MONTREAL (JTA) – The long-dormant Jewish Defense League (JDL) said it was setting up shop in Montreal despite opposition by local Jewish and Muslim groups.
JDL leader Meir Weinstein of Toronto said he was establishing the country’s second branch of the self-defense group on Feb. 16 to stem the rise of “radical Islam” in Quebec and to help the pro-Israel Conservative Party government return to power in a national election slated for the fall.
Weinstein, 56, said he planned to have local JDL members aggressively monitor and “infiltrate” radical Islamic groups.
In the United States, the FBI in 2001 labeled the JDL, founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, a violent “right-wing terrorist group.” The group has been inactive in the U.S. for years.
In August, Weinstein, in the wake of some incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in Montreal, organized a local meeting to gauge interest in reviving the JDL after decades of inactivity. About 50 people reportedly attended the meeting.
Rabbi Reuben Poupko of the Jewish community’s main advocacy group, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, or CIJA, said there was no need for a Jewish self-defense group in Montreal.
Poupko said that anti-Semitic incidents have been successfully dealt with by local authorities and has called JDL “marginal” and “superfluous.”