Canada is not immune to the global trend of rising anti-Semitism, according to a new report for B’nai Brith.
The Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, presented on Monday, found 2018 saw a 16.5 per cent increase in anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and violence with 2,041 recorded incidents compared to 1,752 incidents in 2017.
“Our primary concern with the trend we are observing is that this may be indicating a new normal in terms of the propagation of anti-Semitism in Canada, along the same pattern of growth in anti-Semitism that has been observed in Europe and elsewhere in the world, ” Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, explained.
The report found that 80 per cent of harassment reported to B’nai Brith was from online communication — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, email and others — and ranged from malicious sentiments to threats of violence and calls for genocide.
Mostyn said this faceless, online form of harassment is favoured because of the anonymity it affords the users and the “ease in which online mediums can be utilized to target Jewish individuals.”
According to the report, some of the harassment experienced by Canadians last year included a group of teens shooting lit fireworks at Hasidic Jews in Quebec, two Saskatchewan elementary school students being harassed and beaten by their peers, a group of Orthodox students in Toronto being assaulted on the streets, a Winnipeg high school student being mocked for her “Jewish nose” as well as having family members die in the Holocaust, a Manitoba woman being threatened in an anonymous phone call and a 13-year-old Toronto student harassed by a peer who threatened to “shoot up a Jewish school” and told her to “go back into the ovens.”
The largest amount of recorded incidents of anti-Semitism were found in Ontario and Quebec – the two provinces with the biggest Jewish communities. However, there was a notable increase in other parts of Canada.
The report found Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nunavut experienced the largest relative growth in anti-Semitism between 2017 and 2018, with reported cases more than doubling from 54 to 131. An increase was also seen in British Columbia and even in the combined Atlantic provinces, where the Jewish population is relatively low.
These findings come one day after a home in Vaughan was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.