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Anti-Semitic incidents spike 92% in B.C. during 2023: B’nai Brith Canada

B’nai Brith Canada says 2023 was “worst year ever recorded” for Anti-Semitic incidents
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike east of Rafah, Gaza Strip, Monday, May 6, 2024. B’nai Brith Canada reports a spike in anti-Semitic incidents in Canada that coincided with the aftermath of the Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7. (AP Photo/Ismael Abu Dayyah)

A new report by B’nai Brith Canada finds a 92 per cent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in British Columbia as such incidents “dramatically increased to unprecedented levels” across Canada in 2023.

The report published Monday (May 6) “reflects the number of anti-Semitic incidents” reported to and monitored by the organization, law enforcement and other sources. Incidents in B.C. rose to 465 in 2023 from 2022. The report notes that the reported incidents fall inside and outside the Criminal Code of Canada’s definition of a hate crime. B’nai Brith Canada uses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism and categorizes incidents by location (online, in-person, over the phone) and type (violence, vandalism, harassment).

Overall, the report said the number of anti-Semitic incidents captured by B’nai Brith Canada rose by almost 110 per cent compared to 2022 to almost 5,800 incidents to mark what the organization calls the “worst year ever recorded” in the history of audit.

Richard Robertson, B’nai Brith Canada’s director of research and advocacy, said two separate periods of “sustained levels of heightened incitement” contributed to the increase. The first happened in May and June, the second from October to December, following Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

“We hope that the statistics and analysis contained within will furnish the Jewish community, its allies, and officials across Canada, with a deeper insight into the stark reality facing Jewish Canadians,” Robertson said. “Significant efforts must be undertaken to thwart the epidemic of anti-Jewish hate presently plaguing the nation.”

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The increase reported by B’nai Brith matches findings from other sources that have reported

B’nai Brith Canada released the report on the occasion of Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, whose observance started at sundown Sunday (May 5).

The systematic extermination of six million Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany and its allies during the Second World War also loomed in the backdrop of B’nai Brith Canada’s report.

“It is not undue to suggest that not since the Holocaust has Canada’s Jewish community faced such a legitimate threat to its survival,” Robertson said. “Such liminal danger has only amplified the need for a comprehensive review of the state of anti-Semitism in Canada.”

Several ceremonies marking Yom HaShoah were held Sunday as well as Monday in different parts of B.C., including at the provincial legislature in Victoria.

Speakers included Premier David Eby, representatives from the three opposition parties and independent MLA Selina Robinson. The former cabinet minister had left the NDP caucus in March saying she feels the party is not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism.

Robinson had resigned from cabinet on Feb. 5 following days of furor including pressure from extra-parliamentary groups aligned to the NDP after she had called the British-ruled Mandate upon which Israel was founded in 1948 a “crappy piece of land with nothing on it.”

Observances of Yom HaShoah are coinciding with on-going protest camps across university campuses in the United States and Canada, including B.C. at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria and the University of Vancouver Island.

The protests at North American colleges are in response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which came after Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7. Militants killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took roughly 250 hostages.

The Health Ministry in Gaza says Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in its offensive to stamp out Hamas and Israel’s response has drawn criticism from large parts of the international communities, including other countries, international institutions and non-profit organizations.

-with files from Canadian Press

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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