Jewish Defence League protests against World Social Forum

About a dozen members of the Jewish Defence League protested near World Social Forum venue on Wednesday, in response to what they say was anti-Semitic content at the forum.

Members of militant, ultra-nationalist group travelled to Montreal to picket event

According to witnesses, police separated the Jewish Defence League from the anti-Jewish Defence League protesters and a megaphone battle between the two groups ensued. (Neil Herland/Twitter)

About a dozen members of the Jewish Defence League protested Wednesday near a World Social Forum venue, in response to what they say was anti-Semitic content at the conference.

The protestors of the ultra-nationalist and controversial Jewish-rights organization were headed to the Cégep du Vieux Montréal, however, were stopped by police and counter protestors at St-Laurent Boulevard south of Ontario Street.

The JDL protesters said they were upset about a cartoon promoting a talk by Seyed Ali Mousavi entitled "Terrorizm, Wahabbism, Zionism."

After being called "blatantly anti-Semitic," the cartoon was taken off the website.

The talk, along with two others, was also cancelled.

"We're here because the World Social Forum is having a conference in Montreal, and a lot of the content is anti-Semitic," said Meir Weinstein, who travelled to Montreal from Toronto.

The controversial cartoon accompanied information on a World Social Forum conference entitled "Terrorizm, Wahhabism, Zionism." It has since been pulled from the forum's website. (2016 World Social Forum)

One protester, Yoel Bitton, said he emigrated from France to Montreal because of growing anti-Semitism in Europe. He said he doesn't want to see that spread to Canada.

"They want to import the conflict here in Montreal," Bitton said.

Some forum delegates showed up at the demonstration to defend the World Social Forum, which got underway Tuesday.

"I feel that the Jewish Defence League  the JDL  they need to be intercepted, and they need to be prevented from interfering with very important political organizing," delegate Emily Green said.

The JDL's tactics, including militant counter-protests and confrontations at anti-Israel demonstrations, have earned the league both attention and strong criticism. 

The FBI has labelled the U.S. wing of the JDL as a right-wing terrorist group, however it is not on the Government of Canada's list of groups or individuals identified being associated with terrorism

The World Social Forum, which is expected to attract 50,000 people to Montreal before it wraps on Aug. 14, aims to come up with "concrete alternatives to the neo-liberal economic model and to policies based on the exploitation of human beings and nature," according to its website.


  • An earlier version of this story stated that a protest took place outside the World Social Forum venue at Cégep du Vieux Montréal. In fact it took place nearby.
    Aug 11, 2016 1:46 PM ET

with files from Neil Herland