As hate-motivated and antisemitic incidents in Canada rise, law enforcement agencies face a daunting challenge in how best to respond to this growing scourge. FSWC actively engages with police forces through in-person and online training and professional development programs.
Every year, FSWC organizes a conference for police from the RCMP, military and provincial and municipal services across the country devoted to confronting hate-motivated crime. Over two days of workshops and presentations by experts, Building a Case Against Hate gives police new tools, approaches and knowledge that assist them in further investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.
As part of both its education and advocacy work, FSWC also organizes a yearly trip to Poland and Israel known as Compassion to Action. Participants include police chiefs who learn about the Holocaust, racism and intolerance.
Working with police in building a case against a hate crime perpetrator, especially if it proves successful, has a ripple effect. Not only can it result in the prosecution and possible imprisonment of a dangerous hate criminal but it can help the Jewish and other minority communities feel safer.
That’s why, whenever possible, FSWC assists both victims and police in building a strong case against those who perpetrate acts of illegal hate. As a first step, we help victims file criminal complaints of hate crimes including the preparation of impact statements. We also work with police and crown attorneys, contributing to the making of a solid case that will lead to the conviction and punishment of the perpetrator. We also track hate groups and individuals on an ongoing basis to identify potential threats as part of our support of law enforcement. We collect and deliver relevant evidence to police hate crime units as this research further prompts them to pursue the guilty parties.
Hate crimes that are not investigated or prosecuted let perpetrators off the hook, emboldening them and obscuring the full extent of the problem. As such, victims and witnesses must report hate crimes to law enforcement agencies. The impact of these crimes extends far beyond the direct victims and families as these actions threaten an entire society. Hence, the need for police to take these incidents extremely seriously and bring the people behind them to justice.
As an organization for which Holocaust education is central to its purpose, FSWC is particularly sensitive to the impact of Holocaust denial and distortion. Whether the result of malice or ignorance, the minimizing or dismissing of the Holocaust is doubly offensive. It not only violates the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and of Holocaust survivors, but undermines efforts to ensure such a genocide never recurs.
Through our advocacy and communication work, we fight back against the trivialization and denial of the Holocaust through the falsification of documented history.
We highlight false comparisons between present-day events and the Holocaust. We call out the offensive co-opting of Holocaust-related symbols and language by political activists that downplays the enormity of the Nazi crimes against humanity.
We also work with a range of public bodies to support Holocaust commemorations such as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is marked each year by ceremonies featuring survivors telling their stories.
An important part of FSWC’s mandate is assisting Jews and others in Canada who’ve been victimized by illegal acts of antisemitism. Incidents can include threats, physical violence, verbal abuse, arson, robbery, and damage to one’s property, each of which can constitute a criminal offence.
We focus our work on supporting and guiding victims as they navigate the often-challenging legal system and seek to hold perpetrators accountable.
To that end, we encourage anyone who has been subjected to a hate-motivated incident or simply witnessed it to contact us so we provide them with assistance, including help in the follow-up with the relevant authorities. Depending on the specific incident, we can help people targeted in a hate crime with the formal complaint process in their organization, and when applicable, how to navigate the accountability system.
For all the benefits gained from the internet in terms of easy access to information and services, it has become a boundless source of hate. In recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, antisemitic hate propagated on social media and other online platforms. This content takes many forms – Holocaust denial; promotion of false, harmful myths and conspiracies about Jews and Israel; glorification of violence against Jews; to cite just a few.
The internet’s speed and reach make it difficult for governments to enforce national hate laws in the virtual world. Making it more challenging is the fact that it's not always easy to discern when hateful content on the internet goes from being offensive to illegal, as the line between hate speech and free speech can be a thin one.
The proliferation of online antisemitism has clear implications for people’s views and behaviours. Too often, we’ve seen how hate speech online is followed by hate crimes targeting the Jewish community in the offline world.
When FSWC discovers online antisemitism originating in Canada that we feel is criminal, we notify the relevant authorities and, depending on the situation, publicly denounce the posts and those behind them. As part of our work in this area, we assist law enforcement as they contend with this scourge.
At the same time, we actively engage in policy advocacy with the relevant government authorities on both the federal and provincial levels. In that context, we have developed and proposed policies and advocated for new legislation. In the private sector, we have conducted outreach to social media companies, focusing primarily on solutions on increasing vigilance and enforcing a zero tolerance for online hate and antisemitism on their respective platforms.