Approximately 600 people, including children who attend a Jewish daycare, had to be evacuated from the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (JCC) in downtown Toronto after receiving a bomb threat around 10 am on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
Shortly afterwards, the Jewish Community Centre in London, Ontario received a similar call, prompting that centre’s evacuation. It is the second time in less than two months the London JCC was targeted.
Mayor John Tory rushed to the Toronto JCC to reassure the Jewish community that “we shoulder to shoulder with them & won’t be intimidated by threats”.
Tory said he was “heartened” by the fact everyone was evacuated from the centre safely and that police responded so quickly.
“I’m deeply saddened by the fact that this would happen here and in other parts of North America,” Tory said. “It’s clearly part of some deranged pattern of anti-Semitic behaviour.”
Following an uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes, York Regional Police has initiated increased patrols and presence at synagogues and Jewish institutions across Ontario’s York Region following the threats to Jewish communities across Canada as well as the US, where since January 120 Jewish institutions, including the offices of the Anti-Defamation League, received bomb threats.
On Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the Trump administration condemns anti-Semitism “in the strongest terms” as Jewish institutions across North America were hit with a fresh wave of bomb threats.
As of 10 pm on Tuesday evening, neither PM Justin Trudeau nor Ontario Premier Wynne have issued any statements explicitly condemning these hateful acts or offering their support to the Canadian Jewish community which has been the target of numerous anti-Semitic incidents in recent weeks.
On February 20, 2017, Jewish residents at an apartment building in North York discovered that their doors were vandalized with Nazi symbols and their Mezuzahs (ritual scrolls affixed to doorposts) were damaged or removed.
On February 21, posters questioning the number of Jewish Holocaust victims were found taped to windows and doors at the University of Calgary. The posters read, in part, “did ‘6 million’ really die?”
Earlier in the month, an imam at Al Andalous Islamic Center in Montreal was exposed in a video dating back to 2014 praying to Allah to “destroy the accursed Jews” and to “make their children orphans and their women widows”.
A few days later, a hate crimes complaint has been filed with Toronto police by the Jewish Defence League of Canada against a downtown Toronto mosque affiliated with the Muslim Association of Canada, whose imam prayed in 2016 for the killing of Jews, disbelievers and enemies of Islam, and asked Allah to “purify al-Aqsa mosque form the filth of the Jews”. The imam, who also worked as a teaching assistant at Ryerson University, was subsequently fired from his job following a complaint from B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish human rights organization.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory have not issued any statement condemning the hateful sermons at Montreal and Toronto mosques.
At Western University in London, Ontario, anti-Semitic flyers targeting the Jewish community were circulated on campus. The flyers, printed by the Canadian National Independence Party (C.N.I.P.), accused Jews for the murder of 6 Muslim worshippers at a mosque in Quebec in late January, blamed “Jewish Zionist terrorists in Israel” for assassination of Muslims in Palestine and demanded that that all Zionists in Canada be tried as terrorists and imprisoned.
According to Statistics Canada, Canadian Jews who comprise 1% of the population were the most targeted minority group in Canada, 8 times more likely to be the victims of a hate crime than Canadian Muslims, who make up 3% of the population. In 2013, Canadian Muslims were victims of 6.2 hate crime incidents per 100,000 people while Canadian Jews experienced 54.9 incidents per 100,000 people.
According to B’nai Brith, which tracks anti-Semitic incidents in the country, the Jewish community is disproportionately targeted and anti-Semitism is a growing problem in Canada.
In a 2015 Annual Hate/Bias Crime Statistical Report, Toronto Police again listed the Jewish community, which is on the receiving end of nearly one in every three reported hate crimes incidents, as the most targeted group for hate crimes, followed by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community.