B’nai Brith audit counts 1,135 attacks on Jews or Jewish targets in 2008, up 8.9% from previous year. Executive VP says government’s efforts to curtail phenomenon challenged by ‘coalition of hate’ that includes terrorist organizations such as Hamas , campaigns by Canadian Arab Federation, neo-Nazi groups
TORONTO – Anti-Semitism in Canada reached an all-time high last year, despite the government’s efforts to combat the phenomenon, B’nai Brith said Tuesday in its annual report, adding that Jews were being used as scapegoats for the ailing economy.
The group’s audit counted 1,135 attacks on Jews or Jewish targets in 2008, an 8.9% increase over the previous year, and a more than fourfold increase over the past decade.
According to the report, the majority of anti-Semitic incidents, 682, happened in Ontario and most of those, 538, were in the Toronto area while 62 were reported in Ottawa. Incidents in Quebec represented 22% of the country’s total, which marked a 15% decline from 2007. Anti-Semitic incidents were up in British Columbia and Saskatchewan and way up in Alberta where there was a 79% jump from the number reported in 2007.
About 800 incidents were characterized as harassment, followed by 318 cases of vandalism and 14 reports of violence.
“As the economy faces recession, the hate industry experiences inflationary growth. Bad economic times encourages the growth of bigotry and especially anti-Semitism,” Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B’nai Brith, said at a news conference.
‘Radical Islamists threaten Jews’
B’nai Brith said the fact that 547 incidents, close to half the total in Canada overall, took place in the last four months of 2008, “can indeed be linked to fall-out from the developing economic recession and such high-profile fiascos as the Bernard Madoff scandal.
“The beginning of the war in Gaza had an effect. Of the 151 incidents that occurred in December, the month with the highest total of the year, 70 related to the emerging Mid-East crisis. Of these, 36 occurred in the last few days of the year as tensions heightened. This is typically a very quiet period due to the holiday season,” said the report.
Dimant said the federal government, as well as the official opposition, has made rooting out anti-Semitism a priority but that positive efforts are constantly challenged by a “coalition of hate” that he said includes terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizbullah, campaigns by the Canadian Arab Federation, neo-Nazi groups and academics on university campuses that support unions such as the Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
The union recently proposed adopting a resolution to prohibit Israeli
academics from lecturing, teaching or researching in Canada.
“Radical Islamists threaten Jews and, together with the neo-Nazis and the academics, have created an informal entity of a coalition of hate in this country. Collectively and independently they are poisoning the harmony and tranquility which we once enjoyed in Canada, as a tolerant, multi-faith and multicultural society,” he said.