B’nai Brith Canada on Sunday expressed concern after two Jewish boys were assaulted in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area Jewish community.
The incident occurred on Saturday afternoon, when two boys wearing kippot were walking near the Garnet A. Williams Community Centre in Thornhill, north of Toronto.
The two boys were approached by another youth who began swearing at them from behind. As the Jewish boys tried to leave the area, the youth punched one of the Jewish boys in the face and proceeded to follow him and his friend for some distance before fleeing the scene.
The victims were unable to record the incident because it took place on the Sabbath, when observant Jews do not carry electronic devices such as cellphones.
One of the victims later visited the emergency department to seek treatment for his injuries, said a statement from B’nai Brith.
On Sunday, B’nai Brith representatives spoke to one of the victims and his parents, and is proud to have received the family’s trust to advocate exclusively on their behalf. The York Regional Police Hate Crimes Unit is now investigating the incident.
“This is an extremely serious incident, and we trust that law enforcement will give it the attention that it deserves,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.
“It is inconceivable that Jewish families will be afraid to send their children to the park, in a heavily Jewish neighborhood, on the Jewish Sabbath,” he added.
Saturday’s attack followed an anti-Semitic attack in Montreal last week in which a Jewish man was assaulted by a taxi driver amid a barrage of anti-Semitic slurs.
The victim was visiting his elderly parents at a condo building in the Saint-Laurent borough of Montreal.
While waiting for a cab to stop blocking the underground garage, the victim heard the taxi driver shout, “I won’t move for any f***ing Jews!” The driver then allegedly threatened to kill the victim, who was visibly identifiable as a Jew because he wears a kippah.
The victim then attempted to photograph the taxi number in order to file a complaint, at which point the driver exited his car and punched him repeatedly until a parking supervisor intervened. The victim’s phone was also smashed.
Much of the incident was captured on a nearby security camera. The victim was injured and had to go to a nearby emergency room for treatment.
Data released by Statistics Canada late last month found that Canadian Jews were the most targeted group for hate crimes in 2018, a trend continuing from the previous two years.
In total, police across Canada reported 347 hate crimes targeting Jews in 2018, down marginally from the 2017 figure of 360. However, anti-Jewish hate crimes amounted to 19% of the national total, even though Jews account for only about 1% of the Canadian population.
The report was consistent with B’nai Brith’s 2018 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. The Audit found an overall increase in the number of incidents in 2018, but a slight decrease in cases of vandalism and violence, which are more likely to be recorded by police as hate crimes than cases of harassment.