The recent conflict has led to a dangerous rise in antisemitism, in both frequency and severity, across Canada.
The Jewish community was already the most targeted religious group for police-reported hate crimes in Canada with, according to 2019 data from Statistics Canada, a reported hate-crime occurring on average five times per week. Those numbers are particularly troubling since the Jewish community, which accounts for about 1% of the Canadian population, are targets of 17% of police-reported hate crime.
History teaches us that what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews. Combating antisemitism is not only about protecting Jews; it is also about protecting the fabric of Canadian society. The recent surge in antisemitism represents a dangerous new trend. Some recent examples include:
- In Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton, anti-Israel protestors entered Jewish neighbourhoods, aggressively harassed residents, and vandalized Jewish property.
- In Toronto while walking to a hospital, a Rabbi and his child were harassed and accosted with calls that “Hitler was right and Jews should have been gassed and burned.”
- On May 16 in Montreal, a small group of people calmly showing their support for the State of Israel were attacked with rocks and bottles. Easily identifiable Jews were pursued in the streets and forced to hide in shops to avoid being lynched.
- Targeting the Jewish community, individuals, and businesses throughout the country with Nazi imagery.
- Windows of the buildings housing Toronto and Montreal’s Israeli Consulates were broken during a ‘pro-Palestinian’ demonstrations.
- The borough of Montreal North had to fire the head of its youth council, Zakaria Zaki Rouaghi, after his hateful and racist comments against the Jewish community.
- During the May 16 anti-Israel demonstration in Montreal, some arrived armed! Police confiscated an axe, knives and pepper spray. Demonstrators were arrested for mischief, obstruction of justice, and assault with a weapon. According to a journalist on the scene, bottles with liquid, similar to Molotov cocktails, were also seized.
- Not prone to exaggeration, the Montreal Police Service nevertheless declared that it was witnessing “a wave of hate against the Jewish community.”
- Many incidents of Jewish youth bullied and tormented in school and on social media, including a Laurier student uploading a video glorifying and inciting violence while making stabbing motions with a knife.
This surge in antisemitism is not happening in a vacuum; it is part of a shocking rise in Jew-hatred around the world. From youth driving through Jewish neighbourhoods chanting, “f** the Jews, rape their daughters” in the UK, to violent mobs targeting Jews in the United States, there is an alarming global rise in antisemitism.
What Canada Can Do
As a friend of both Israel and the Palestinians, Canada can play a constructive role in the following ways:
- Provide humanitarian help for Gaza. This should be combined with effective international supervision so that the aid goes directly to Palestinians for humanitarian purposes and does not go to Hamas to rebuild its terrorist assets.
- Urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to re-engage with the international community to bring the two sides to the negotiation table, through a reinvigorated effort by the Quartet (UN, EU, Russia, US).
- Support people-to-people efforts through the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), the largest and fastest-growing network of Palestinian and Israeli peacebuilders.
- Domestically, the federal government should convene a national “Summit on Antisemitism” to deal with the spike in Canadian antisemitism.