By BERNIE BELLAN On April 17, 2023 B’nai Brith Canada released its annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents in Canada. The audit determined that there were fewer actual incidents of antisemitism in Canada in 2022 than in 2021, but incidents of online hate toward Jews had increased at a more rapid rate than physical instances of antisemitism.
Following are some excerpts from B’nai Brith’s 2022 audit:
There was a slight decrease of 1.1% in antisemitic incidents in Canada in 2022.
The decline, however, is far from reassuring. As revealed in the latest edition of B’nai Brith Canada’s Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, the level of hate against Jewish Canadians continued to be unacceptably high.
In 2012, the Jewish community sounded the alarm when our Audit documented 1,345 antisemitic incidents, the highest since we first began auditing in 1982. A decade later, in 2022, the number was an alarming 105.9% higher than that reported in 2012, and the second-highest total since B’nai Brith started tracking antisemitic incidents in Canada 41 years ago.
Only in 2021 did the Audit record more antisemitic incidents in this country. There were 2,799 incidents in 2021 compared with 2,769 incidents in 2022.
“We are alarmed and disturbed by the figures in this Audit,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Although there was an almost-insignificant decrease from last year, antisemitic incidents continue to occur at an unacceptable and dangerous pace. Frankly, the amount of hate directed at Jewish Canadians is shameful.
“B’nai Brith Canada vehemently opposes all forms of hate, racism and bigotry, but painfully recognizes that the elevated level of hate against Jews in this country remains constant.”
B’nai Brith’s Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which tracks and monitors trends in antisemitic hatred, is the authoritative document on the state of anti-Jewish bigotry in Canada, cited regularly by media, law-enforcement agencies, government bodies and human-rights agencies worldwide.
The 2022 Audit found:
- A total of 2,769 antisemitic incidents, the second-highest recorded by B’nai Brith since it began auditing in Canada in 1982;
- Nearly eight antisemitic incidents daily;
- More than 74% of the incidents occurred online;
- A total of 404 acts of antisemitic vandalism, up from 264 incidents in 2021.
- A spike of 64.8% in antisemitic incidents in Ontario compared with 2021.
Ontario was the only province to experience an increase in antisemitism in 2022.
Some notable antisemitic incidents in Canada last year:
- In Toronto, protestors called for the destruction of Israel, the world’s sole Jewish state;
- In Thornhill, Ont., Neo-Nazi graffiti, swastikas and “zieg heil” were spotted on signs at a park;
- In Calgary, a young Jewish hockey player was harassed by his teammates on three separate occasions. The incidents included the teammates asking, “Shouldn’t you have a star on your arm?” and saying, “The shower smells like Auschwitz.”;
- In Moncton, antisemitic graffiti was found in a school bathroom, reading: “No Jews – None at all.”;
- In Richmond, B.C., graffiti was found at a train station, reading: “Jewish communism is upon us” and “Covid is Jewish.”;
- In Vancouver, a therapist received a threatening email saying: “I hope the next time you visit Israel, a Hamas rocket flattens you like the Zionist pig you are.”;
- In Winnipeg, threatening graffiti was discovered at a college, reading: “Kill Jews” with a drawing of a swastika;
- In Montreal, a man leaving an Israel Day rally holding a folded Israeli flag was assaulted by two young men, who hit the man in the head with a stick and assaulted a bystander who attempted to intervene.
Notwithstanding the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions by most provinces and territories toward the end of 2021, in-person harassment continued to decline in 2022. In 2020, B’nai Brith registered 620 cases of in-person harassment, which dropped to 367 cases in 2021. In 2022, we tabulated just 284 such incidents, representing a 22.6% drop from 2021.
However, hate has increasingly moved online. In 2022, there were 2,056 cases of online hate directed at Jews, representing 74.3% of the total incidents recorded.
B’nai Brith’s data indicate that online hate has more than doubled over the past five years. Many of these incidents constitute open threats of violence, murder or genocide against Jews. Our work tracking online hate incidents in recent years has resulted in criminal charges being brought against several individuals.
Winnipeg Jewish Theatre to open season with world premiere of “Pals”
By BERNIE BELLAN The opening show of Winnipeg Jewish Theatre’s 2023-24 season promises to be a clever and poignant take on relationships between men and women, when “Pals” makes its world premiere on November 9 in the Berney Theatre, running until November 19.
“Pals” is the third two-person show created by the team of Diane Flacks and Richard Greenblatt. Interestingly, when I spoke with Flacks and Greenblatt while they took a break from rehearsing the play in Toronto, they told me that their previous two two-person plays also had one word titles – with four letters in both: “Sibs” and “Care.”
“Pals” is the story of two friends, told over a 25-year time period. Their friendship survives many tribulations, including both characters entering and exiting many other relationships. The play uncovers the underlying tensions that permeate all friendships.
