Definition of anti-Semitism
Definition of anti-SemitismiStock

Statistics Canada's release Tuesday of police-reported hate crimes for 2016 shows a 3% jump from 2015 due to increased targeting of specific groups, including the Jewish community.

The Jewish community was the most targeted group in 2016, accounting for 16% of all hate crimes across Canada.

The report reveals that 221 police-reported hate crimes - 148 of which took place in Ontario - were against the Jewish community in 2016, up from 178 hate crimes in 2015. The African-Canadian community was the second-most targeted, while the Muslim community saw a decrease in incidents.

"This is, unfortunately, not shocking to learn, as the Jewish community has always been the target of anti-Semitic and hateful attacks - often through vandalism, graffiti and hate speech - despite making up just over 1% of the Canadian population," said Avi Benlolo, President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC).

"It's important to note that many incidents go unreported or are marked as mischief by police, meaning the number of hate crimes that take place is actually higher than what is reported.

"Just this past month, we have witnessed swastikas being drawn on numerous buildings and even in front of a Jewish school north of Toronto, neo-Nazi posters found on university campuses, and the words 'Heil Hitler' drawn on a university chalkboard. With the increase in extremist activity on our streets, it is more important than ever that we commit to not allowing anti-Semitism to fester and not allow anti-Semitic groups to hide behind false narratives."

FSWC tracks and counters anti-Semitism across the country, ensuring incidents are reported to local police. Most recently, FSWC fielded complaints from the public about content found in the anti-Semitic and hate-ridden publication Your Ward News, which eventually led to hate crime charges against the editor and publisher.

Through its educational programs - including Tour for Humanity, Freedom Day and the National Policy Conference on Holocaust Education - the Center works towards promoting tolerance and human rights in communities across Canada.