Anti-Semitism 'becoming mainstream' in Canada: Jewish advocacy group
Hasidic Jewish men walk along Bernard Street in Outremont, in Montreal on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)
Incidents of anti-Semitism were on the rise for a fifth straight year in Canada, despite an overall decline in the number of incidents worldwide, according to a Jewish advocacy group.
The analysis, which was conducted by Amanda Hohman and Aidan Fishman of B’Nai Brith Canada, suggests anti-Semitism “is becoming mainstream,” based on a number of highly public incidents that occurred in 2017. “While final numbers for 2017 have not been compiled, there is no doubt that the five-year trend of elevated levels of anti-Semitism is continuing,” Hohman and Fishman write. Their perspective on Canada is included in a draft analysis of worldwide anti-Semitism in 2017, which was released by Tel Aviv University’s Kanton Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry.
The report complies data on hate-related incidents against Jewish people, as compiled by Jewish advocacy groups in each country. Groups were encouraged to consider expressions of hate through various forms, including mail, social media, verbal insults, harassment and violence.
The worldwide report says there was an overall nine per cent decrease in the number of anti-Semitic incidents of violence, according to its criteria, from 2016 to 2017. However, the report adds that those numbers are preliminary and do not include several violent cases in France, which are still under investigation.
“It should be emphasized that some of the recent violent cases have been perpetrated more brutally, causing more harm,” the report says. It also suggests social media has played a significant role in the spread of anti-Semitic sentiment. “The public discourse is increasingly found on social media, which magnifies and distributes every utterance and event in a matter of seconds,” the report says.
Hohman and Fishman say Canada has seen a rise of anti-Semitism in all its forms online, at public protests, in politics, on university campuses and in several “brazen” public assaults. “Anti-Semitic incidents and attacks spanned the political spectrum, ranging from the far-right to the far-left, with significant contributions from Islamic and Arab nationalists as well.”
They cite a number of incidents in the report, including anti-Semitic graffiti at schools north of Toronto, several “Hitler was right” messages scrawled on Toronto-area highways, a threatening anti-Semitic message left for a Jewish family in Winnipeg on New Year’s Eve and a menacing photo mailed to 13 synagogues at Hanukkah, which carried the message “Jewry must perish!”
The report also cites a number of anti-Semitic messages at protests over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Hohman and Fishman also highlighted problematic incidents at McGill University, Ryerson University and McMaster University.
“All levels of government need to do better in order to stem the tide of anti-Semitism, which remains one of the most pervasive forms of hatred and discrimination in Canada,” Hohman and Fishman write.
The United States also registered an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, according to an audit conducted by the American Anti-Defamation League and included in the Kantor report. The ADL says it observed a 57 per cent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 over the year before, making it “the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking such data in 1979.” It adds that the number of physical assaults was down, but all other forms of anti-Semitism were up.
B’Nai Brith Canada’s official report has not yet been released.