The North Star


Jewish organizations protest real-estate fair

Canadian courts defend sale of land in illegal settlements

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On March 5, during a protest against Israeli real-estate mega-companies selling construction projects in illegal settlements, a group of community organizations including Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) were served an injunction prohibiting them from protesting outside a list of Jewish institutions throughout the city.

The rally in front of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in Montreal's Côte-des-Neiges district was held to protest against The Great Israeli Real Estate Event. The seminar held at the religious institution advertised luxury real estate for sale throughout Israel, including discounted properties in internationally recognized illegal West Bank settlements such as Efrat and Ma'ale Adumim. This event was the first of five being held across Montreal, Toronto, and the greater New York area, all of which have seen similar counter-demonstrations.

The injunction, requested by the synagogue and Federation CJA (a Montreal-based Jewish organization which supports Israel financially and ideologically) was a “disappointing move from an organization that claims to represent Jewish Montrealers” says Sarah Boivin, spokesperson for IJV, in an interview with North Star. The injunction “feeds into a narrative that the protest was antisemitic or against the Jewish community.” But she says that “we are not protesting the buildings as Jewish community buildings. We are protesting very specific events.”

In the weeks leading up to the event, IJV sought to have the event cancelled by organizing an e-mail write-in campaign. The only response was a mass e-mail from the synagogue to its membership denouncing said campaign and stating that they would not give in to its demands, “dangerously linking the [real estate] events to religious practice. [...] We didn’t wanna be there, we tried to get it cancelled,” Boivin says.

The Great Israeli Real Estate Event was originally slated to take place in late October 2023, though with the onset of the war in Gaza, events were delayed. Still, Boivin says such events being held in synagogues “strategically [shields them] from protest and scrutiny,” obfuscating the demands of those protesting the sale for profit of colonized land with claims of anti-Semitism.

“We find it a dangerous narrative that these protests are threatening to our communities, when in reality they are a powerful, positive, and community-building expression of standing up for justice and for human rights,” says Boivin. “We do this out of love for Jewish traditions towards justice and out of love for the community. A central part of our work is building Jewish communities beyond Zionism and colonialism.”

As of March 16th the injunction has been extended until April 8th, despite there being no further demonstrations planned by Independent Jewish Voices or any other organization affected by the injunction. In a statement to the Montreal Gazette on the subject, the CEO of Federation CJA Yair Szlak declared that "justice was done today once again," praising the courts for recognizing the "urgency and importance of protecting the Jewish community."

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