B'nai Brith Canada calls for gov't action against COVID-19-inspired antisemitism

COVID-19 inspired antisemitic graffiti in Toronto.

B’nai Brith Canada is calling on Canadian governments to take action against COVID-19-inspired antisemitism, including disinformation and conspiracy theories.

“B’nai Brith’s Anti-Hate Hotline has received complaints about hateful graffiti, xenophobic media attention, and discrimination in Canadian shops against those who are identifiably Jewish,” says a B’nai Brith statement. “These same trends have been seen in the United States, Europe and other regions.... This follows another record year for the number of antisemitic incidents in Canada, as documented in B’nai Brith’s 2019 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents – released last month.”

In Quebec specifically, “We have also seen harassment of Jews on the basis of their appearance. Jews unaffiliated with the Kiryas Tosh community—which self-quarantined voluntarily and in cooperation with government authorities—have been turned away at stores, denied service from a variety of businesses, and told to go home under threat of violence. This has continued even after the quarantine order was lifted for the Kiryas Tosh community on April 21.”

The organization has released a policy paper as a guide to how governments can tackle the issue:

• “Following-up on the landmark 2019 report on antisemitism prepared by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and the Special Rapporteur’s call of April 17, 2020, call for urgent action to confront COVID-19-related antisemitism.”

• “Developing and implementing a national action plan on antisemitism and to appoint a high-level domestic coordinator for this purpose.”

• “Taking concrete steps, now, to implement the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism which was accepted in June, 2019, as part of Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy.”

• “Ensuring that funding to encourage Canadians to think critically about online health information and to support media and public health information accuracy includes resources to counter COVID-19 disinformation and to battle all forms of racism and xenophobia, particularly antisemitism.”

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