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Canada also sees ‘uptick’ in antisemitism – but no hate crime surge

    The evacuation of a Jewish community centre in Vancouver last Sunday after a bomb threat is the latest example of what some Jewish organisations are saying is an increase in antisemitic incidents in Canada.

    “There is clearly, clearly an uptick,” President of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies, Avi Benlolo, told the JC.

    The bomb threat was the second in a week for the Jewish Community Centre of Vancouver.

    Last week, a Jewish community centre in Toronto was evacuated after it received a bomb threat. Threats have also been made in nearby London, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta.

    There has also been a rash of graffiti with swastikas in Ontario. Several drawings of swastikas have been found around Hamilton, south of Toronto, in the last few weeks, as well as around the University of Toronto campus in the fall.

    Public broadcaster CBC reported one of the cases in Hamilton was accompanied by the words "gas the Jews" spray-painted on the ground.

    Also in February, notes were left on doors in a Toronto apartment building reading "No Jews", and swastikas were drawn on them.

    Mr Benlolo blamed the raise on a “perfect storm” from both the far right, with a resurgence of white nationalism, but also from the far left, which pushes campaigns like the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS).”

    “It’s compounding, when you have many different groups saying the same thing… I think [with] more people, the stronger they feel, the more emboldened they feel.”

    In a statement, the Toronto police said they had not seen an increase in hate crimes.

    Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said the recent bomb threats targeting JCCs in North America were “unprecedented in scale”.

    Over 100 threats were made to American JCCs in January and February, leading all 100 senators to ask the government to help provide security for the centres. 

    Mr Benlolo said politicians need to condemn these acts more strongly, such as by holding a news conference instead of sending out a tweet. He fears what may happen in the future if little is done to combat antisemitism.

    “This is nothing. In a few years, there’s going to be much more if greater measures aren’t taken into consideration.”