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Antisemitism in Canada Reaches New Heights


Terrorism, Fighting in Middle East Triggers Unprecedented Number of Hate Incidents, B’nai Brith Audit Reveals

Click the image above to read the 2023 Audit

May 6, 2024

OTTAWA – In a sobering news conference Monday morning on Parliament Hill, B’nai Brith Canada revealed that antisemitic incidents, including those of a violent nature, dramatically increased to unprecedented levels in the country in 2023.

According to findings published in the latest edition of B’nai Brith’s Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in Canada, reported cases rose by 109.1 per cent from 2022 to 2023.

This figure – documenting a total of 5,791 incidents – surpasses even 2021’s jarring statistics, previously the highest on record. At that time, B’nai Brith recorded 2,799 incidents, although that total slightly decreased to 2,769 in 2022.

Some notable examples in 2023 included:

  • In Montreal, a synagogue and Jewish community centre were firebombed. Days later, gunshots were fired at two Jewish schools.
  • A man hollered antisemitic profanities and threw eggs in October at a Jewish Community Centre in Calgary, including a Holocaust Memorial Monument and vehicles in the vicinity.
  • In May, a Jewish student in the Lower Mainland (Langley) of B.C. was physically assaulted by classmates while being taunted by antisemitic epithets.
  • In November, an Imam in Victoria, B.C., called for the annihilation of the Jewish people during a sermon given to Muslim youths.
  • In Manitoba, a Jewish student was confronted by classmates doing the “Sieg Heil.”
  • Throughout Ontario, there was a marked rise in antisemitic graffiti, as heinous messages such as “Kill the Jews” were written on walls, park benches and public spaces.
  • In March, a man on a bike in Bridgewater, N.S., draped himself in a flag emblazoned with a Swastika.
  • In June, in Riverview, N.B., playgrounds and public parks were spraypainted and vandalized with swastikas.

Beyond the numbers, the Audit captured other alarming trends. For instance, there was an alarming increase in 2023 of the prevalence of antisemitic incidents on university campuses. Instances of antisemitism propagated by white supremacists also rose sharply.

Other forces contributing to antisemitism included radical communist and socialist groups, who frequently took antisemitic positions under the guise of “anti-imperialism” and “anti-colonialism.”

A novel trend in 2023 was the increased use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create antisemitic propaganda and materials.

Another concerning development was the influence of foreign state and non-state actors of antisemitism in Canada. One notable example of this is the celebration of the annual Al-Quds day hatefest, which was invented by the former supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“The incidents and numbers cited in our Audit should concern all decent Canadians,” said Richard Robertson, B’nai Brith Canada’s Director of Research and Advocacy. “Antisemitism is not only a blight on Jewish people. It is an attack on Canadian values and a threat to our multicultural, diverse society.

“We urge people to think seriously about what this spike in antisemitic incidents says about the direction in which our society is heading.”

Several factors contributed to the unprecedented nature of the 2023 findings, although many incidents occurred in the early months of the Israel-Hamas war. Antisemitism escalated rapidly across Canada after the conflict began on Oct. 7, 2023, when Hamas terrorists abducted civilians in Israel and raped and murdered about 1,200 Israelis in the world’s worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust. The ensuing tensions directly influenced many of the most violent incidents recorded in the 2023 Audit.

Front doors of Congregation Beth Tikvah, Montreal, partially charred by firebombing in November, 2023.

It is important to note, however, that B’nai Brith had already observed an upward trend in the months before Oct. 7. Many earlier examples could be attributed, for example, to the fallout emanating from the “Hunka Affair” – an embarrassing fiasco during which Parliament paid tribute to a former Nazi soldier amid a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The scandal, among other events, emboldened Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups across Canada. Another spike in antisemitic incidents transpired in May 2023, during clashes between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorists.

“Clearly,” Robertson concluded, “an unprecedented wave of antisemitism plagued Canada’s Jewish community in 2023.”

Provincial and Territorial Breakdown of Antisemitic Incidents in Canada in 2023:

  • Ontario: 2,401 incidents (77.5% increase)
  • Quebec: 523 Incidents (27.5% decrease)
  • Manitoba: 261 incidents (413% increase)
  • Saskatchewan: 74 incidents (362.5% increase)
  • Alberta: 352 Incidents (193.3% increase)
  • British Columbia: 465 incidents (92.1% increase)
  • PEI: 0 Incidents
  • New Brunswick: 20 incidents (49% decrease)
  • Nova Scotia: 36 incidents (800% increase)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 61 incidents (369% increase)
  • Yukon: 17 incidents (∞ Increase) – 0 in 2022
  • Nunavut: 0 incidents
  • The Northwest Territories: 0 Incidents
  • Canada Wide (Online Harassment): 1,581 (656% increase)