More than seven anti-Semitic acts a day in 2020: B'nai Brith Canada audit

Sepharade Kol Yehouda in Côte St. Luc was vandalized last year.

More than seven anti-Semitic acts a day, on average, were committed in Canada in 2020, the latest B’nai Brith Canada League for Human Rights Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents says.

“As Canadians spent much of 2020 under pandemic restrictions and lockdown, anti-Semitism did not take the year off,” stated Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Though physical attacks decreased last year, online hate continues to skyrocket, particularly during a year that, more than ever, forced many of us to interact virtually rather than in-person.

“B’nai Brith Canada’s Eight-Point Plan to Tackle Antisemitism remains as relevant as ever, especially its prescient call for government action to combat online hatred.”

“Records for anti-Semitism in this country were set for a fifth consecutive year,” says a B’nai Brith Canada statement. “There was an increase of 18.3 percent of recorded anti-Semitic incidents in comparison to 2019. The actual number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in 2020 was 2,610. This marked the third successive year in which the 2,000 plateau was exceeded.”

In Quebec, though, reported anti-Semitic incidents as a whole fell 13.8 percent, from 796 to 686. Incidents were lower in Alberta, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, increased 226 percent in Atlantic Canada, increased 44.3 percent in Ontario and fell 2.9 percent in the Prairies and Nunavut.

Still, “Quebec was also the region with one-third of recorded violent incidents in Canada, largely targeting the visibly observant Jewish community,” the report says.

The audit adds that more than 44 percent of the violent incidents across the country were COVID-19-related.

“Violent incidents in 2020 decreased to their lowest levels in years – perhaps aided by repeated lockdowns — but were characterized primarily by discrimination attributable to COVID-19. The majority of these incidents targeted Hasidic individuals in Broisbriand, Que., after misinformation was reported surrounding a local Hasidic community not abiding by legally mandated COVID-19 measures.”

Other physical attacks took place outside Quebec.

“Even individuals who were in no way affiliated with that particular community were denied access to vendors and experienced a range of violent attacks, including “being shot at with pellet guns, being spat on and called ‘dirty Jew’ by passersby, an assailant throwing a bottle from a Toronto apartment window at a family and then headbutting a member of that family after they sought an explanation for the attack.”

The audit includes examples of other anti-Semitic incidents that took place last year across the country.

• “In Winnipeg, a student was attacked by seven others after they told the teenager that Jews should “go back to the ovens.”

• “In Toronto, a man randomly assaulted an observant Jewish person by smacking the victim in the face and shouting ‘f— Jews and f— the State of Israel.’”

• “Graffiti with the words ‘f— you’ and ‘Zionists not welcome’ was scrawled on a Toronto-area restaurant.”

• “A Montreal-area synagogue was vandalized and had ritual items desecrated, with Torah scrolls strewn about the floor and religious articles found in the toilet.”

• “Several mezuzahs were ripped off the doorposts of homes throughout the country.”

• A swastika and the phrase ‘Heil Hitler’ were drawn, defacing a kindergarten in Toronto.”

• “’Zoom-bombing,’ which interrupted Zoom calls or synagogue services and other community functions with antisemitic, racist and pornographic video, became a disturbing trend.”

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