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August 3, 2022 2:46 pm

Dramatic Rise in Antisemitic Hate Crimes Unnerves Canadian Jewish Community

avatar by Ben Cohen

Pro-Palestinian protesters are held back by police separating them from a small group of Israel supporters in front of city hall in Toronto,May 15, 2021. Photo: Reuters/Chris Helgren

Antisemitic incidents in Canada soared by 47 percent in 2021 according to newly-released government statistics, marking out Jews as the country’s most vulnerable religious minority when it comes to hate crimes.

Figures on crime released on Tuesday by Statistics Canada, a government agency, showed that attacks on members of the Black and Jewish communities formed the majority of the hate crimes reported to police.

Attacks on religious minorities rose by 67 percent overall, with a 47 percent increase in the case of Canadian Jews. “Statistically, this reflects 1.3 in a thousand members of Canada’s Jewish community reporting having been the target of a hate crime in 2021,” observed Canadian Jewish advocacy organization CIJA in a commentary on the findings.

Canadian Jews “remain the most targeted religious minority for hate crime and second overall,” CIJA said. “There are approximately 380,000 Jews in Canada, representing only one percent of the population, yet members of the Jewish community were victims of 14 percent of all reported hate crime in 2021.”

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CIJA’s president, Shimon Koffler Fogel, noted that “Canadian Jews were more than 10 times more likely than any other Canadian religious minority to report being the target of a hate crime. This is alarming.”

Physical assaults, vandalism and insults targeting Jews were all registered among litany of antisemitic hate crimes. In May 2021, renewed fighting between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza sparked angry pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Canada, as in other countries, that frequently spilled into open antisemitism. B’nai Brith Canada, another Jewish communal organization, recorded over 250 outrages across the month that included 154 incidents of harassment, 51 incidents of vandalism, and 61 incidents of violence. Among the “noteworthy” incidents cited by the group were a rally in Montreal at which Jewish demonstrators were attacked with rocks; death threats hurled at an Israeli restauranteur in Vancouver; and public calls for violence against Jews made by protesters driving through Calgary.

The antisemitic vandalism of candidates’ election posters during last year’s electoral campaign was another significant worry faced by the community. In August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led the calls for solidarity with his two fellow-Liberal Party candidates — sitting MPs Anthony Housefather and Rachel Bendayan — after swastikas were discovered scrawled on their posters in their respective ridings, or parliamentary constituencies, of Mount Royal and Outremont in Montreal. Separately during the same month, vandals targeted a Jewish school in Montreal and a synagogue in Toronto.

At the end of last month, Jews in Toronto expressed disbelief at the release of an individual dubbed “Swastika Man” who was arrested three times during 2021 for three separate antisemitic incidents, all of which involved violence against his victims. The man in question, Michael Park, who displayed a black swastika drawn on his bare chest, is currently on probation. Park is not allowed within 10 meters (32 feet) of a synagogue or other Jewish institution and is banned from owning weapons and consuming cannabis and other drugs.

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