By Michael Levitt
This past weekend was a weekend unlike any other as Jews across Canada experienced a deeply disturbing display of violence, antisemitism and hate. Such was the degree of hostility; it calls into question the safety of Canada’s Jewish community. Lamentably, one-sided, biased media coverage of events in the Middle East is helping fuel this toxic situation.
Like many across the country, I watched in dismay and disbelief as anti-Israel protests in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal degenerated into ugly scenes of loathing.
At multiple demonstrations, police had to intervene as pro-Palestinian protestors targeted smaller groups of pro-Israel counter protesters with rocks and other projectiles, defiled Israeli flags with swastikas and then burned them for all to see, and chanted inciteful slogans like “Bomb Tel Aviv!” and “Death to Israel!” This is not the Canada I recognize.
In the GTA, Montreal and Edmonton protestors with Palestinian flags have targeted areas populated by Jews, actively seeking to harass and intimidate Jewish residents, already often on the receiving end of racist bile and worse.
According to Toronto Police Service, which has increased its patrols in Jewish neighbourhoods in recent days, Jews remain the minority group most targeted by hate crimes in the city, with a 43 per cent increase in antisemitic crimes recorded in the last year. Recent events, baring a stark and disturbing reminder of how quickly tensions can escalate, also trigger ominous echoes from Toronto’s past.