Concordia University Netanyahu riot

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The Concordia University Netanyahu riot occurred on September 9, 2002, as a result of a scheduled visit from the then former (and now current) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The visit was cancelled after Montreal police (SPVM) and pro-Palestinian protestors clashed inside the Henry F. Hall Building at Concordia University.[1]

For the duration of the standoff, ticket-holders pushed their way through a thick crowd of protesters and police outside the building, entering the Hall building through a secured access point complete with metal detector. They were then escorted to the auditorium where the lecture was to take place. Ticket holders later complained that the protesters had subjected them to antisemitic slogans and even physical attacks. Holocaust survivor Thomas Hecht was kicked in the groin by protesters and a local Rabbi Howard Joseph and his wife Norma were physically assaulted and spat on.[2][3]

Shortly after ticket holders were escorted into the Hall building the large window front that protestors and bystanders were banging on shattered, prompting a police officer to immediately discharge pepper spray through the window of the Hall building. The spray entered the building's ventilation system forcing an evacuation of the entire building. At approximately the same time, a second window on the building's first floor, on the western side was broken when protesters threw a metal barricade into it.

The immediate result of the protest and subsequent evacuation was the cancellation of the lecture. The university instituted additional measures to avert future incidents, including the banning of any events related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for one month, as well as enabling the use of new student disciplinary rules in case of emergency.

Five demonstrators were arrested,[4] and an additional 12 faced internal disciplinary hearings under the University's Code of Rights and Responsibilities[5]

Netanyahu was not present at the protest, having remained at Montreal's Ritz-Carlton Hotel throughout the duration. He later accused the activists of supporting terrorism and "mad zealotry."[6]

The National Film Board of Canada documentary Discordia, produced by Adam Symansky, documents the fallout from the "Concordia riot" by following three young Concordia campus activists.[7][8] In 2003 GlobalTV also aired the documentary Confrontation at Concordia, produced by Martin Himmel.

Raymond Beauchemin, a 1992 Concordia University graduate (MA, English), wrote a novel, These Days Are Nights, inspired by the events of the protest.


  1. Canadian Press (January 15, 2003). "Concordia U. regrets anti-Netanyahu riot". Archived from the original on 1 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  2. Martin Himmel. Confrontation at Concordia (documentary).  Transcript[dead link] (Appendix A to CIII-TV (Global Television) re Confrontation at Concordia (CBSC Decision 02/03-1340, -1368, -1514 and -1530, April 26, 2004))
  3. Anti-Israeli Activity at Concordia University 2000-2003 by Corinne Berzon, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, September 25, 2008.
  4. Canada protests stop Netanyahu speech. 10 September 2002. BBC World News.
  5. Concordia University Press Release. 31 October 2002.
  6. "Montreal protests thwart Netanyahu speech". CTV. September 10, 2002. Retrieved September 29, 2009. 
  7. Discordia, National Film Board of Canada. Online video.
  8. Discordia (2004) at the Internet Movie Database