It started off innocently enough. The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of Canada, posted a holiday photo on their Facebook page. The World War II era photo showed Jewish Canadian soldiers celebrating the Passover Seder and was captioned “Celebrating Freedom in Canada since 1760. Happy Passover.”
To Quebec nationalists, 1760 is an ominous date. On the 8th of September 1760, British General Jeffery Amherst captured Montreal, ending French rule in North America once and for all. As such, a group calling itself the FÃ©dÃ©ration des QuÃ©bÃ©cois de Souche or the Federation of Old Stock Quebecers took umbrage with the CIJA’s Passover message. On their Facebook page, they declared “Quand la communautÃ© juive cÃ©lÃ¨bre la conquÃªte anglaise… c’est surement moins bon pour les relations inter-communautaires…” (When the Jewish Community celebrates the English conquest, it’s surely less than good for inter-communal relations).
The FQS states on its Web site, under the headline “Qui sommes-nous?” (Who are we?) that “Tout d’abord, voilÃ ce que nous ne sommes pas: des marginaux, des extrÃ©mistes ou des ignorants…” (First of all, here is what we are not: marginal elements, extremists or ignorant.” However, they have proven themselves to be, at the very least, very ignorant indeed. You see, in the Canadian Jewish community, 1760 is relevant because it marks the entry of the first legal Jewish residents to Canada. See, in 1663, when King Louis XIV officially made Canada province of the Kingdom of France, he decreed that only Roman Catholics could enter the colony. In other words, no Jews allowed. The first Jews officially allowed into Canada were 4 members of Amherst’s officer corps: Emmanuel de Cordova, Aaron Hart, Hananiel Garcia, and Isaac Miramer. Hart eventually settled in Trois-RiviÃ¨res and became one of the important founders of Montreal’s Jewish community.
The point is that had the French not been so anti-Jewish, the CIJA’s banner could have cited a much earlier date. That it coincides with the British defeat of the French is merely a reflection of old school French Catholic prejudice against Jews – some of which remains vibrant and alive in Quebecois nationalist circles apparently, judging from comments on the FQS Facebook page. Several FQS supporters have even cited this image as encouraging anti-Quebecois hatred (!!) and have reported it to Facebook (!!!). Others have seen in this image of Canadian Jewish soldiers during in WWII, an example of Zionist militarism.
It should be noted that the Lower Canada (basically Quebec) National Assembly in 1832 passed the Jewish Emancipation Act granting Quebec Jews full civil rights – making Quebec the first British territory to emancipate the Jews. The rest of the UK didn’t catch up for another 27 years. So not all “Patriotes” are xenophobic, just the ignorant ones that belong to the FQS. Oh how I miss Quebec – Tu me manques QuÃ©bec. Joyeuse PÃ¢ques, connards!