Ontario

Antisemitism
An Overview

Ontario is a province in east-central Canada that borders the U.S. and the Great Lakes. It's home to Ottawa, Canada's capital, which is known for Parliament Hill’s Victorian architecture and the National Gallery, featuring Canadian and indigenous art. Toronto, Ontario's capital, is home to the 553m-high CN Tower, with expansive views from its revolving restaurant, as well as High Park, site of a rare oak savannah habitat. Ontario is the largest province in Canada with a population of approximately 13 million.

Toronto Police Hate Crimes Report

Toronto is Ontario's largest city with a population of 6.4 million - a larger density than most of Canada's provinces. The Toronto Police Services Hate Crimes Unit released an annual report (1). According to the report: "In 2016, there was an increase in the total number of hate/bias crimes occurrences reported to the Service. In comparison to 2015, the number of reported occurrences increased from 134 to 145, representing a difference of approximately 8%. Over the past 10 years, between 2007 and 2016, the average number of reported hate/bias crimes is approximately 141 per annum."

The report states, "The three most targeted groups since 2006 have been the Jewish community, the Black community and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community. In 2016, the Jewish community, followed by the LGBTQ community, the Black community, and the Muslim community were the most victimized groups".

The Toronto Hate Crimes report once again reveals that the Toronto Jewish community is the most victimized religious group by far at 29.7% in comparison to the Muslim community at 15.9%. Still, most hate crimes against the Jewish community are unaccounted for, particularly on university campuses and through hateful pamphlets and/or newspapers which are distributed in neighbourhoods. Most occurrences of antisemitism are resolved institutionally and never reported or quantified as shall be later indicated.

Private Schools

An upward trend in antisemitic incidents begun to occur in 2017 in private schools mainly in the Greater Toronto Area. Uncharacteristically, Upper Canada College reported on April 26, 2017 that "a student in Grade 7 returned to his locker at the end of the day to find it vandalized with anti-Semitic symbols and messaging. As soon as we became aware of the situation, the College began an investigation. We have attempted to progress the investigation swiftly, involving all appropriate parties, including the police." 

Similarly, Greenwood had an antisemitic incident in April 2017 which impacted its student body and parents. In an email to parents, the principal wrote: "As you may have heard from your child, Greenwood also suffered its own troubling incident at the beginning of April, when one of our after-hours cleaners found a swastika that had been drawn anonymously in marker on a wall in the boys’ change room."

A more serious incident occurred at Branksome Hall in May 2017 where two Senior School students, who had been studying about dictators and reading Animal Farm in their classes, drew a chalk drawing depicting Hitler and Stalin with accompanying quotes like “Hitler was right.” The school explained that these students were unaware of the meaning of these drawings and provided counter education to them and to the rest of the school.

While the above schools are private upper class, schools in general have also been targeted externally by antisemitic incidents. Eitz Chaim Hebrew Day School, for example, had a minimum of three antisemitic incidents in the spring of 2017 - including swastikas drawn on various external areas and even stones being thrown at its students who were in the play ground.

University Campuses

Antisemitism on university campuses in Ontario has become commonplace. Often, it is linked to political forms of antisemitism under the veneer of "campaigns" against Israel. They manifest as "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" campaigns, "Israeli Apartheid Week" and aggressive lobbying on behalf of the pro-Palestinian movement. Ryerson University, especially, has been cause for concern in 2016 -2017 academic year. In the most recent instance in May 2017, it was revealed that a Jewish social work student was denied placement by the university administrators at two Jewish organizations of her choice. The student, Rebecca Katzman said she felt "targeted" by Heather Bain, the program coordinator.

In another related Ryerson occurrence in March 2017, Ryerson University fired teaching assistant Ayman Elkasrawy for provocative antisemitic language while leading a prayer at his mosque (3). At Masjid Toronto, Elkasrawy allegedly called to “purify the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews.”

In a third demonstrable incident at Ryerson on November 29, 2016, Jewish students alleged antisemitism was behind a walkout staged by Muslim and pro-Palestinian students at a Ryerson Student Union meeting. The walkout was meant to stymie a motion to commemorate Holocaust Education Week (4).

York University continues to be cause for concern in the Jewish community. Numerous events have taken place over the last number of years which raise cause for concern. Jewish students have felt intimidated and victimized by radicalized student groups and faculty that have politicized the environment.

This was brought to a head in 2016 when Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center exposed a propaganda mural that still hangs in the Student Center. The mural depicts a Palestinian holding rocks behind his back with a blank map of Israel on his Kefiah. The community at large was outraged, calling it a violence promoting antisemitic propaganda display that victimizes and re-victimizes Jewish students.

As the university has refused to remove the mural - coupled with the Student Union’s insistence on its hanging and reinforcement by anti-Israel measures in the form of boycotts and divestment undertaken by student groups and the Faculty Association (eg. YUDivest, Israeli Apartheid Week) - the Jewish community has largely scaled back its participation at York and Jewish student attendance has declined, especially in undergrad.

Some additional instances include a staff member who was terminated in September 2016 after an antisemitic post on Facebook stating, “Pray that these same Zionists, haters of God and His children, do not succeed in their goal of bringing about World War III.”

In March 2017, swastikas were discovered in a York University classroom. According to a distraught student, “the professor started the lecture, but said, ‘unfortunately there was an incident and we have to cancel the class because the class is now a crime scene and police are coming in.”

Swastikas on campuses have become common place. In October 2016, a rash of antisemitic graffiti hit the University of Toronto’s downtown campus. Three swastikas were found on a sign outside of OISE and on a sign for the medical sciences building.

Even while the University of Toronto is widely recognized as the birthplace of the antisemitic "Israeli Apartheid Week" - this year in March 2017 - Queens University also included this racist event on its student roster. Moreover, it held a "mock check point" on the grounds of the university with some students being forced to choose between being Palestinian or Israeli in order to pass. This terrible display is intended to foment hate towards Israel and antisemitism toward Jewish students on campus.

NOTE THIS DOCUMENT IS BEING COMPILED CONTINUOUSLY. THERE IS LOTS MORE! CHECK IN SHORTLY!

1) https://www.torontopolice.on.ca/publications/files/reports/2016hatecrimereport.pdf

2) http://www.torontosun.com/2017/05/28/jewish-ryerson-student-felt-targeted-over-placement-request

3) https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/03/01/ryerson-fires-teaching-assistant-over-alleged-anti-semitic-comments.html

4) http://www.cjnews.com/news/canada/ryerson-students-stage-walkout-holocaust-education-motion

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