MONTREAL (Mar. 2)
For the first time in several years, B’nai Brith Canada reported a drop in anti-Semitic incidents in its annual national audit.
B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights reported 196 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide in 1992, down 22 percent from the 1991 total of 251.
The highest figure was reported in Toronto, where there were 24 acts of vandalism and 73 acts of harassment, for a total of 97 incidents.
Montreal reported 25 incidents (eight acts of vandalism and 17 of harassment) and Ottawa also reported 25 (seven vandalism and 18 harassment incidents). Regional Ontario had the next highest figure, with 15, while the province of Manitoba was fourth, with 11.
While the figures represent a drop from last year, B’nai Brith pointed out that the positive news must be tempered by the fact that the number of anti-Semitic incidents rose dramatically in 1990 and 1991 following the invasion of Kuwait and the Persian Gulf War.
The 1992 numbers represent an 11 percent increase from 1989, the last year relatively unaffected by international events.
At a news conference Tuesday, League for Human Rights Chairman Stephen Scheinberg urged caution for other reasons, as well.
This could be a “mixed message,” he said.
“Are we encouraged? Well, when hate groups move toward more legitimate forms, as is happening, they’re to be more feared,” he added. “We may find this trend to be more threatening in the long run.”
And Scheinberg focused on the fact that since the beginning of 1993 alone, there have been an alarming 30 acts of anti-Semitism in Montreal, 25 of vandalism and 5 of harassment.
NON-JEWISH INSTITUTIONS TARGETED
As for the anti-Semitic acts in 1992, one-third were directed toward individuals. Another 21 percent were directed toward Jewish institutions, down from 24 percent in 1991.
B’nai Brith is disturbed that there was a rise in incidents against non-Jewish institutions. They accounted for some 30 percent of all reported incidents and 48 more incidents nationwide than in 1991.
“This clearly indicates the increased efforts on the part of hate groups to target high schools and universities and the average man on the street,” said Scheinberg.
Of particular note were incidents timed with the deportation of the father-and-son white supremacist team of Tom and John Metzger following a speaking engagement before the white supremacist Heritage Front in Toronto last June.
Misrepresenting their visit, they crossed the border at Niagara Falls. They were later arrested and incarcerated, prompting angry demonstrations by neo-Nazis.
During the deportation proceedings, three Toronto synagogues were defaced with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans.
Similarly, after British author and Holocaust denier David Irving was deported in November following addresses to small crowds in Ontario, the home of anti-Irving demonstrator Mona Zentner was damaged by arsonists in Kitchener, Ontario.