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May 19, 2023 12:03 pm

Toronto Jews Are Most Victimized Minority Group In City, New Report Says


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Illustrative Antisemitic graffiti on a sign outside the courthouse in Ottawa, Canada, c. 2021. Photo: Campaign Against Antisemitism.

The number of antisemitic hate crimes in Toronto, Canada recorded in 2022 remained above pre-pandemic levels even as hate crimes declined overall, according to a new Hate Crime Statistical Report issued by Toronto Police Service (TPS).

63 incidents targeting members of the Jewish community occurred, the report said, a 50 percent increase from 2020, when there were 42. Additionally, Jews were victims in 25 percent of reported hate crimes despite being only three and a half percent of the city’s population. Blacks and LBGTQ identifying persons were the second and third most targeted groups, with hate crimes against them exceeding pre-pandemic levels also.

Most antisemitic hate crimes, 51, fell under TPS’s “mischief under $5,000” category, which represents crime against property. Others recorded include two incidents of assault and harassing communications, as well as one death threat and assault with a weapon.

“There is an observed increase in antisemitic hate crime in Canada and in major US cities over the past several years,” the report explained. “There are multiple factors that could be contributing to this increase, including political polarization and an increase in conspiracy theories and propaganda targeting the Jewish community.”

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On Thursday, Abraham Global Peace Initiative, a nonprofit that promotes awareness of antisemitism, said TPS’ data is “disconcerting,” noting that the number of hate crimes in Toronto is “74 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels and 40 percent higher than the ten year average.”

Last September, the city of Toronto launched the “Toronto For All” campaign to encourage citizens to “confront” and “eliminate” antisemitism and other bigotries. Literature stressing the importance of reporting hate crimes and supporting victims of antisemitism was distributed to the public while city officials put up messaging in high traffic locations.

The initiative followed disturbing incidents throughout the city.

In May, an Uber Eats deliveryman drove up to Toronto’s Yeshiva Gedolah, accosting students and saying he would “kill 30 Jews today.” The disturbing scene was witnessed by the school’s cook, who was punched in the face after asking the man to leave. Just two months later, in July, the Hate Crimes Division of Toronto arrested a man for spraying near York University a graffiti image of a Jew with sidelocks and a Star of David inside crosshairs next to a message that says, “Shoot a Jew in the head.”

Antisemitic hate crimes in Canada overall reached record highs for six consecutive years before decreasing by one percent in 2022, according to an annual audit B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish rights advocacy group, issued in April. The year still saw the most antisemitic incidents since the group began tracking them in 1982, with nearly 8 occurring every day.

“We are alarmed and disturbed by the figures in this audit,” B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn said in a press release on the day of the audit’s release. “Although there was an almost insignificant decrease from last year, antisemitic incidents continue to occur at an unacceptable and dangerous pace. Frankly, the amount of hate directed at Canadian Jews is shameful.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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