MONTREAL — A firebombing of a Jewish-owned property this past weekend – the fourth such incident in less than two weeks – prompted B’nai Brith Canada to urge authorities “get to the bottom of the attacks before people are seriously hurt.”
“The police must explore every avenue of investigation and put an end to these attacks, national legal counsel Steven Slimovich said in a June 16 B’nai Brith statement.
The fourth attack was over the weekend at Kitchen Wholesalers, a kitchen cabinet business in St. Laurent owned by Joe Aisenstark, identified as an observant Jew.
“This is the third Jewish-owned business that has been firebombed in less than two weeks, and our concern for the safety and welfare of the community is high,” the BB statement said.
“The police must take concrete steps to reassure the community that their safety was not in jeopardy.”
Federation CJA, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and police have discounted antisemitism as a motive for the first three attacks, but police and a Toronto Star story over the weekend suggested that a “kosher restaurant war” could be brewing in the Snowdon district, related to price competition issues.
In the early morning of June 7, the Café Shalom restaurant on Queen Mary Road near Decarie Boulevard was hit by two Molotov Cocktails, causing little damage.
On June 8, also during early morning, another Molotov cocktail was thrown at a home on Collins Avenue near Cavendish Boulevard in Cote St. Luc, causing little damage.
On June 9 after midnight a Molotov was thrown through its window at the upscale Chops resto-bar, one block east of Café Shalom, its third firebombing since 2010 and second since October.
The restaurant still had about 30 customers inside, but no injuries were reported. Two hooded figures were seen fleeing the scene.
Subsequent to the attacks, the owner of the Cote St. Luc home was identified as Reza Tehrani-Cohen, a businessman who reportedly has been involved recently in “a number of legal battles” apparently unrelated to the arson attempts.
In 2010, he also disappeared for 24 hours in an apparent failed kidnapping attempt.
Chops owner Ouri Ohayon has offered a $20,000 reward leading to the arrest of the firebombers and was among those citing “jealousy” as the motive for the attacks. Ohayon himself has a criminal history of intimidating a former spouse, but insisted that was unrelated to the attacks on his restaurant.
Others, however, have dismissed restaurant rivalry as a factor, among them Amir Toledano, who runs a kosher steakhouse not far from the two that were firebombed.
“When the first one happened [in 2010] there was no competition,” he told the Star. “So it cannot be a price war.
“And competition? There’s no competition. They could open another five restaurants. There are another three opening now. There’s room for everybody.”