One in six Canadians express views that may be considered antisemitic, while on the flip side, 78 percent of Canadians believe memories of the Holocaust memory must be kept alive, according to a recent survey.
The random survey, commissioned by Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) and conducted by Nanos Research, consisted of a sampling of 1,000 Canadians.
The survey found that around 15 percent, or 5 million, Canadians express views that can be construed as antisemitic.
It found that although Canada’s Jewish community makes up less than 1 percent of the country’s population, approximately 13 percent to 18 percent of Canadians believe that Jews in Canada have “too much influence” in the government, business world and media.
The Jewish community was the most targeted by hate crimes in 2016, accounting for 16 percent of all hate crimes across Canada. In 2016, some 221 police-reported hate crimes were against Jews — an increase of 24 percentage points from the 178 hate crimes reported in 2015.
Such crimes include graffiti and vandalism, including swastikas drawn on school walls, playgrounds and other communal areas. Other graffiti included “Hitler was right” on a highway north of Toronto, “Jews did 911” on a school in Vaughan, and antisemitic graffiti on a Jewish club poster at a school. According to the Canada’s 2017 statistics, from 2010 to 2016, more than 85 percent of hate crimes against the Jewish population were non-violent.
Québec displayed the highest percentage of intolerance on average, ranging from 19 percent to 27 percent who imitated the “too much influence” notion. Montreal, Québec’s largest city, has the second-largest Jewish population in Canada, consisting of a little more than 23 percent of the country’s Jewish community.
“Our survey also reveals continued racism and antisemitism in Quebec,” FSWC president and CEO Avi Benlolo told JNS. “Unfortunately, since the 1970s, the Jewish community has dwindled to a large extent in Montreal and surrounding areas because of antisemitism.”
Men polled were more likely than women to hold antisemitic viewpoints — 17.5 percent to 9 percent, respectively. Granted, these are not huge numbers, but something to be watched.
“As we expected, the good news is that nearly half of all Canadians do not express antisemitic attitudes, while a majority want to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive,” said Benlolo in a statement. “Still, if it’s true that around 15 percent of Canadians hold anti-Semitic views while around 35 percent are unsure, this is cause for alarm. It means we have to double down on our efforts to educate and advocate against antisemitism, hate and intolerance.”
Education efforts are directed at adults and children, but mostly geared towards non-Jews, who tend to be less aware of the Holocaust. Programs take place in public and private schools, as well as across communities, and for police, educators and other professionals.
Aedan O’Connor, a Jew who was born and raised in Toronto, where Jews are the most targeted group for hate crimes, echoed Benlolo’s sentiment. “I think that there will always be antisemites who think Jews have too much power, and that we shouldn’t stop Holocaust education to alleviate their anxieties,” she told JNS. “The majority believes there needs to be Holocaust education, and I concur.
Regarding how FSWC is creating awareness about antisemitism in Canada, “we continue to hold meetings with government officials to keep them aware of anti-Semitism in the country and the importance of supporting Holocaust education in schools,” Benlolo told JNS. “Earlier this year, the government of Canada provided a $177,000 grant to FSWC to grow our Holocaust-education programs and bring them to communities across the country.”