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Neo-nazi Attack in Ontario Store Heightens Fears of Anti-semitism

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Police have arrested two neo-Nazis who assaulted and yelled anti-Semitic insults at the Jewish owner of an Ontario clothing store, raising anew questions about the extent of right-wing racism in Canada.

The confrontation began when Elliot Eisen, 50, owner of the Headin’ West Store in Kitchener, asked a group of three people, two of them dressed in neo-Nazi garb, to leave his store.

The intruders shoved Eisen, spat on him, shouted anti-Semitic slurs and threw his merchandise down on the floor of the store in Kitchener, about 60 miles from Toronto.

“They were yelling, ‘You fucking Jew, I’m going to kill you. Go back to your own country, you fucking Jews,’ ” said Allen Eisen, 18, the store owner’s son.

Paul McGraw, 20, of Kitchener was charged with uttering death threats and assault with a weapon. And a 17-year-old minor was charged with trespassing.

They are both members of the white supremacist Heritage Front, according to Bernie Farber, a spokesman for the Canadian Jewish Congress.

The incident came just four days after skinheads and members of the small, yet highly vocal, Heritage Front group clashed with anti-racist protesters in front of the Parliament building in Ottawa, shouting the Nazi salute “Sieg Heil,” among other slogans.

It was the worst outbreak of violence in the normally staid Canadian capital in several years.

Jewish groups reacted strongly to the attack in Kitchener.

“It has opened up an unfortunate new chapter of neo-Nazi activity in Canada,” Farber said. “We can no longer be complacent.”

INCIDENTS ACTUALLY DECREASING

Frank Dimant, executive vice president of B’nai Brith Canada, repeated his call for a “national multilevel task force” to examine the problem of hate groups and hate propaganda and to recommend legal solutions.

“This incident serves to drive home the fact that Canada is facing a serious problem from racism and violence,” Dimant said.

Despite the concern of the country’s two main Jewish groups, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada in 1992 dropped sharply from the previous year, according to an annual report released in March by B’nai Brith’s League for Human rights.

Rabbi Dow Marmur of Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple, whose congregation recently held a forum on anti-Semitism, said he was not surprised to learn that the incidence of anti-Semitism was on the wane according to these reports.

“Jewish perceptions of anti-Semitism baffle researchers,” Rabbi Marmur noted. “While there are strong indications anti-Semitism is actually decreasing in Canada, most Canadian Jews believe it is increasing. The objective facts do not tally with subjective perceptions.

In a feature article May 24 in Toronto’s Globe and Mail, titled “Overanxious About Anti-Semitism,” the prestigious national daily noted, “Prejudice against Jews is seen to be reaching crisis proportions.”

Yet, the newspaper claimed, “polls show anti-Semitic views on a long-term decline.”

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