It has been an overwhelming year for the Jewish community, to say the least. From an eruption of antisemitism on university campuses to synagogues targeted with hateful graffiti, 2019 had its fair share of antisemitic incidents. Hate crime statistics released earlier this year by Statistics Canada revealed that the Jewish community has remained the most targeted group for hate crimes, with 347 police-reported hate crimes in 2018 committed against the community.
While it was difficult to narrow down the list, here is our list of this year's 12 most-antisemitic incidents in Canada.
Rampant antisemitism targets Jewish students at York University
It's no surprise that York University made it to the top of our list. Antisemitism on campus has grown over the past few years, but what took place over the last few months was unimaginable. In early October, a Jewish student sitting at a table with a sign that read "I'm a Zionist, ask me why" was verbally attacked by other students who shouted "intifada," "wipe Israel off the map," "Jews control the world" and other antisemitic slogans, according to the student. Less than a month later, FSWC was notified by the same student that her application to establish a pro-Israel student group was denied by the York Federation of Students (YFS) without a reason, while the antisemitic group Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) was ratified once again. After FSWC met with York President Rhonda Lenton and filed an access to information request, YFS ratified the pro-Israel group.
The antisemitism didn't end there, however. Two weeks later, an antisemitic protest erupted after the pro-Israel group invited a group of IDF reservists to speak about their experiences at an event on campus. Initiated by the group SAIA, the protest included people chanting "intifada" and attempting to block the entrance to the event hall. FSWC immediately pressed law enforcement, government and university officials to launch an investigation and condemn the hateful protest that took place. Soon after, the YFS passed a motion supporting blocking any "representatives" of Israel from speaking on campus. FSWC has demanded York University's administration to take control of the university and immediately address the growing hatred toward Jews on campus.
McGill University student newspaper and student council's antisemitism denounced by administration
In the span of just one month, both McGill University's student council and student newspaper were criticized for incidences of antisemitism. In November, an editorial by McGill Daily's editors falsely described Zionism as a “colonial movement,” a “racist attitude” and “a violent practice." Prior to publishing this piece, the editors also refused to publish a letter to the editor written by two Jewish students decrying the paper's previous antisemitic description of Zionism. The letter to the editor was ultimately published in the same issue as the editorial after McGill administration threatened to pull Daily funding. A month later, administration had to step in once again after a Jewish student was threatened by the Students' Society of McGill University Legislative Council with removal from the Board of Directors if she refused to cancel a trip to Israel funded by Hillel Montreal. An approved motion calling the trip a "conflict of interest" was later overturned by the Board of Directors following a meeting between SSMU's president and university administration.
University of Toronto student groups guilty of antisemitism, anti-Israel bias
After voting to ratify the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee as a standing committee in February, the University of Toronto Graduate Students' Union took another step in exposing their blatant antisemitism after a member of its Board of Directors told a Jewish student that a motion to support a kosher food campaign may not be put forward because it was backed by a "pro-Israel" student group. The UTGSU released a statement afterward apologizing for the incident, followed by another statement announcing the member has submitted her resignation "as a result of the antisemitic comments."
Earlier this year, an event organized by UofT's Students Against Israeli Apartheid was set to have a man accused of being a member of the terror organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine by Canada Border Services Agency and was ordered to be deported from Canada speak on campus. After notifying UofT administration about the event, the event was moved off campus.
Antisemitism in media: Hate-filled Your Ward News continues distribution, Edmonton Journal publishes antisemitic cartoon
The year began with a guilty verdict against the publisher and editor of Your Ward News for willfully promoting hatred against Jewish people and women through their publication. While members of the Jewish community applauded the court's decision, the paper continued to be circulated in several Toronto neighbourhoods until the offenders were handed sentences in August.
Over the summer, the Edmonton Journal published in its paper an antisemitic cartoon similar to drawing of Jews Nazis used in their propaganda. The cartoon, which portrayed the Capital One hack, showed an old man with a hooked nose typing at a laptop with the words “data hacker” – despite the alleged hacker being a 33-year-old woman. The newspaper ultimately apologized for the cartoon, stating the resemblance was unintentional and it will re-examine procedures they have in place "to vet editorial content to avoid future such occurrences."
