Community Intelligence Brief: August 16, 2023

August 16, 2023


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FSWC Commemorates 90th Anniversary of Canada’s Worst-Ever Antisemitic Riot

Today, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) marks the 90th anniversary of the infamous 1933 Christie Pits Riot in Toronto. Fueled by antisemitism, violence erupted following a baseball game at the Christie Pits park at which one of the teams was mostly Jewish. After Nazi sympathizers unfurled a large banner with a swastika, fighting quickly ensued as Italian residents came to the defence of Jewish residents during the six hours of brawls and beatings. Considered one of the largest race riots in Canadian history, it took place mere months after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and amid widespread antisemitism in Canada.

This evening, FSWC will be participating in the Rally Against Racism event commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Christie Pits Riot, hosted by Toronto City Councillor Mike Colle.

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Canadian Irwin Cotler, Who Helped Free Mandela, Given Prestigious Human-Rights Award

Former Canadian attorney-general and justice minister Irwin Cotler, Canada's Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism, says he was only five or six years old when his father told him his mission in life would be, the pursuit of justice. Forty-odd years later, Cotler would help free Nelson Mandela from prison. Earlier this month, he was announced as the recipient of the 2023 Lantos Human Rights Prize.

"A big mazel tov to Irwin on being this year's Lantos Human Rights Prize honouree," FSWC stated in an online post. "A longtime champion of freedom and inspiration to many, Irwin Cotler has dedicated his life to the promotion and protection of human rights and the pursuit of justice."

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This Holocaust Survivor Left a Trove of Artwork When She Died. It's Now on Display in London, Ont.

Poland-born Holocaust survivor Halina Robinson, who died in 2021, was a breakthrough cancer researcher at Western University. Now, her art collection is on display at an exhibit called LIFE/FORMS at London's Satellite Project Space on Dundas Street until Aug. 19.

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Yad Vashem Using AI Technology to Restore Shoah Memory

Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem announced Sunday that it has started using state-of-the-art AI technology including a new image detection capability to help comb through the world’s largest archive documentation of the Holocaust.

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Israel Evacuates More Than 200 Ethiopians from Conflict Region

Israel said it evacuated some 200 Israelis and local Jews from conflict zones in Ethiopia last Thursday. The evacuees included 174 people from the city of Gondar in the Amhara province, which has historically been a gathering spot for people waiting for authorization to move to Israel.

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Makkabi Berlin Becomes the First Jewish Team to Play in the German Cup

Makkabi, which was founded by Holocaust survivors in 1970, had already made history just by qualifying for the 64-team German Cup - by winning the Berlin Cup for the first time - to become the first Jewish club to take part since the tournament was started under the Nazis in 1935.

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Dozens of Synagogues Targeted by ‘Online Trolls,’ Disrupting Services: ADL

Dozens of synagogues across different states have been targeted by “online trolls,” which has disrupted services, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The Jewish advocacy organization said a series of antisemitic “swatting” incidents and fake bomb threats have targeted at least 26 synagogues and two ADL offices in 12 states over the past month. Swatting refers to the act of making false claims to the police with the intention of provoking an aggressive response from authorities at a particular location.

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Sir Ben Kingsley: I Play Jewish Roles Because My Grandmother Was Antisemitic

In an interview with Parade magazine, actor Sir Ben Kingsley revealed why he has appeared in many Holocaust films and played a number of Jewish characters over the course of his career. He shared his experience as a schoolboy watching a television documentary series that examined the Second World War and the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and within the same few days conversing with his maternal grandmother "who was inexplicably but quite vigorously antisemitic."

"As a child, it was very difficult for me, impossible for me to counter my grandmother’s outburst, but I think a seed was planted in me that said to me, 'One day I will speak,'" he said.

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Christina Aguilera Puts on ‘Beautiful’ Show at First-Ever Israel Concert

“Shalom!” she cried out to the 14,000 people who turned out to the Rishon Lezion Live Park to hear the Grammy-award-winning singer. “It’s so beautiful to be here tonight… this is my very first time here and I’m so excited.”

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Report Antisemitism and News of Concern to FSWC

If you would like to report antisemitism or news of concern to Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, please email

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