“Pals” opens with the two characters meeting for the first time. I asked Diane and Richard whether the notion of their having sex ever enters into the plot, but Richard was quick to exclaim, “We don’t have sex.”
Diane also noted that, in the case of her character, she is married to another woman. (Diane is a lesbian in real life.)
The fact that the characters maintain a friendship though becomes a source of friction within their respective relationships. It raises the question: Can you have an intimate, albeit platonic, relationship, with a member of the opposite sex all the while you’re in a physical relationship with someone else?
I asked whether the characters in “Pals” are Jewish (which both Diane and Richard are), and the answer was “yes.”
Both Diane and Richard have had past associations with the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre. Richard’s goes back a very long time – when he directed the critically acclaimed “League of Nathans” in 1995.
Diane Flacks appeared in a one-night performance of a show in 2021 called “25 Questions for a Jewish Mother,” which was a part of that year’s Tarbut festival. There were no in-person events that year, due to Covid, but “Jewish Mother” was available on Zoom and had a huge audience.
In addition to writing for the stage, Diane Flacks has written for TV, including Working the Engels, Baroness Von Sketch Show, Young Drunk Punk, PR, and The Broad Side.
Richard Greenblatt has performed in theatres across Canada and abroad, as well as in feature films, television and radio. He co-wrote 2 Pianos 4 Hands, which played on five continents and in over 150 cities since it opened in 1996.
Pals is directed by the internationally acclaimed director Jillian Keiley. More information, tickets and 5-show subscriptions can be found at: www.wjt.ca. You can also reach WJT by phone at (204) 477-7478.
To watch a preview video from Pals, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2W0VmHHFbA
Simkin Centre introduces Friday afternoon Shabbat services – open to all
By BERNIE BELLAN (Posted Oct. 31) The Simkin Centre held its first ever Friday afternoon Erev Shabbat service this past Friday (Oct. 27), led by Rabbi Matthew Leibl.
There were more than 30 residents in attendance, along with various other outside guests. The service was approximately 45 minutes long and was filled with stories and songs associated with Friday evening Shabbats – some from Rabbi Leibl’s own childhood and some from more recent years.
The Friday afternoon Erev Shabbat services are now to become a regular features at the Simkin Centre and are open to anyone to attend.
To watch a short clip of Rabbi Leibl introducing his first Friday afternoon service click https://youtu.be/hLSrV18K58o
The complete text of MP Marty Morantz’s speech at the community vigil for Israel on October 10
Tonight we are all Israelis!
Conservatives stand with Israel.
Pierre Poilievre stands with Israel.
On Saturday we woke up to unspeakable images.
We must stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel as it defends itself from these criminal and barbarous acts.
On Shabbat, Hamas brutally invaded Israel, invaded homes, killing hundreds, taking hostage hundreds.
More Jews were killed in Saturday’s attack than in any single day since the Holocaust.
Some 1500 human beings killed in a single day would be like 6000 Canadians being murdered in a single attack.
They were children, babies, men, women.
They were young people just out listening to music at a dance party.
This was an unprecedented brutal attack.
As we speak Hamas is threatening to execute innocent hostages.
This outrage cannot, must not stand.
Don’t let anyone tell you Hamas is the legitimate voice of the Palestinian people. It is not a government.
They are a genocidal murderous and evil death cult and they must be defeated.
But friends, we have seen evil before.
Jews have been persecuted for millennia, but we have survived.
Conservatives unequivocally condemn the invasion of Israel by Hamas terrorists and the sadistic violence that Hamas has carried out against innocent civilians.
Now is the time for moral clarity. There is no moral equivalency between democratic Israel and the butchers of Hamas.
There is no response, no matter how strong, that would be disproportionate to the crimes Hamas has committed.
Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks and respond against the attackers – as any other country would.
Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, said, “If you will it, it is no dream.”
In 1948 that dream became a reality – a homeland in Israel, the promised land.
Working together Israelis turned a desert into an oasis.
An island of democracy surrounded by a sea of autocracy.
A Jewish state where Jews could live in peace free from fear and persecution.
Let there be no doubt. Israel is the ancient and indigenous homeland of the Jewish people.
We will not let the butchers of Hamas take that dream, long realized, away from us.
Many politicians will stand with Israel when it is easy.
But listen to what they say when it is hard.
They will talk about “both sides.”
I’m here to tell you that there is only one side.
The side of morality.
The side of democracy.
The side of Israel.
We see too often politicians at the United Nations unfairly singling out Israel for criticism.
I will always stand against the unfair singling out of the Middle East’s only democracy.
Already there are calls for Israel to deescalate.
I ask you.
Would any country deescalate after having its people slaughtered in cold blood?
I wish the people of Israel and its brave soldiers Godspeed on their mission to defend the promised land from pure evil.
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said:
Through fire and water Canada will stand with you.
Am Yisrael Chai!