Police investigating possible antisemitic hate symbol at Ottawa Jewish school

An upside down red arrow is spray painted on a black and white sign outside of a Jewish school.
A sign outside of the Ottawa Jewish School was tested by vandals. Ottawa Police are investigating to see if it’s a hate crime. X photo by Howard Fremeth.

By Charlie Senack

Ottawa Police are investigating after a controversial red triangle was painted outside a Glabar Park Jewish School. 

The symbol, seen by some as a target and others as a sign of resistance, was painted on a sign outside of Ottawa Jewish Community School on Nadolny Sachs Private near Carling June 20. It’s also popped up on signs at the pro-Palestine encampment at the University of Ottawa and in propaganda videos by terrorism group Hamas. 

David Sachs, who is an anti-semetism specialist in community relations at the Ottawa Jewish Federation of Ottawa, said the upside down triangle is being taken as a violent threat against the Jewish community. 

“Marking the grounds of a Jewish school, daycare and nursing home with a target is not political expression, it is incitement of terrorism,” Sachs told KT. “Violence against Canadian Jews has skyrocketed along with the violent language of the anti-Israel, pro-terror protests. We have warned for years that the anti-Israel movement and the politicians who support it, tolerate hate and incite antisemitism. Now we see Jews across Canada [getting] attacked.”

Ottawa Police confirmed to KT that its Hate and Bias Crime Unit is aware of the incident and will examine the matter further to determine if the symbol is linked to any hate-motivated group or entity.

A police cruiser parked outside of a building.
A police cruiser parked outside of the Ottawa Jewish Centre in October 2023. File photo by Charlie Senack.

Rise in hate crimes 

Since conflict in the Middle East broke out on Oct. 7, there were 71 hate-motivated crimes reported in Ottawa between that period and Dec. 2, a number that is almost certain to be higher now as the war and division intensified. Out of those incidents, police state 57 were deemed to be criminal. It’s a 238 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2022. 

“The Jewish, Muslim, Black, South Asian, LGBTQ2+ communities are most targeted,” a police spokesperson said in a statement. “A total of 55 incidents (of the 71 reported) targeted the Jewish and Muslim community; and 41 of these were deemed criminal.”

In late October 2023 the Ottawa Jewish School was targeted by a bomb threat, forcing the building to evacuate. In the last month, three Jewish schools in Canada have been shot at alongside a Jewish restaurant, and a Vancouver synagogue was firebombed. 

Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden, who’s been a supporter of Palestine during the conflict, condemned the painted symbol saying hatred and intimidation is never ok. 

“This is an alarming trend across Ontario, and it’s horrible at a Jewish school in Ottawa today,” Harden wrote. “We have to accept each other, value each other, and heal our communities.”

UOttawa encampment still stands two months on 

For over two months, supporters of Palestine have set up an encampment on the front lawn of UOttawa’s Tabaret Hall. 

The sit-in was first organized on April 29 when students demanded the university disclose its investments and part ways with organizations that have funded Israeli defense operations — including Scotiabank. That has not happened and the rows of tents remain. 

Over the past few weeks UOttawa said it’s been in “constructive” talks with the demonstrators, but a recent proposal was rejected. Protesters called it “laughable.” 

In an Instagram post, Integrity Not Spite Against Falastin (INSAF) said the proposal was full of “bureaucracies and promises of vague consideration and exercises.” 

Signs and banners are hung in two large boxes.
Signs at the pro Palestinian UOttawa encampment. Photo by Charlie Senack.

UOttawa gave organizers a date to end the encampment by or else they would be considered trespassing, yet no further action has been taken. Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod has declined a meeting with the school until the demonstrators are removed. 

Sachs from the Ottawa Jewish Federation of Ottawa said the encampment is a threat to Jewish students and a source of hate. 

“It’s sickening that they are allowed to take over a part of a university. They have had someone wearing a Hamas flag, they’ve had graffiti to Globalize the Intifada, which means bring terror to Canada,” he said. 

During graduation ceremonies at both UOttawa and Carleton Universities, some students walked down the aisle with Palestinian flags in tow or wearing keffiyehs — a scarf which has become a symbol of nationalism since the Oct. 7 conflict. 

At Carleton, students were told ahead of time that signs or flags would not be allowed, however that didn’t stop some from rebelling. A live video of the ceremony was cut anytime students didn’t obey. 

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