Vandalism at Indigo book store in Toronto
Vandalism at Indigo book store in TorontoFriends of Simon Wiesenthal Center

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) said on Thursday that is dismayed by the recent spike in antisemitic incidents reported in Toronto since the October 7 massacre committed by Hamas in Israel.

FSWC cited Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw, who revealed a 192 percent increase in the number of reported antisemitic incidents between October 7 and November 20 compared to the same period last year.

Of the 78 hate crimes reported during this period – a more than 110 percent increase from the 37 incidents that occurred during the same period in 2022 – 38 were antisemitic, compared to 13 in 2022, and 17 targeted Muslims and Arabs, compared to 1 in 2022.

“The numbers are deeply unsettling but not surprising as FSWC receives multiple reports of antisemitism from members of the Jewish community almost every day,” said FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt.

“The latest rise in tensions in Toronto and beyond is unprecedented, as the Jewish community especially has suffered an alarming increase in unjustifiable hate. We appreciate the efforts of Toronto police to keep our community safe, including the placement of mobile command posts and providing the necessary resources to investigate hate crimes. There must be zero tolerance for the divisiveness and hate we are seeing on the streets of Toronto today. We must never allow the safe spaces of our Jewish community to be diminished,” he added.

The Toronto Police Service stated that given the current reality, it has increased the size of its Hate Crime Unit from six officers to a team of 21 investigators, eight Special Constables and an analyst and researcher.

Recent incidents in Toronto include threats to the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, a Jewish high school in the district of North York.

Last week, the school was targeted again when it was briefly evacuated following a bomb threat.

Other incidents include graffiti depicting the Star of David smeared with red paint to symbolize blood and words such as “Free Palestine” and “Soaked in Blood” above the symbol.

In another incident, an anti-Israel rally targeted Café Landwer, a Jewish-owned restaurant chain, in downtown Toronto, with protesters yelling “boycott” and accusing it of being a “Zionist café.”

Two weeks ago, an Indigo book store in downtown Toronto was vandalized with red paint and posters plastered on its front windows wrongfully accusing its Jewish founder and CEO, Heather Reisman, of “Funding Genocide.”

On Thursday, the Toronto Police Service announced its arrest of 11 suspects in connection with the antisemitic vandalism at the Indigo store. The incident is being treated as a suspected hate-motivated offense.