New Statistics Canada Report Shows Rise in Anti-Semitic Attacks: How the Media Can Help Fight Back

Again, Jews have the dubious distinction of representing the largest group of victims of religiously motivated crimes, according to recent data released by Statistics Canada.

The August 2 report titled “Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2021, found that hate crimes against Jews were reported to police 487 times in 2021, compared to 331 incidents in 2020, representing a 47% increase. In 2019, the figure was 306 anti-Semitic hate crimes.

According to a study 2018 According to the Environics Institute, Jews number about 400,000 in Canada, which is just over one percent of the population but accounts for about 14 percent of all hate crimes.

In 2021, 144 hate crimes were reported against Muslims and 155 hate crimes were reported against Catholics, representing steep increases of 71% and 260% from 2020, respectively.

While some anti-Jewish hate crimes have attracted media attention, such as the Canada Day demonstration at Taste of Israel, a store in Thornhill that was the site of an anti-Israel protest where protesters harassed Jewish customers shopping in the plaza, Estimate of Jewish Community Organizations that for every reported hate crime, the true number is likely higher.

The significant increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2021 may be linked to the conflict in the Middle East. In May 2021, Hamas, the Islamist terror group based in Gaza, launched an 11-day terror war against Israel, firing thousands of rockets at Israeli population centers, and in response Israel defended itself against Hamas .

But as the conflict between Israel and Hamas rages, anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise. In a number of incidents, Jews were harassed at or around pro-Israel rallies, in Jewish neighborhoods as well as in online forums.

The sharp increase in attacks against Jews in the spring and summer of 2021 was not just a Canadian phenomenon; it has spread across the world.

In Los Angeles, a group of identifiable Jewish customers eating out at a restaurant were assaulted and we threw bottles at them by a group of passers-by, some of whom shouted “death to the Jews” and “liberate Palestine”.

In Miami, a man and his daughter had trash thrown at them and faced “hate slogansas they walked out of a synagogue at the height of the conflict in Gaza.

And in New York, a brutally attacked gang and beat a Jewish man as he shouted anti-Semitic slurs as he walked down the street.

Clearly, there is more than just a correlation between anti-Israeli terrorism in the Middle East and anti-Semitism around the world; the causality is indisputable.

In the aftermath of the war in Gaza, a group of Israeli researchers found that anti-Semitic attacks had increased around the world, including in Canada, the United States, Germany, Australia, France and the United Kingdom.

They found that one of the reasons for the increase in hate crimes was due to the prevalence of incitement material found on social media, where anti-Semitic messages could easily be spread around the world in a short time.

Uriya Shavit, one of the researchers behind the report, told The Associated Press in April that in the past, anti-Semitic ideas existed, but spreading them required considerable effort. “Today it is so easy to access it.”

But the mere ability to spread anti-Semitic ideas does not in itself explain the rapid increase in such hate crimes at a time of tension in the Middle East.

If the medium is a factor, the message is even more critical: the frequent delegitimization of Israel as a Jewish state. When Israel is defamed as an illegal “occupier”, an “apartheid” state and a “colonialist” enterprise with no moral right to exist, expressions of hatred against individual Jews cannot not be far.

When the only Jewish country in the world, a state with three thousand years of unquestionable history, can have its moral foundation entirely delegitimized, then anyone defending such a country, or even considered to be affiliated with it, can become the target of crimes of hate.

While reasonable people may disagree on various Israeli policies, what should be broadly condemned is any attempt to delegitimize Israel’s existence, which inevitably leads to the demonization of Jews as a whole.

In fact, this link between the denial of Israel’s right to exist and anti-Semitism is so clear that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) identified the denial of the existence of Israel as a key element of how contemporary antisemitism manifests itself.

Even when tensions are high in the Middle East – in fact, especially – the social media giants and the news media should allow people with a wide range of opinions to speak, but this openness to spirit should not allow hateful anti-Semitic speech under the guise of Israel – criticism must be allowed to spread.