Toronto Jewish organizations demand action in response to anti-Semitism

UJA and CIJA urge authorities to take strong, concrete action in response to rise in anti-Semitism targeting the local Jewish community.

Elad Benari ,

Toronto
Toronto
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UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) on Thursday urged authorities to take strong, concrete action in response to a documented rise in anti-Semitism targeting the local Jewish community over the past month.

In a statement, the two organizations noted that more than 50 anti-Semitic incidents have been reported to-date in May – five times the previous monthly average for 2021.

A new report by UJA Community Security said that this five-fold spike in reported anti-Semitic incidents in the GTA is clearly tied to recent, renewed hostilities between Israel and Hamas, and the resulting increase in anti-Israel activism across Canada.

In an unprecedented decision, UJA Community Security has decided to publicly release this data in a report containing real examples of incidents submitted by community members through UJA Community Security’s 24/7 hotline and website.

Disturbing examples of these recent anti-Semitic incidents include hateful graffiti targeting the parking lot of a synagogue and Jewish daycare; a Jewish customer verbally harassed and chased out of a retail business for being Jewish; a Jewish father and his young child verbally harassed on the street with antisemitic slurs, including comments that they should have been “gassed” and “burned”; mock eviction notices posted on the doors of multiple Jewish homes, as part of an anti-Israel boycott campaign; and, a family verbally harassed by occupants of a vehicle flying a Palestinian flag, calling the family “baby killers”.

“Over the past few weeks, we have seen a critical mass of incidents that overwhelmingly confirm that our Toronto Jewish community has experienced an alarming surge in anti-Semitism,” says Adam Minsky, President & CEO of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. “This isn’t the first time that escalations in the Israel-Hamas conflict have been used as an excuse to spread hatred of Jews. But the volume and vicious nature of the recent incidents we’ve seen right here in our city should be a wake-up call for all Canadians. As UJA Community Security continues working to protect our community in close cooperation with police, we encourage community members to adopt a sense of healthy vigilance. If you see something concerning, please say something.”

“We are witnessing a dangerous rise in antisemitism manifesting in our communities as well as in online spaces, where we are spending a significant amount of time due to the pandemic,” said Noah Shack, GTA Vice President at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

“History has taught us that what starts with Jews, never ends with Jews. Combating antisemitism is not only about protecting Jews; it is essential to insulating all of us from the threat hatred poses to the very fabric of our society.”

“We are calling for the Government of Canada to convene an emergency summit on antisemitism to bring together all levels of government to address this troubling situation. We need a true all-of-government effort to establish a comprehensive program to combat Jew-hatred – the oldest and most enduring hate the world has ever experienced.”

Thursday’s statement comes several days after B’nai Brith Canada reported that for the third week in a row, anti-Semitism and support for terrorism were on display Saturday at a massive protest in downtown Toronto.

Over a thousand anti-Israel demonstrators marched from Yonge-Dundas Square to the Israeli consulate at Yonge and Bloor, shouting repeatedly for an “intifada.”

At least one protester carried the flag of Hamas, while others carried signs with anti-Semitic imagery, such as one depicting Israeli Jews as pigs, and another equating the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) with the Nazi SS. Organizers also bizarrely asserted at one point that “Canada is a part of Israel.”

Last week, at another downtown Toronto protest held by the PYM, attendees threatened Jews by recalling the Battle of Khaybar, in which the ancient Jewish community of Arabia was killed or expelled.

Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in Canada in recent years. In late March, Statistics Canada released its annual survey of police-reported hate crimes which found that Jews have remained by far the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in Canada.

The Statistics Canada report found that there were 1,946 police-reported hate crimes in Canada in 2019, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

Last month, Toronto Police Service and the Regional Municipality of York Police Services Board released a report finding that in 2020, reported hate crimes in Toronto increased by more than 50%, while reported hate crimes in York Region increased by 20%.



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