Antisemitic graffiti in downtown Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic
B'nai Brith has released a new policy paper, outlining how governments can address the growing issue of COVID-19-inspired antisemitism and disinformation in Canada and beyond.
As the world has so often witnessed, a time of human suffering and crisis has been manipulated by those seeking to spread hateful messages and conspiracy theories, in this case targeting the Jewish community and others because of their religious and cultural backgrounds. COVID-19-inspired antisemitism builds on traditional Jew-hatred and malign conspiracy theories, including the Jewish attachment to Israel, that have long plagued societies everywhere.
Canada has not been immune to this worrying trend. Since the pandemic began, B’nai Brith’s Anti-Hate Hotline has received complaints about hateful graffiti, xenophobic media attention, and discrimination in Canadian shops against those who are identifiably Jewish. These same trends have been seen in the United States, Europe and other regions.
At a time when social cohesion is under stress, we are determined to confront all instances of intolerance and hatred that arise. This includes fighting the spread of COVID-19-related online hatred, xenophobia, and disinformation.
The new policy paper calls on governments, including the Canadian government, to address COVID-19- inspired hatred through a specific set of measures, pro-active and responsive, that recognize the problem and challenge it. Governments are asked to denounce deliberate falsehoods and malign conspiracy theories, and to correct the record as efforts are made to stigmatize parts of the population and inflame social divisions.
The paper focuses on several specific recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which form part of our ongoing call for coordinated Canadian action to combat antisemitism. These include:
Following-up on the landmark 2019 report on antisemitism prepared by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and the Special Rapporteur’s call of April 17, 2020, call for urgent action to confront COVID-19-related antisemitism.
Developing and implementing a national action plan on antisemitism and to appoint a high-level domestic coordinator for this purpose.
Taking concrete steps, now, to implement the IHRA definition of antisemitism which was accepted in June, 2019, as part of Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy.
Ensuring that funding to encourage Canadians to think critically about online health information and to support media and public health information accuracy includes resources to counter COVID-19 disinformation and to battle all forms of racism and xenophobia, particularly antisemitism.
The rise of COVID-19-inspired antisemitism follows another record year for the number of antisemitic incidents in Canada, as documented in B’nai Brith’s 2019 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents – released last month.
If you experience or come across any instances of COVID-19-inspired antisemitism, please CLICK HERE to report your experience to our Anti-Hate Hotline.