ARE CANADIAN JEWS SAFE?

On December 8, Toronto City Council approved the installation of the so-called “vehicle mitigation measures” – concrete barriers designed to protect Nathan Phillips Square from potential vehicular terrorist rampages similar to the ones seen in Barcelona, London, Jerusalem, New York, Berlin, Nice and many other cities.

The barriers will cost the Toronto taxpayers $500,000. Additionally, $774,000 will be spent each year on guards to secure the perimeter.

In November, concrete barriers were installed at the Distillery District to protect the Christmas Market, a popular destination for Torontonians and tourists alike.

Jewish institutions in Canada are also beefing up security in light of increasing anti-Semitic hate crimes. According to B’nai Brith Canada, a leading Jewish human rights advocacy organization which tracks anti-Semitic incidents in the country, the Jewish community is disproportionately targeted for hate crimes and anti-Semitism is a growing problem in Canada.

Following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last Wednesday, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rallies were held in Germany, Sweden, France, United States and Canada. In Berlin, 12 demonstrators were arrested for burning Stars of David. In New York’s Times Square, the crowd chanted “there is only one solution, Intifada revolution” . Intifada refers to a violent Palestinian uprising against Israelis. In the Swedish City of Malmo , demonstrators screamed “we’re going to shoot the Jews”.

So-called “Days of Rage” against Israel and United States were also held in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

In 2016, following an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents, York Regional Police initiated increased patrols and presence at York Region’s synagogues and Jewish institutions. The beefed up security was put in place following several bomb threats to Jewish communities across Canada.

On October 30, 2017, Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale announced $98,800 in federal funding to the Beth Joseph Anshai Synagogue in Toronto under the “Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program”. Similarly, a synagogue in Winnipeg received $10,300 to enhance lighting and security measures on its property.

Michael Levitt, Member of Parliament for York Centre, welcomed the funding and said that he hopes it will bring greater peace of mind which will benefit the entire community. “We should all feel safe where we live, work and pray”, Levitt said in a statement.

In the past few years, Jewish institutions, including synagogues, community centres, kindergartens, shops and restaurants, have been targeted across Europe and North America

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According to the recently released Statistics Canada report , in 2016, Jews were the most targeted minority group for hate crimes in Canada. Despite perceptions of increased Islamophobia, police reported fewer hate crimes targeting the Muslim population and an increase of more than 20 per cent in hate crimes targeting Jews.

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