Jewish Groups Condemn Quebec Protesters’ Nazi Salutes
Quebec student federation apologizes for use of the gesture
The university student federation of Quebec has issued an apology for the use of Nazi salutes by students during protests, after condemnation by multiple Jewish organizations, according to the CBC.
The gesture was used by many protesters this past week to mock Montreal police officers, who have also been referred to as the “SS,” “fascists” and have been compared to Nazi police for their alleged brutality. Swastikas have also appeared on pamphlets distributed by protesters to express their disapproval of the police.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs denounced the decision to use the gesture in the current anti-police context earlier this week, saying it speaks to a lack of historical understanding by the protesters.
B’nai Brith Canada said that while the gesture isn’t meant to promote Nazism itself, the behavior of the protesters is still unacceptable.
“We condemn, in the strongest of terms, this inexcusable display of hate by Quebec student protesters that has outraged the Jewish community and demonstrated just how low the level of public debate has fallen on the streets of Montreal,” said CEO Frank Dimant in a statement released Tuesday, which would have marked the 83rd birthday of Holocaust victim Anne Frank.
“The actions of these protesters, whether for the purposes of deriding Montreal police or drawing attention to their cause, defile the memory of the Holocaust and remind us just how quickly anti-Semitism and the manifestations of hate can venture their way into our public discourse.”
In an interview with the Canadian Press, Dimant reiterated that those actions insulted the memory of all who were affected by the Holocaust.
“It’s offensive to a wide range of Canadians including war veterans, Holocaust survivors, children of survivors and anyone who has a real understanding of what the Nazi era was all about,” said Dimant. “To equate the actions of police in Montreal to Nazis is totally inappropriate. I believe that they know they can get media attention with it. I don’t think they realize the pain and angst that they’re causing to people. It trivializes the entire Holocaust experience.”
Martine Desjardins, president of the student federation, said the salute doesn't “represent the values of Quebec and Canada,” in an apology issued by the federation later on Tuesday.
“We think it was an error in judgement that they used that sign,” she said.