Hypocritical Outrage: What’s Wrong with Burning Flag of an Apartheid State?

A 16-year-old teenager was arrested for burning an Israeli flag in Montreal. (Photo: video grab)

By Yves Engler

We are supposed to be outraged by a teenager burning Israeli flags but ignore a publicly funded school indoctrinating six and seven-year-olds to worship a faraway apartheid state.

On Wednesday a Montréal teenager filmed himself taking five Israeli flags attached to the outside fence of Hebrew Foundation School in the borough of Dollard-des-Ormeaux (DDO). With Arabic music playing in the background, he subsequently burned them.

The Israel lobby cried bloody murder and the Montréal Gazette, CBC, CTV, Global and others reported on the incident.

The Liberal MP in the riding, Sameer Zuberi, tweeted, “Images of a young person removing Israeli flags from Dollard’s Hebrew Foundation School, and later burning them, are shocking and abhorrent. Hate, intolerance, and antisemitism have absolutely no place in our community or country. Everyone must be and feel safe in Canada.”

For his part, the executive director of Hebrew Foundation School, Glenn Eisenberg, called it an “act of overt Jew-hate” and “there is no doubt this was motivated by antisemitism.”

The Montreal police’s hate crimes unit later arrested a 16-year-old.

But the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians’ right to burn flags and there is a tradition of doing so. In principle, it is illegal to take someone else’s flags but there’s a good chance the school violated municipal bylaws by placing unsanctioned material on the outside of its fence and public sidewalk. At most, the five flags cost $20 (hundreds of the same style of the flag were handed out at the Israel rally downtown Montréal earlier that day).

The apartheid lobby’s outrage is flagrantly hypocritical. On one hand, they claim Jews find it hateful to see the Israeli flag burned. Simultaneously, however, they ignore how those who’ve been disenfranchised by that state (or oppose apartheid) may find the Israeli flag hurtful or provocative.

According to the Hebrew Foundation School’s Facebook page, the flags that were burned were put up to celebrate a day Palestinians associate with the Nakba (catastrophe). Before the incident was reported the school posted, “Parading the streets of DDO and showing off our pride for the state of Israel! Thank you to the parents who joined the parade in decked-out cars, blasting the best Israeli music!”

Is anyone surprised someone reacted negatively to this pro-apartheid rally?

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ Quebec vice-president, Eta Yudin, told the Gazette “This incident is a sad reminder that youth are being radicalized so young.” In fact, he’s got things backward. A quick search of Hebrew Foundation School’s Facebook and Instagram pages reveals an institution indoctrinating young minds into worshiping a violent faraway state that oppresses millions. One post included a big board with the emblem of the IDF and multiple photos of Israeli soldiers. Another post mentions students assisting a charity supporting injured Israeli soldiers while another notes, “Our students and staff were enthralled with Eli’s story as a soldier during the Yom Kippur war.” Set featured image

The grade schoolers often sing Israel’s national anthem and participate in events put on by the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund, which has played an important role in the colonization of Palestine. A large map shown to the grade schoolers at a recent JNF Day included the illegally occupied West Bank as Israel.

Hebrew Foundation School’s promotion of apartheid is, of course, to the detriment of those dispossessed by Israel. The kids are being melded to speak, vote, fundraise, etc. in a manner that will reinforce Palestinian subjugation. Some of the Montrealers may even be inspired to leave Canada’s greatest city to join a military force killing Palestinians and regularly bombing neighboring countries.

Beyond the damaging impact the school has on Palestinians, is it good for kids growing up in Montréal to be obsessed with a faraway land most of their parents or grandparents have probably never lived in? How does that impact their sense of place? While the photos posted by the school on Facebook and Instagram showed many Israeli flags, I didn’t see a single Canadian or Québec flag.

Yet all Québecers are subsidizing the school. In 2021-22 the school received $1.3 million in direct government assistance and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in public subsidies through charitable tax receipts.

It is outrageous that taxpayers are subsidizing private schools indoctrinating kids into celebrating a state human rights groups say is committing the crime of apartheid. A 16-year-old challenging that makes me think that at least some of the kids are all right.

 – Yves Engler is the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and a number of other books. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit his website: yvesengler.com.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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  1. This is a hateful post.Try to cultivate broader empathy and compassion for people of all faiths and backgrounds, including Jewish people. I am sorry you devalue those who differ from you in nationality and identity. You seriously undermine Palestinian rights and people and human rights generally by refusing an ethic of care and recognition of humanity of Jewish people and Israelis. I wish you peace, well being, compassion and kindness for yourself and others.

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