Quebec bashing the French way

“I’m afraid,” Rivka keeps repeating to the journalist from World who questions him. Seated on the first floor of a discreet café, the young woman “casts feverish glances at the few customers present”. She almost didn’t come to the meeting, fearing a trap. “She nervously checks her phone kept close at hand: she says she fears at any moment that she will receive an alert message telling her that her daughter’s establishment has been targeted. »

Therefore The world sets the scene for a report, as alarming as it is dismaying, published Saturday in its magazine section. The oppressive scene that he describes in the opening takes place not in a cafe in Kyiv or Khartoum but… in Plateau Mont-Royal, in Montreal!

A tad exaggerated, you say? Wait for the rest. It’s not getting better.

According to this report, “the French Jews of Montreal are in a state of astonishment,” nothing less. To arrive at this peremptory conclusion, the journalist, Hélène Jouan, gave the floor to six French Jews who “thought they had found a refuge where they could permanently put down their suitcases, a safe shelter to protect themselves from the anti-Semitism they had fled leaving France. However, the conflagration in the Middle East destroyed their illusions.

Thus, Yaël, another mother, testifies: “When I pass in the street, with my child in my arms, a man with a keffiyeh or a veiled woman, I cannot help but wonder what They would do us if they knew. »

There is also Julia, a 29-year-old lawyer who, since the October 7 massacres in Israel, “lives almost as a recluse in her house in the west of the island, reports The world. The young mother is on the lookout when she does her shopping in the kosher sections of her supermarket.” She gave up going to the synagogue, “for fear of coming across pro-Palestinian demonstrators brandishing their signs where Israel is compared to Nazi Germany”.

Obviously, this would be a painful experience. You don’t equate an entire nation with Nazi Germany. Out of respect for this nation and for the victims of the Shoah, this cannot be done. Everyone knows that, except perhaps a handful of angry protesters and… The world, who concludes his report with a truly astonishing quote.

At the end of a text of more than 3000 words in which Montreal is depicted as a city where life is not really good, but then life is really not good for a Jew, Yaël confides that he is thinking of leaving the metropolis before it is too late : “I was always told that German Jews stayed in Germany because they believed that German society, into which they were integrated, would support them. Today, in Quebec, we are at the time of choice, there will be no going back. »

Usually, Quebec bashing, it comes from English Canada. From the United States, sometimes, too.

The French media are generally more sympathetic to us. Often, when they don’t really know what they’re saying, they idealize us. The great outdoors, my cabin in Canada and all that. I still laugh at the surrealist portrait of Ricardo Larrivee as a “gentleman-trapper” in the magazine She. A little more and maple syrup was flowing through his veins.

Perhaps the six French people interviewed for the report World did they read these articles full of clichés before choosing to immigrate to Quebec. Maybe they expected a snowy paradise where everyone is beautiful, everyone is nice. Perhaps they came up against a much less enchanting reality.

It is true that two Jewish schools in Montreal came under fire, in the middle of the night and without causing any injuries, shortly after the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas. It is also true that there has been an increase in hate crimes targeting Jews and Muslims in the metropolis. Montreal is not immune to hatred, but it is far from being the only city in the world where the conflict has reignited intercommunity tensions.

Things calmed down but, at the height of tensions, some members of the Montreal Jewish community could certainly have been worried, or even afraid. I do not disagree. I regret, however, that The world only saw fit to give the floor to interlocutors who share a terribly alarmist vision of what is happening in the metropolis.

Of the 90,000 Jews in Montreal, it seems to me that he could have found a few (and even many) who consider this city open, welcoming and very largely peaceful.

By darkening the portrait to this extent, the journalist spoiled her subject, who would have deserved much more balance and delicacy. Anything excessive is insignificant.

The report also maintains that the “Belle Province” did not wait for the massive arrival of French-speaking immigrants from North Africa “to indulge in its nauseating inclinations”.

He reminds us that, in Barney’s World, Mordecai Richler painted the portrait of these “old-stock Quebecers” who, fed the anti-Semitic editorials of the pre-war press, (…) “flirted with fascism and marched in 1942 on Saint-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal, by breaking the windows of Jewish stores and chanting: to death!” “.

This is an interesting mise en abyme. In a report where we try our hand at Quebec bashing in the French way, we cite – apparently without realizing it – one of the greatest masters of this ancient art. Who has forgotten this text from New Yorker, published on the eve of the 1995 referendum, in which the Montreal writer deplored the “climate of subtle and non-violent ethnic cleansing” which had pushed thousands of Anglophones into exodus?

No, really, Quebec bashing is an art that is not lost. Just last week, Tucker Carlson, former Fox News anchor, said that Montreal had been “cleansed” of its English heritage. “Within a generation, all that was gone, they were driven out. »

We expect such enormities from this polemicist. The world has accustomed us to better.


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