‘Not acceptable’: Chow condemns arson at Jewish-owned deli in Toronto as investigation into hate-motivated fire continues

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow is calling for peace after a Jewish-owned deli in North York was set on fire in what police describe as “a turning point” in a series of recent anti-Semitic acts in the whole city.

“I know people’s feelings are very intense these days, but targeting Jewish businesses, Jewish stores, is just not acceptable,” Chow told CP24 Thursday morning about the alleged hate-motivated incident.

“There has to be a very clear message that the right to protest is a constitutional right… but being hateful, inciting [violence]”Attacking people because of their religion, their race, their ethnicity or their origin, their skin color, it’s just not who we are in Toronto.”

Emergency crews were called to International Delicatessen Foods (IDF), located near Steeles Avenue and Keele Street, early Wednesday morning for reports of a fire.

The fire was extinguished and no injuries were reported. The words “Free Palestine” were spray painted on the outside of the building.

“This is not graffiti at a bus stop. This is not a legal protest protected by a constitutional right. This is a criminal act. It’s violent. It is directed. It is organized”, Superintendent of Personnel. Pauline Gray told reporters at the scene Wednesday night.

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Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw addressed the arson at an unrelated news conference Thursday and reiterated that “no stone will be left unturned” in the ongoing investigation led by the service’s hate crimes unit. .

“Make no mistakes. This was an organized criminal act that has inflicted great harm on our communities and, in my opinion, was motivated by hate,” he said.

Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw

According to Toronto police, there have been Nearly 100 hate crimes reported in the city. since the beginning of the The war between Israel and Hamas, triggered by a surprise attack on October 7 that left 1,200 Israelis dead.

At least 56 of those 98 incidents were classified by police as anti-Semitic, up from 18 during the same period last year.

Meanwhile, pro-Palestinian protests in Toronto have continued in the last three months while the death toll in Gaza exceeds 22,000.

Many of those protests have unfolded along University Avenue and other major corridors. But there have been cases where some protesters have gathered outside Jewish-owned businesses or in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods.

It is those selective protests that Chow said must stop, stressing that there is a “very fine line” between free speech and hate.

“I urge people to go to Nathan Phillips Square or the Israeli government consulate, whatever the consulate is, those are public spaces,” he said. “Whereas if you come in front of my house or in private spaces, in front of a synagogue, in front of a mosque… then you are saying that you are targeting people because of their religion and because of their origin. . “That is not acceptable.”

No suspect descriptions have been released in connection with Wednesday’s arson.

Police are asking anyone who may have information about the incident to contact them at 416-808-3100 or Crime Stoppers.

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