Vaughan, Ontario
Vaughan, Ontario iStock

The mayor of Vaughan, Ontario, a city that has the highest density of Jews in the Toronto area and the largest population of Israelis in Canada, is speaking out against antisemitism.

“Antisemitism has no place in Vaughan,” Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua said in a statement made after he chaired the Ontario Municipal Leaders Summit on Antisemitism, an event sponsored by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), according to the Toronto Star.

“We continue to stand up against all forms of hate, systemic racism and intolerance, yet we understand that our community is not immune from hate-motivated violence,” Bevilacqua added.

Responding to recent antisemitic incidents, including Nazi graffiti found on park signs in neighbouring Markham, Bevilacqua stressed that antisemitism needs to be “tackle[d] head on.”

"We cannot sit idly by as discrimination continues to undermine our collective well-being,” he said. “The city continues to condemn all forms of racism and remains committed to defending diversity, inclusion and human rights.”

He noted that Vaughan, which is the twin city of Ramla, is “home to one of the largest Jewish communities outside of Israel.”

Vaughan has been “positively influenced by the social, cultural and economic contributions of the Jewish community,” Bevilacqua said.

He added that Vaughan “shares a strong and enduring relationship with the State of Israel.”

In response, Noah Shack, Vice President, GTA of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said: “Still fresh in our mind, the hostage-taking in Texas is a chilling reminder of the dangerous threat of antisemitism and the pressing need to act before horrific incidents of violence occur. Today’s Summit sends a powerful message to Jewish Ontarians that their neighbourhood, their municipality, and their province is their home."

“We are grateful to all the city leaders who attended and to Mayor Bevilacqua for chairing today’s summit and launching the Ontario Municipal Leaders’ Pledge." Shack added, "We look forward to other mayors joining this initiative and continuing to take concrete steps to fight antisemitism, sending a clear message that antisemitism has no place in our municipalities.”