A total of 290 anti-Semitic incidents were reported across Canada in 1994, an increase of nearly 12 percent from 1993, according to a recent audit.
Last year, the number of anti-Semitic incidents was the highest it has been in 13 years of documentation, according to the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, spearheaded by the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada.
A similar study in the United States recently reached a similar conclusion. The Anti-Defamation League recorded 2,066 acts of anti-Semitism in the United States in 1994, more than in any of the 16 years that it has conducted its annual audit.
Frank Dimant, executive vice president of B’nai Brith Canada, said at a news conference last Friday, "Despite advances in peace between Israel and her neighbors, 1994 saw anti-Semitic brutality rear its head across the globe.
"From the murder of soldiers in Israel to terrorist bombings in Argentina and England, Jews in every corner of the Earth were reminded that we must remain vigilant if we are to remain safe and secure."
Possible explanations for the rise of anti-Semitism in Canada were included in the audit.
One theory for the increase was the Grant Bristow affair, the case of a paid informant of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service who was also a member of the White supremacist Heritage Front.
Bristow, the hate group’s intelligence chief and security director, was hired by CSIS six months after the front’s founding.
He is known to have instigated and encouraged acts of harassment against those opposed to racism.
Another explanation considered in the audit was the growing dissemination of hate propaganda on the Internet and other venues on the information superhighway.
One of several anti-Semitic messages sent electronically to Jewish students at McGill University said: "I am a racist and I think all of you Jews should be eliminated from the face of the Earth." The message was signed "Naziboy."
In order to record occurrences such as these, the audit broke down the reported incidents into two categories:violence and harassment.
Acts of anti-Semitic vandalism dropped from 105 to 92, which the audit said may be attributed to the reduced activity of extremist groups such as Church of the Creator and the Heritage Front.
But anti-Semitic harassment increased in 1994 to 198 incidents, up from 151 the year before. The 31 percent increase marked the highest level of any other year during the Gulf War in 1991.
"Despite the setbacks experienced by major neo-Nazi groups in 1994, it would be naive to assume that hate is dead in this country ," said Lyle Smordin, league chairman. "Jews continue to be targeted for harassment and violence and desecrated with alarming frequency."
Most of the anti-Semitic incidents occurred in Toronto, Canada’s largest city and home to the country’s largest Jewish community, according to the audit. Half of the incidents, or 146 cases, took place there.
There are an estimated 360,000 Jews in Canada, about 160,000 who live in Toronto, according to Dimant.
Montreal, with the second largest Jewish community, was next on the list, with 55, or 19 percent, of the cases.
Ottawa was third, with 36 cases, or 12 percent.
Some cases highlighted in the report included the mailing of a bullet and hate message sent to 14 Jewish communal leaders in Toronto; propaganda published by Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel left on car windshields outside an Ontario screening of "Schindler’s List;" and letters asserting that Jewish doctors were poisoning non-Jews sent to residents of Burlington, Ontario.
League Vice President Stephen Scheinberg said he was encouraged by the swift action of officials at all three levels of government to condemn acts of anti- Semitism when they did occur. "It’s an excellent development and we’re most satisfied with the security given to the Jewish community here," he said.