Police in the Canadian city of Victoria, British Columbia, are looking for suspects after the Chabad Centre for Jewish Life and Learning was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti on Tuesday, CBC reports.
Staff at the center called the Victoria Police Department on Tuesday when they found the graffiti on the building in the 2900-block of Glasgow Street.
Staff cleaned the messages away. Two suspects were captured on surveillance video tagging the center, police said in a statement.
Police did not provide details about what was tagged on the building, but did confirm hate crimes investigators are involved.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) condemned the incident, which occurred just prior to Holocaust Remembrance Day.
FSWC said in a statement that the words “Kill Jews” and “Gas Jews” were found drawn in front of the Chabad Centre for Jewish Life and Learning.
“As Jewish communities and many others commemorate the six million victims of the Holocaust who were murdered simply because they were Jewish, it is extremely shocking and sickening to see such graffiti,” said Michael Levitt, president and CEO of FSWC, who spoke with Chabad Centre’s Rabbi Meir Kaplan today to offer support and assistance.
“Members of the Jewish community should feel safe going to their local Chabad center, or any community center or place of worship, without being subjected to such a vile attack. The Jewish community will not be intimidated and will continue to fight the hate and bigotry that continue to exist in this country,” Levitt added.
A recent report by Statistics Canada found that Jews have remained by far the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in Canada in 2019.
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.
In particular, some 608 hate crimes targeted religion, down 7 percent compared to 2018. This number, however, remains higher than those recorded before 2017, when it hit its peak at 842 incidents.
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.
Toronto Police recently launched an investigation after a bus shelter in Toronto was vandalized with a poster promoting anti-Semitic blood libel on the eve of Passover.
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.”