Antisemitic anti-Israel group runs hateful campaign targeting Jewish community
What started as an anti-Israel rally during the annual Walk with Israel - during which a man was filmed yelling "Heil Hitler" and calling for Jewish people to be killed - spiraled into a hateful, antisemitic campaign targeting the GTA's Jewish community. The campaign run by the group Canadian Defenders for Human Rights (CD4HR) has included promoting the boycott of local Jewish businesses such as a dental office and a store selling Israeli products, harassing Jewish individuals and institutions - including a politician, rabbi and the Israeli consulate in Toronto - and running daily propaganda campaigns on social media promoting hatred and demonization of the Jewish community.
Political candidates' antisemitic conduct exposed
The Liberal Party's release of one of its candidates following antisemitism allegations was followed by exposure of other candidates' antisemitism, including a Green Party candidate and NDP candidate. FSWC urged the Green Party to drop its candidate due to antisemitic social media posts in which the candidate supported BDS, called Zionism a "made-up cult" and stated Israelis need "mental health workers" so they can "get over" the Holocaust, as well as urged the NDP to drop its candidate after a video surfaced of her teaching viewers how to affix anti-Israel stickers to Israeli products.
Hate-motivated messages posted in six locations throughout Burlington
In June, Halton Regional Police launched an extensive hate crime investigation after hate-motivated messages were found at six different locations in Burlington - including an antisemitic poster placed on a traffic post and antisemitic imagery on the front doors of the Burlington Art Gallery and Burlington City Hall. Four months later, the police arrested two individuals in connection to these incidents.
Jewish man a victim of antisemitic assault in Montreal
Over the summer, a Jewish man reported that he was the victim of an antisemitic assault by a taxi driver. According to the victim, who was wearing a kippah at the time of the assault, the driver yelled "I won’t move for any f—ing Jews" after refusing to move his vehicle from the entrance of a condo underground garage. After the victim tried to take a photograph of the taxi number to file a complaint, the driver exited his vehicle and repeatedly punched him. Following the incident, the taxi company confirmed that the driver had been fired and in September, Montreal police confirmed they charged the driver.
Hateful Al Quds rally continues in Toronto despite condemnations
Despite receiving condemnations from Premier Doug Ford and other leaders from all levels of government, the Al Quds rally once again took place this year in Toronto. While the hatefest moved from its usual location, Queen's Park, to the US Consulate - after Toronto City Council unanimously passed several resolutions aimed at countering hate rallies on city property - it once again incited hate and violence against Jewish people.
Election signs of political candidates and synagogue vandalized with hate graffiti
While federal elections were right around the corner, candidates from all parties throughout Canada found their election signs to be the targets of swastika graffiti, including NDP candidate Rachel Blaney in BC, Conservative candidate Mariam Ishak in Quebec and Liberal candidate Karen Ludwig in New Brunswick. In letters to the candidates, FSWC expressed its concern and offered educational programs to the candidates' local communities.
A hate crime investigation was quickly underway and extra security put in place at Beth Jacob Synagogue in Hamilton after antisemitic graffiti was discovered there Shabbat morning. A swastika and the word Jews crossed out were found on the ground at the entrance of the parking lot along with graffiti in three other areas around the synagogue.
Sukkah vandalized outside rabbi's home, synagogue in York Region
During Sukkot, Rabbi Yossi Vorovitch found the sign on his sukkah vandalized outside his home, which also acts as the Chabad Jewish Centre of Georgina. Rabbi Vorovitch reported the incident to FSWC and York Regional Police after he had an altercation with the suspect who confessed to repeated trespassing of the property and to committing the recent vandalism. FSWC immediately pressed police for an aggressive investigation, resulting in a quick arrest of the suspect.
Canada's Federal Court rules wine made in West Bank can't be labelled as a product of Israel
Challenging a previous decision made by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to allow wines from the West Bank to be labelled as a product of Israel, Canada's Federal Court ruled in July that "Made in Israel" labels on wines made in the West Bank were "false, misleading and deceptive" - a decision that FSWC argued endorses the antisemitic BDS campaign. In September, the Canadian government announced that it will be appealing the court's decision.
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