Thursday, April 1, 2004

Anti-Semitism escalating in Canada

Date: Thursday 1 April 2004
Subj: Anti-Semitism escalating in Canada.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


While this report on anti-Semitism is centred around incidents in and material out of Canada, it really pertains to global anti-Semitism which has, in the words of a recent Canadian report, "taken root across the globe".

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ANTI-SEMITISM ESCALATING IN CANADA
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Every year since 1982, the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada has published the "Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents" which is "a summary and analysis of reported incidents of antisemitic vandalism and harassment." (Link 1)

The Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2003 Introduction states:

The principal causes for concern are four-fold.
* First, it appears that ingrained prejudices based on traditional antisemitic stereotypes are re-surfacing.

* Second, antisemitic messaging is being imported into Canada from abroad, sometimes in the guise of anti-Israel propaganda, but more often in less subtle ways over the Internet or through foreign language ethnic publications.

* Third, there are indications of a cross-pollination between fringe elements in the far Right and in the far Left, which borrow freely from each other's imagery and rhetoric, as well as from the motifs of the rejectionist front of the Arab world.

* Finally, the greatest threat to the security of Jewish community institutions is no longer from the neo-Nazi groups as in the past, but rather from elements linked to international terrorist groups.

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The Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2003 was released in mid March 2004, just as a rash of anti-Semitic attacks left Canadians soul-searching. In a 23 March editorial comment in the Globe and Mail entitled "Anti-Semitism's stain" it was reported, "Two weekends in a row of anti-Jewish vandalism in the Toronto area have suddenly brought an age-old hatred into stomach-churning display. The vandalism has confronted the city with the problem of how to deal with a hatred that will not die.

"Vandalism falls short of physical violence, but there is a palpable threat in the sort of sinister graffiti, replete with swastikas, that were spray-painted onto the front doors or cars of 13 Jewish-owned homes, recognizable by the mezuzah, or sacred scroll, affixed to the house. This past weekend, 22 Jewish graves were desecrated, as were a synagogue, a Jewish school and even a clothing-donation box. One Jewish group says the scope of the vandalism suggests a planned campaign."

Also on 23 March, Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com) Faith and Ethics reporter Leslie Scrivener quoted Mark Webber, co-director of the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies at York University, as saying that he believes the threshold of what is acceptable in conversation about Jews and Israel has been lowered. "It's more okay to be anti-Semitic - things that were perhaps thought 10 to 15 years ago are now said and done."

Lowering the bar on what is deemed unacceptable is not only immoral, it is exceedingly dangerous as the Globe and Mail editorial pointed out, "From 'polite' anti-Semitism to the ruder kind is no great distance."

The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2003 reported the same trend. Not only has the incidence of anti-Semitic attacks doubled in the period between 2001-2003 (and this is estimated to represent around 10% of all cases as most go unreported), but increasingly, anti-Semitism is being tolerated.

Rochelle Wilner, National President of B'nai Brith Canada told Talon News, "[Over] the past few years, the bar has been raised on what victims themselves, as well as society in general, are prepared to tolerate. A process of desensitization, both within and outside the Jewish community, has meant that what was once seen as offensive and unacceptable is now being viewed as less serious and even routine. Visibly orthodox Jews in particular have come to view such harassment as inevitable." (Link 2)

On 23 March the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada released a statement condemning anti-Semitic attacks, and affirming "the dignity of all persons", "the biblical principles to love our neighbour and to affirm justice for all people" and the Biblical calling for Christians to be peacemakers.

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The Audit classifies anti-Semitic acts into three main categories - harassment (anti-Jewish propaganda, abuse and threats of violence), vandalism, and violence.

Violent attacks include that of "a visibly orthodox man who was viciously attacked with a hammer on the way home from synagogue" in Toronto in February 2003. He was not robbed, but he was left with brain injuries. Also in Toronto, in November 2003, "a series of anti-Semitic bullying episodes at a local public school targeting a Jewish student culminated in a physical assault against the victim." In Montreal "a visibly orthodox Jewish woman, returning from
synagogue, was beaten up by four men" in May 2003. Also in Montreal, "an elderly Jewish woman was beaten up in a park by two female teenagers of apparent Arab origin".

In the chapter entitled "The Context", the 2003 Audit details how anti-Semitism is occurring in several contexts, including "Right wing anti-Semitism", "Anti-Semitism of the Left", and "Global
Anti-Semitism", as well as in the media, on campuses, and in academia in general.

RIGHT-WING ANTI-SEMITISM

Canadian right-wing groups are rallying around the Holocaust denier Ernst Zundal, who was deported from USA to Canada in February 2003 and is presently battling with the courts in his efforts to achieve refugee status. The 2003 Audit reports, "Nazi symbolism was the predominant motif of the reported incidents of vandalism/graffiti in 2003." Hate propaganda messages such as "We the Aryan nations. Help rid Canada of the evil influence of the Jews", is disseminated through graffiti, literature and anonymous e-mail.

