THE FIGHTING IN THE MIDDLE EAST MAY BE HALTING.
BUT VIOLENCE AGAINST JEWS AT HOME CANNOT CONTINUE.
Canada’s Jewish community continues to endure a massive outburst of antisemitism in the wake of recent fighting between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group.
Over the past week, B’nai Brith Canada’s Anti-Hate Hotline has been ringing off the hook with reports of harassment, vandalism and online bullying from Jews across the country. Most shockingly, the number of antisemitic assaults recorded so far in May of 2021 easily surpasses the total for all of 2020. Similarly alarming rises in anti-Jewish incidents have also taken place across many parts of Europe and North America.
Last Wednesday, B’nai Brith was the first group to warn that failures to enforce public health orders and anti-hate speech laws at anti-Israel protests would likely lead to violence. Sadly, the Jewish human rights organization was proven correct.
Last Saturday, a massive and illegal anti-Israel rally was held in downtown Toronto.
The next day, a peaceful pro-Israel rally was held in Montreal, where outdoor demonstrations remain legal. Anti-Israel extremists repeatedly attacked the attendees, throwing stones, using teargas and calling them “dirty Jews.” Police eventually dispersed the rally as a result of the violence.
Anti-Israel demonstrators in Toronto and London, Ont. displayed the Nazi swastika. In Vancouver and Toronto, they praised Hamas and lauded its rocket barrages against Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv, while in Mississauga, attendees even sang about carrying out armed “operations” against “Zionists.”
In the days since the massive protests, antisemitic incidents have continued to occur. In Montreal and Edmonton, Jews have been targeted and harassed in their own neighbourhoods by individuals seeking “revenge” against innocent Canadian Jews for events in the Middle East.
“This past week has been a shocking and harrowing experience for the Jewish community,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “For the first time in their lives, many have had their sense of safety and security in Canada seriously challenged.”
Prior rounds of conflict between Israel and Hamas in 2008 and 2014 also coincided with a rise in antisemitic incidents, but this spike has been more pronounced.
Mostyn offers two possible reasons for this:
“Firstly, the increased reach of news social media platforms, especially apps like TikTok and Instagram, have allowed misinformation and hatred to circulate like wildfire.
“Secondly, elected officials and law enforcement have simply lost control of the situation in some cities. They seem to have given up trying to enforce the law, which will only embolden criminality in the long term.”
Enforcement of public health orders with respect to gatherings has been inconsistent across jurisdictions. In Hamilton, Calgary and Halifax, police handed out significant fines or even arrested those who staged illegal anti-Israel protests.
Notably, B’nai Brith has not received any complaints of antisemitic violence from cities where public health orders were enforced.
But in other municipalities such as Toronto, Mississauga and Vancouver, super-spreader events were allowed to occur without significant penalty. In fact, in Toronto, the same group that organized last week’s violent super-spreader event intends to march through downtown tomorrow.
The group in question behind the Toronto events is the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) — a group that B'nai Brith previously took to task for glorifying a terrorist.