Toronto bus shelter (illustration)
Toronto bus shelter (illustration)iStock

An investigation is underway after a bus shelter in Toronto was vandalized with a poster promoting anti-Semitic blood libel on the eve of Passover, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) said in a statement on Monday.

FSWC immediately reported the poster - which read "Israel's killing children again... Enjoy your weekend" - to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Special Constable Service.

The poster, in the area of Keele Street and Sheppard Avenue West, was spotted on Saturday afternoon by a member of the Jewish community who notified FSWC.

The TTC notified Toronto police, who were immediately at the scene investigating the incident and having the poster removed.

"It is no coincidence that somebody chose the eve of Passover to not only spread false accusations against Israel but also promote the anti-Semitic blood libel trope, just as Jews throughout the city, and around the world, were preparing to observe this important holiday," said FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt.

"This vandalism is very disturbing and a clear attack on the Jewish community. We are thankful that both the TTC and Toronto Police Service were quick to respond and launch an investigation, and we are hopeful that the culprit will be found," he added.

Blood libel refers to the anti-Semitic canard, which has been used to demonize and vilify Jews around the world, that Jews murder non-Jewish children to use their blood for ritual purposes, such as to bake matzah for Passover.

Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in Canada in recent years. In 2019, the League for Human Rights, part of B’nai Brith Canada, recorded 2,207 anti-Semitic incidents.

Last May, a swastika and the words "all heil Hitler" were found drawn in chalk on a Toronto school located in an area with a large Jewish population.

Last April, a spate of anti-Semitic graffiti in the downtown Toronto area appeared to blame the COVID-19 pandemic on “the Jews.”

That month, a Judaica store in Toronto that had been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak was broken into and vandalized.