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B'nai Brith Audit of Antisemitic Incidents: 2011 figure of Antisemitic incidents represents substantial increase of 30% over 2010 findings

Antisemitism in Canada: A 30-Year Retrospective



The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada has monitored and reported on hate-motivated incidents directed at the Jewish community in Canada for thirty years. This annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents provides an examination of racism and bigotry in this country, as expressed in attacks of harassment, vandalism or violence against individual Jews or the community's institutions. It is cited by Statistics Canada, government and research agencies, and authoritative sources around the world and is the single most credible study of the phenomenon of antisemitism and patterns of occurrence and prejudice in Canada.


Antisemitism in Canada: A 30-Year Retrospective
It is 30 years since the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada first started to document antisemitism through an annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. Coincidentally, this year also marks a seminal anniversary in Canadian jurisprudence: the 1982 enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, legislation that promised the constitutional entrenchment of such basic rights as freedom of religion. Legislative advances notwithstanding, in terms of continued prejudice towards Jews and other religious minorities in Canada, the attitudes of Canadians as they contemplate neighbours with different customs and traditions, has not undergone any radically transformative change. In fact, available data shows that the number of antisemitic incidents has increased in the intervening years; compared to just ten years ago, the number of incidents has increased threefold. Clearly, an underlying thread of bigotry still runs through both public and private discourse, whether explicit or nuanced, reflecting continuing, deeply-rooted, underlying prejudice.
To be sure, public and institutional discourse on the celebration of Canadian multicultural diversity – ethnic, religious and cultural – is flourishing apace. Important inroads have been made in education and awareness-building; promising alliances have been forged between communities. Reasonable accommodation of religious and cultural requirements is in general accepted - albeit with pockets of resistance - at least in principle. Canada is a country where minority rights are protected and different traditions are celebrated, placing it light years away from states across the globe that propagate or enable bigotry, discrimination and a raft of human rights abuses.
The 1,297 reported incidents in Canada during 2011 offer a cross-section of what anti-Jewish prejudice looks like in Canada, illustrating a darker side to the advance of multiculturalism in this country. There are clearly still quarters where anti-Jewish ideologies find resonance, prompting hate-motivated activity - vandalism, harassment and even violence - in a variety of sectors of society.
This finding of a persistence in hate activity motivated by religion against Jews and Jewish institutions, as reported by the League over the past three decades, has been substantiated over and over again by police hate crime unit reports in several jurisdictions, and by Statistics Canada investigations as well. Just recently, in a Stats Canada study of hate crimes reported to police country-wide in 2010, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics' Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey found yet again that Jews were the most targeted group in religiously motivated hate crimes. Studies south of the border such as the FBI's Hate Crimes Statistics 2010 further corroborate these findings, indicating the road travelled since the League first began documenting antisemitism in 1982 has been a uphill struggle.
What is Antisemitism?
Adding fuel to the fire, populist movements searching for supporters often find it expedient to co-opt the type of rhetoric and imagery that oils the wheels of antisemitism. Hence the conflation of anti-Israel and antisemitic themes in the rank-and-file rallying cries of a variety of unrelated anti-globalization, anti-poverty, campus, church, union and other such coalitions, or the anti-Jewish bent of many modern-day conspiracy theorists. Demonization of the Jewish State, delegitimization of its right to exist and defend itself, and selective and obsessive preoccupation only with Israel’s alleged human rights infractions while ignoring actual human rights abuses elsewhere, go well beyond the type of constructive criticism of state policy that could - and should - be directed against any country. As emphasized before, legitimate critiques of Israel are not considered antisemitism by the League, nor are they included amongst the incidents documented in this study. Denying the collective right of the Jewish People - alone out of all nations - the right to self determination in their own homeland, in much the same way as Jews were denied individual human rights is the past, is another matter.
As part of a reframing of public discourse on antisemitism that has taken place over the past 30 years, we increasingly see attempts by the Far Left to deny that this pernicious age-old hatred is even a form of racism, along with claims that Jews are unable to understand the concept of victimization since they are universally “privileged”. This goes hand in hand with Holocaust Denial from the Far Right, commonly presented under the guise of “scholarly discourse”, which is bent on denying the reality of historical truth regarding the Nazi era, and tries to rehabilitate the image of the perpetrators and give new currency to the anti-Jewish ideologies of the past.
At both extremes of the political spectrum we see alliances being made with yet a third group - a global propaganda movement that attempts to re-cast Jews as “oppressors”, "colonialists" and "despoilers" in the Middle East. This group excuses threats from Islamists against Israel, Jewish communities and individual Jews, and even rationalizes attacks such as the Toulouse school massacre, and other attacks on Diaspora communities, on the grounds that Jews who will not disassociate themselves from the Jewish State, and instead insist on its right to exist in safety and security, are legitimate targets for violence.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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