The Audit also reports that in 2003, there were four reports of "music hatefests" in Canada. "The Toronto Hate Crime Police Unit reports that 'organized hate groups maintained a presence throughout the year with at least three hate rock concerts and other activities.' In the same report, the Toronto police force also notes that 'web-based hate is very popular'.

"The US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B'nai Brith has reported that antisemitic and racist rock music is a major recruiting tool and source of funding for hate groups. It is estimated that extremist companies sell millions of dollars of hate rock CD's over the Internet. Canadians can easily purchase these CD's in the same way. Many hate group members have been drawn to White Supremacist ideologies by listening to hate rock on the Internet, on CD's and at concerts featuring groups such as Angry Aryans, Blue Eyed Devils and H8Machine, as well as the Canadian group Numbskulls.

"Web message boards run by neo-Nazi or White Supremacist groups, such as stormfront.org and its Canadian link, appear to be widely used, providing a key source of communication and recruitment."

The report concludes, "It is clear that extreme right wing groups are becoming more devious in their efforts to recruit widely and infiltrate popular culture. They take advantage of Canada's democratic traditions of free speech and expression, at the same time as they attempt to find new ways of skirting the law."

LEFT-WING ANTI-SEMITISM

The Audit reports that "anti-Jewish rhetoric [is] increasingly emanating from the far left. This trend points to a progressively radicalized anti-globalist movement joining forces with Marxist, anti-American, and anarchist elements to vilify the Jews as the root of all the world's problems.

"Evidence of this new breed of antisemitism is reflected in the findings, discussed earlier, of the European Union-commissioned report "Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU" (link 3), which blamed the upsurge in anti-Jewish acts on European Muslims and the European far left. So disturbing were the EU's findings that its Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia allegedly shelved the report when it found that Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were implicated in many of the incidents.

"It should also be noted that the EU report documented high occurrences of extreme left-wing elements employing media and antisemitic stereotyping in their criticism of Israel to get their
antisemitic message across."

THE LEFT-RIGHT ALLIANCE

The 2003 Audit examines "the convergence between historically left wing and right wing opponents", made possible by their common hatred of Jews. This is illustrated with several examples. One trend noted is for anti-globalisation rallies to have "Palestinian flags flown alongside Marxist flags, as well as Israeli flags superimposed with swastikas. At these same rallies protesters carried coffins, which displayed photographs of U.S. President George W. Bush, and/or Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and/or that of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. . Thus, seemingly disparate agendas fused into one seamless anti-Israel and anti-Jewish message."

Jim Hauser, reported on the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2003 for Talon News. His article, entitled "Anti-Semitism on Rise in Canada" provides an excellent overview and analysis. (Link 2)

Hauser reports that the annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents "indicates several disturbing trends including an increase in the number of 'hate rock concerts' featuring musicians espousing Nazi principles, an increase in incidents perpetrated by Canadians of Mid-East decent against Jewish citizens, and the apparent alliance between Nazi and Mid-Eastern groups in instigating orchestrated actions against Jews."

The EU report, "Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU", also noted this contemporary Nazi-Arab alliance, commenting, "Since the end of the 1990s there has been a dramatic increase in the number of homepages present on the web from far-right groups and parties, which quite often also have ties to radical Islamic fundamentalists." (p 9)

The EU report also notes "Holocaust denial" thought, that plays a central role in European right-wing extremism and propaganda, becomes employable ideologically for radical Islamist groups in their struggle against Israel. "Here a learning process has taken place in which 'revisionist' thought has been adopted by some people in the Arab world." (p10)

Of course there is nothing new about the concept of a Nazi-Arab alliance. Nothing unites xenophobic white supremacists and Arab Islamists like their shared rabid hated of Jews. This of course was most eloquently depicted by the co-operative relationship between the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini (who was on the Nazi pay-role) and Adolf Hitler during the Holocaust.

GLOBAL ANTI-SEMITISM

Concerning Global Anti-Semitism the Audit comments, "The increasing instances of antisemitism worldwide do not occur in a vacuum, and are part and parcel of the prevailing global atmosphere that allows for such poisoned sentiment to take root.

"Today's antisemitism, characterized by its global resurgence, has spilled over into the social, political and cultural arenas of the world's nations. No longer merely a European phenomenon, antisemitism has, sadly, taken root across the globe."


- Elizabeth Kendal


Links
1) The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada
http://www.bnaibrith.ca/league/league.htm

2) Anti-Semitism on Rise in Canada
By Jim Hauser, Talon News, 17 March 2004
http://www.talonnews.com/news/2004/march/0317_canada_antisemitism.shtml

3) Manifestations of anti-Semitism in the European Union
First Semester 2002
Synthesis Report
Draft 20 February 2003
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasite/images/iht_daily/D281103/eu_anti_semitism_report.rtf