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Amid drop in anti-Semitic incidents in Canada, vandalism rises sharply

TORONTO (JTA) — Anti-Semitic incidents decreased slightly in Canada in 2013 over the previous year, but cases of vandalism rose “significantly,” according to B’nai Brith Canada.

The organization’s annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents released Friday found that there were 1,274 incidents recorded last year, a 5.3 percent decrease over 2012.

While episodes of harassment decreased to 872 from 1,013, representing a nearly 14 percent drop, acts of vandalism rose by 21.6 percent — 388 in 2013 from 319 the prior year. Cases of violence also increased, to 14 from 13.

Lest “they be dismissed as trivial annoyance,” the audit noted that 113 of the 872 cases classified as harassment “involved explicit threats of violence or harm against individuals, families, businesses or institutions.”

Just over half of last year’s incidents, or 741, took place “as is the usual pattern” in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, according to the report. The next largest number, 250, were recorded in Quebec.

In cases involving vandalism, “a marked increase” was noted in the Montreal area as well as Atlantic Canada, while dropping in the Western provinces.

The report noted 434 incidents involving Web-based hate activity, a drop from the 521 incidents reported in 2012 and 528 reported in 2011. About half of the 2013 incidents involved the use of social media applications including Facebook and Twitter, the report said.

While an overall decrease in anti-Semitic incidents “is always welcome, the incidents reveal the unrelenting nature of anti-Semitism in Canada,” the annual audit said. It pointed out that over the last decade, anti-Jewish occurrences have increased by nearly 50 percent.

But numbers “are only part of the story,” said Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “What we are hearing from callers is a growing sense of dread among Canadians. Although the numbers for this year are down slightly, hatred of Jews has veered so far into normative discourse that it is no longer seen as wrong.”

Among B’nai Brith’s recommendations are to make Holocaust denial a specified hate crime under the Criminal Code; ban membership in hate groups in accordance with Canada’s international obligations; ensure that the victims of hate crimes are given a voice in criminal prosecutions; and to put measures in place to counter cyber bullying, including incidents involving expressions of hate and discrimination.

 

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