, and has read comments from people who believe his restaurant is culturally appropriating a non-Israeli food. "I'm supportive of political protest and I understand boycotting is something everybody has the right to do and I'm totally OK with that," he said. "But when things cross over to hate and to violence and to racism, I find that specifically deplorable."

Montreal police confirmed they were investigating after three small holes were found in the window of a business in the city's Mile End district.

A spokesperson said they can't confirm whether the holes were made by bullets, or what the motive was.

Mayor Valérie Plante wrote in a message on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the act appears to have been committed with the aim of intimidating the city's Jewish population. "Antisemitism and violence, whether expressed in images, words or gestures, do not represent us and have no place in Montreal," she wrote.

Montreal Liberal MPs Rachel Bendayan and Anthony Housefather also denounced the incident, and suggested the restaurant was targeted due to its Jewish ownership.

Bendayan said this is only the latest in a string of incidents that have left some members of the Jewish community scared of wearing kippahs or letting their kids go to school.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2024.

The Canadian Press