|ANTISEMITIC INCIDENTS IN CANADA DOUBLE SINCE 2001
|For Immediate Release, March 11, 2004
|Toronto - The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada has just released the 2003 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, its
annual study on antisemitism in this country.
The Audit indicates that antisemitic activity in Canada is still on the rise, with a 27.2% increase country-wide in 2003 compared
to 2002. In total, 584 incidents were reported, which is the highest number in the twenty-one year history of the Audit.
This increase is all the more disturbing given that it follows 459 incidents in 2002, which represented a 60% increase over the
previous year (2001). This means the number of reported incidents doubled from 2001 to 2003 (104%).
Rochelle Wilner, National President of B'nai Brith Canadda, stated: "The victim impact statements included in the Audit
demonstrate the lasting harmful effects of antisemitism. In spite of this, over the past few years, the bar has been raised on what
victims themselves, as well as society in general, are prepared to tolerate. A process of desensitization, both within and outside
the Jewish community, has meant that what was once seen as offensive and unacceptable is now being viewed as less serious and
even routine. Visibly orthodox Jews in particular have come to view such harassment as inevitable."
Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President, commented: "We note that 30 of the incidents involved face-to-face encounters with
persons of apparent Arab origin. The current tensions between Jews and Muslims in Canada based on the Middle East conflict,
as well as the spillover of antisemitism into anti-Israel activity, are factors that must be discussed, painful and controversial as
this may be. The fact that two Arab community papers out West could publish articles openly attacking Jews in general, or
targeting Jewish personalities who are prominent in politics or community leadership, must be addressed. The concern in that
this type of propaganda will reach vulnerable sectors of society, or newcomers to this country who may not be attuned to our
tradtions of multiculturalism."
Out of the 584 incidents in 2003, 84 or 14.4% occurred in January, and 87 or 14.8% in March, representing the peak in monthly
incidents for the year. Almost half (49.4%) of the incidents for the entire year took place in the first four months, a period
covering the build-up to the Iraq War, the outbreak of the conflict and the immediate aftermath. During this timeframe, the
Audit noted, there were numerous attempts during street and campus anti-war rallies to blame Israel and the Jews for the War.
This trend was also evident in online and print propaganda.
In addition, this four-month period was preceded by two major antisemitic outbursts, one by former First Nations leader
David Ahenakew, and the other by Raymond Baaklini, the Lebanese Ambassador to Canada. The Audit concluded: "There
appears to be a casual relationship between coverage of 'Jewish' issues in the mass media and the feeling that somehow
'permission' has been given for open expression of antagonism towards Jews."
In 2003, 389 (66.6% or 2/3) of the 584 incidents were classified as harassment, 180 (30.8%) fell into the category of vandalism
and 15 (2.6%) were classed as violence. Threats of physical violence in the harassment category have increased steeply, even
though the number of instances of outright violence has decreased.
There were 23 incidents targeting synagogues in addition to 22 other incidents involving Jewish communal buildings, 46 against
Jewish students on campus, 23 in the workplace, 32 relating to Internet sites, 33 involving hate by e-mail, 111 included threats,
and 34 were specifically directed against children (22 of which involved school facilities).
While incidents were reported across the country, the most significant numbers were once again collected in Ontarior and
Quebec, where most Canadian Jews live. In Ontario, there were 400 incidents, 315 of which took place in the Greater Toronto
Area (GTA). In Quebec there were 108 incidents, of which 102 took place in Greater Montreal. The Audit gives precise
information on the distribution of incidents across Canada and the percentage increases in each area. It also makes eleven
recommendations for dealing with hate-related activity in this country.
The full text of the Audit can be accessed at the following Web link:
|IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis