Canada continues to struggle with record-high levels of antisemitism, according to The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents.
The audit documented 1,297 reported antisemitic incidents across Canada in 2011. Although this marked a decrease of .7% from the previous year, Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, said the organization “can take no consolation from the negligible decrease…when the antisemitism targeting Canadian Jews remains at such all-time high levels.”
Incidents of vandalism – “attacks on synagogues, school and Jewish cemeteries” – rose 14.2%, while violence fell by 20.8% and cases of harassment dropped by 5.1%.
The true gravity of the problem in Canada is better understood, said Diment, by observing long-term trends: antisemitic incidents have grown twenty-fold since B’nai Brith started monitoring antisemitism thirty years ago, “while a five-year view shows a 24.6% rise.” He also noted that “the Jewish community is the most targeted minority in hate crimes motivated by religion.
“Thirty years after the enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we continue to see rocks being thrown at synagogue and school windows, deaths threats being sent via social media, visible Jews being taunted and physically assaulted on route to their homes and places of worship and even a young Jewish girl’s hair being set on fire.”
Ontario, the most populous province in Canada and home to Canada’s largest Jewish community in Toronto, saw a decrease of 3.7% in incidents from 2010. The province of Manitoba, which has a tight-knit Jewish community in Winnipeg, experienced a 30% increase over the same period. In Montreal, home to Canada’s second-largest Jewish community, the 303 reported incidents represented an increase of 9.4%.
There is little indication that the numbers would drop significantly in 2012, as the Montreal Gazette recently reported that “[i]n mid-April 2012, about 15 of the 50 Jewish owned homes in Val Morin [a town outside Montreal] were vandalized. At least two of the homes were defaced with anti-Jewish hate messages and swastikas.”
The audit seems to echo the conclusions of a similar study in Europe when it states that “a global propaganda movement that attempts to re-cast Jews as ‘oppressors,’ ‘colonialists’ and ‘despoilers’ in the Middle East” has the practical effect of inflaming hatred against Jews in Canada.
Nevertheless, Dimant expressed appreciation that “all levels of government [in Canada] work with B’nai Brith and its League for Human Rights to suppress antisemitism throughout the country.” Indeed, the numbers do not square with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s staunch support for Israel and the Jewish people, nor his unequivocal condemnation of exactly the kind of anti-Israel propaganda that the audit cites as inflaming prejudice against Canadian Jews. What’s more, a February 2012 poll found that nearly half of all Canadians expressed support for his government’s Middle East policy.