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Bnai Brith Canada. Photo: CIJnews

2016 marks worst year on record for anti-Semitism in Canada: B’nai Brith Canada

On May 8, 2017 B’nai Brith Canada, a leading Jewish human rights advocacy organization, released its 35th edition of the Annual Audit of anti-Semitic Incidents, a definitive study on anti-Semitism in Canada.

The Audit was based on a combination of police hate crimes reports and incidents reported directly to B’nai Brith via their 24/7 Anti-Hate Hotline.

The report reveals that anti-Semitic incidents in Canada increased by 26% from the previous year, making 2016 the worst year on record for anti-Semitism since B’nai Brith began publishing it in 1982.

As in previous years, the Jewish community, which makes up less than one per cent of Canada’s population, was disproportionately targeted for hate crimes.

From universities to the public sphere, all across Canada anti-Semitism has been steadily rearing its ugly head. From vandalized cars, spray-painted anti-Semitic graffiti, anti-Israel boycotts and outright physical assaults, there were a total of 1,728 anti-Semitic incidents documented in Canada last year, including 11 instances of violence against Jews.

There were 490 documented anti-Semitic incidents in Ontario, home to the highest concentration of Jews, followed by Quebec (249 incidents overall, including 27% of all violent incidents in Canada). B’nai Brith also reported a “remarkable” increase of anti-Semitism in the Prairies (74 incidents compared to 11 incidents in 2015). There was also an uptick in anti-Semitism in Alberta and British Columbia, with 121 recorded incidents.

In addition to harassment, vandalism and violence, two other disturbing trends were noted in the audit. The first was a resurgence of Holocaust denial in academic circles, as well as Jew hatred in Canadian Arab media. Last year alone two Arab-language newspapers published articles supporting terrorism against Israelis, denying the Holocaust and alleging that Jews spread pornography and homosexuality, and an Arab-language tv show was cancelled after the host interviewed a Palestinian community activist who claimed that Jews committed “worse massacres” than the Holocaust against the Palestinians.

The anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement saw an increase in support on university campuses in 2016, in spite of the Canadian Parliament and the Ontario Legislature passing motions condemning the BDS movement in all its forms.

MP Omar Alghabra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Consular Affairs), opposes the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel for being non constructive and because of the biased and even antisemitic approach espoused by some of its advocates. During a debate in parliament (February 18, 2016), Alghabra said, “Yet, we must recognize that some BDS advocates may have anti-Semitic motives. Some are blinded by their passion. I firmly believe that double standards should and must be called out in every instance. For example, criticizing the government of Israel for certain behaviour while excusing it when committed by others is unacceptable.”

The B’nai Brith findings are corroborated by the Toronto Police 2016 Hate Bias Crime Statistical Report, which revealed that last year, as in every year since 2008, Jews continued to be the most targeted community in Toronto for hate crimes.

In 2016, the Toronto Jewish community, which makes up 3.8% of the religious population in Canada’s largest city, was victimized in approximately 30% of the total hate/bias crimes while the Muslim community, which makes up 8.2% of the population was victimized in approximately 15% of the hate/bias crimes. 17% of the attacks were directed at members of LGBTQ and 15% were directed at the Black community.

Out of 66 hate/bias occurrences involving religion, Toronto Jews were targeted 43 times and Muslims were targeted 22 times.

In 2016, most cases of vandalism were directed at Jews, while members of LGBTQ experienced more physical attacks than any other group and Muslims were the most victimized group for criminal harassment.

See also: Trudeau: “We guard against a resurgence of anti-Semitism” – click HERE

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About Ilana Shneider

Ilana Shneider
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at

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