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Jewish Defence League expanding to Montreal

A Jewish activist group described by some critics as ultra-nationalist and radical is setting up a branch in Montreal.

The Jewish Defence League of Canada said it's responding to calls from Jewish Montrealers who are concerned about increased anti-semitic incidents linked to the Middle East conflict.

"There's been an upsurge in attacks and threats against members of the Jewish community and they want to have a different strategy in how to tackle this problem," national director in Canada Meir Weinstein said in an interview from Toronto.

The group has been criticized for its in-your-face-tactics such as showing up at pro-palestinian protests. The group also offers self-defence courses in the Jewish community.

"For anyone who says we are ultra-nationalist, I'm not exactly sure what they mean. We're proud to be Canadians and we uphold Canadian law and we support the state of Israel," said Weinstein.

"Confrontation is part of it. In the words of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, anti-semitism must be exposed and confronted and that's what we do."

Rabbi Reuben Pupko of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said local groups already have a good working relationship with police and they don't need an outside group to agitate.

"There is nothing to be gained from a street confrontation," Pupko said.

"There is no need for an outside group. The Jewish community of Montreal is able to take care of itself and the police have been more than effective in securing the interests of the community."

Weinstein said they are not looking to replace any group. Pupko said they are not a fan of their tactics.

"All responsible voices are certainly beneficial. It's questionable whether the JDL represents a responsible voice," Pupko said.

"There have been times in the past when they've taken matters into their own hands that are better left to the police."

League officials are meeting in Montreal this Sunday.

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