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Former Montreal taxi driver faces hate-crime investigation

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A taxi driver is photographed following an alleged anti-Semitic incident in Montreal on July 28. (Bill613.com/Facebook)

Montreal police are investigating the alleged physical assault of, and death threat against, a Jewish man, and the verbal abuse of another, by a taxi driver in the garage of a condominium in the St-Laurent borough of Montreal on July 28 as a hate crime.

On Aug. 1, the driver’s employer, Champlain Taxi, fired him and issued an apology to the Jewish community through the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), which expressed shock at the incident, while B’nai Brith Canada said it is “outraged.” Both Jewish men targeted by the taxi driver were wearing kippot.

Champlain also said the driver’s permit would be revoked by the Montreal Taxi Bureau.

The incident was caught, at least partially, by a security camera in the garage of the condominium complex known as the Four Towers.

More than six minutes of that footage was posted on July 31 on the Bill613.com Facebook page, which features news mainly from the Montreal Orthodox community.

Bill613 manager Zvi Hershcovich also provided an account of what happened, based on information from the alleged physical assault victim.

After the taxi driver dropped a person off near the entrance to the underground parking garage, he remained there, blocking the entrance, according to Hershcovich.

“Aaron,” who does not want his name publicized but is known to Hershcovich, had come to the building to visit his parents. He was parked nearby while he waited for an outdoor spot to become available, according to the Bill613 account.

“As he waited, he watched as a car driven by a Jewish man wearing a kippah pulled up behind the taxi and honked. According to Aaron, the driver of the taxi shouted, ‘I won’t move for any f–ing Jews!’ He then told Aaron to move his car. Aaron, who was in his car facing the taxi, asked the driver to please move for the vehicle behind him, and told him that he could get the message across without using insults,” wrote Hershcovich.

“According to Aaron, the driver immediately started shouting in English and Arabic (two languages Aaron speaks): ‘I’ll never move for you f–ing dirty Jews! I’m going to f–ing kill you!’ At that point a parking spot opened and a female supervisor from the condos motioned that Aaron should park.”

He moved into the spot and got out to take a photo of the taxi’s license number.

“As soon as he snapped a picture the driver stormed out his taxi and began physically assaulting Aaron. He reportedly shoved Aaron against a car, put him in a headlock, and punched him in his chest and face at least 10 times before the parking supervisor intervened,” Hershcovich alleges.

“Aaron is a short man and the driver was tall and well built. The driver allegedly kept shouting anti-Semitic slurs and threatening to murder Aaron as he beat him. He also smashed Aaron’s phone on the ground, breaking it.

“The woman who intervened was also reportedly struck by the taxi driver who only left after another taxi driver told him to stop.”

According to the Bill613 account, Aaron was bleeding and in terrible pain, especially in the chest. After stopping at his parents, he went to hospital. He filed a police report, a complaint with Champlain and contacted B’nai Brith.

B’nai Brith chief executive officer Michael Mostyn said that, “This is a shocking anti-Semitic hate crime, in which someone could (have) been gravely injured or even killed.”

Rabbi Reuben Poupko, CIJA’s Quebec co-chair, stated that, “We are gratified by Champlain Taxi’s swift and substantive response to this alleged anti-Semitic incident and are relieved to find out that the taxi driver in question has been fired and is having his taxi license revoked. CIJA and Federation CJA have been in contact with the SPVM (Montreal police service) and are confident that … it will be thoroughly investigated and, as the case may be, prosecuted.”

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