JDL vs Anti-Fascists in Montreal

After yesterday’s confrontation between the Jewish Defence League (JDL) and anti-fascist activists, the CBC published an article on their Montreal website titled, ‘Jewish Defence League protests against World Social Forum.’

While we tend to be cynical about mainstream news media, the amount of factual errors in this report was surprising even to us. We were especially confused given that the reporter for this story spent over an hour at the confrontation and took comment from multiple participants.

We reached out to the CBC to offer these corrections and are hoping that they edit the piece.

1. There was no World Social Forum (WSF) venue at St Laurent and Ontario. The confrontation described in the article took place outside of an army surplus store because that’s where the JDL were blocked by anti-fascists. The JDL had planned on going to Cégep du Vieux, a few blocks away, but were prevented from doing so by Montreal activists.

2. The JDL never planned to protest the anti-Semitic workshop described in the article, it was removed from the WSF program thanks to the efforts of Jewish leftists in Montreal. The JDL drove from Toronto for the singular purpose of disrupting WSF programming in support of Palestine. Specifically, programming organized by Canadian Friends of Sabeel, an organization that the JDL flew to Vancouver to similarly picket last year. The JDL believes that any advocacy for Palestinian liberation is inherently anti-Semitic and publishing such claims without context is highly irresponsible and does a disservice to those fighting real anti-Semitism.

3. While some individuals registered at the WSF may have participated in the confrontation with the JDL, the vast majority of those present were local anti-racist and anti-fascist activists answering a call made by Jewish leftists. This contrasts greatly to the article’s description of a conflict between a JDL protest (which never occurred) and WSF delegates defending their conference (which similarly did not occur). Further, among the few in attendance who were registered for the conference, most were registered through Independent Jewish Voices, a group frequently targeted by the JDL.

4. The article refers to the JDL only as an ‘ultra-nationalist’ group, providing no other context.
The JDL is a far right anti-Arab hate group that has been banned in several countries. It has engaged in firebombings, assassinations, members have even engaged in mass shootings of Palestinians. As recently as last year, the JDL was condemned by the leaders of Montreal’s largest Jewish institutions along with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who said they were not welcome in the city. Despite this, the JDL has continued to work to create alliances with fascist groups in Montreal but have been consistently met by anti-fascist mobilizations such as the one that occurred yesterday. This context is vital in understanding why there was such impassioned anti-fascist response to their presence in the city.

5. Since there seems to be confusion regarding the details of what took place and why, here is the text of the call from Jewish leftists in Montreal which led to yesterday’s mobilization against the JDL: https://t.co/DVH0tcUAmP

*Since posting this, the CBC article has been edited to add slightly more context to the JDL and remove the erroneous mention of a WSF venue on St Laurent.