The Rise of Islamic Antisemitism in Canada

Does Islamic antisemitism exist in Canada? We know that Jews are the most targeted religious group, with 221 antisemitic hate crimes in 2016. There were 139 hate crimes directed against Muslims. With a Canadian Jewish population of 329,500, and a Canadian Muslim population of 1,053,945, there was an antisemitic hate crime for every 1491 Canadian Jews, and an anti-Muslim hate crime for every 7582 Muslims. On a per capita basis, Jews were by far the most targeted religious group.

While the authors of many hate crimes are unknown, some cases stand out. Muslim Sleiman Elmerhebi firebombed the United Talmud Torahs Jewish elementary school in Montreal. He was convicted and jailed, and his mother given probation as an accessory after the fact.

While Muslim attackers of Jews often keep a low profile and are not found by police, Muslim religious and political figures, whose job it is to speak out, have been frank about their views of Jews:

In Canada, at the Al-Andalous Islamic Centre in the St-Laurent borough of Montreal, Wael al-Ghitawi, the center’s imam, in November 2014, and Sayed al-Ghitawi, who was visiting from the Middle East, in August 2014, both called for the death of Jews. The sermons came to public attention in February 2017, when YouTube videos of the talks were translated into English. In February 2017, two Jewish groups filed complaints against the imams with the Montreal police. Quebec’s prosecutors, however, chose not to proceed, arguing that that too much time had elapsed.

Later, in July 2017, a Quebec judge issued an arrest warrant for an imam who had made several violent anti-Semitic statements at another Montreal mosque in December 2016. Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa al-Nasr, a Palestinian-Jordanian, while visiting Canada had said in the video that Allah has ordained that Jews should be killed by Muslims “at the end of time.” He was apparently drawing on the same Jew-killing hadith (Sahih al-Bukhari Book Number 56 Hadith Number 791 – Muflihun) invoked by the U.S. imams. After an investigation by the Montreal police hate crimes unit, he was charged under Section 319(2) of the Criminal Code with the willful promotion of hatred.

Canadian campuses are home to the organizations Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association which actively campaign against Israel in such events as “Israel Apartheid Week,” and which sponsor boycotts of Israel and a wide array of anti-Israel speakers. Although these anti-Israel advocates, many of them Middle Eastern and Muslim in origin, claim not to be antisemitic even while denying Jews a 3,000 year history in their historical homeland, their animosity toward Jews repeatedly breaks out. For example, a Facebook post celebrating an anti-Israel event at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology asserted that “Jews are rodents.” Other media posts advised Jewish students to “Go back to Palestine.” At Toronto’s Ryerson University, Holocaust education was opposed with a staged walkout.

At McMaster University, numerous incidents have been documented of students writing antisemitic social media posts. Nadera Masad, a member of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, tweeted “hitler should have took you all.”

[Rawan] Qaddoura — a political science and economics major who unsuccessfully ran for the SPHR presidency in 2016 — tweeted in September 2012, “i just don’t like jews lol #sorrynotsorry”

On August 2013, she wrote, “‘@judeZAdude: The whole world is controlled by Zionist Jews and until you understand that, life will never make sense.'”

Qaddoura also repeatedly praised Hitler, tweeting in January 2012, “I honestly wish I was born at the time of the second world war just to see the genius, Hitler, at work.”

She doubled down on these sentiments in June 2013, writing, “everytime I` read about Hitler, I fall in love all over again.”

On July 2015, [McMaster student Esra] Bengizi tweeted a photo of Hitler — captioned with heart emojis — alongside the fake quote, “The only Religion I respect is Islam. The only prophet I admire is the Prophet Muhammad.”

A year earlier, she wrote, “‘@KMKurd: Where is hitler when u need one?’ I literally ask this every day.” On the same Twitter thread, she added, “hitler did more than just kill. He was also a great leader & role model to many…”

Bengizi’s admiration of Hitler sometimes accompanied tweets that were explicitly antagonistic towards Jews. ‘I’m actually going to the rule the world and get rid of anyone who doesn’t have basic common sense or if youre yahoodi [Jewish]’ #QueenE, she tweeted on May 2014. Bengizi praised Hitler as ‘so intelligent’ later on the same thread.

Do not worry about Jew-hatred at McMaster, however. The McMaster administration is on the case. Its “Equity and Inclusion” committee is promoting an anti-Islamophobia campaign, seeking out instances of possible hostility toward Muslims, and publicizing them widely.

Undoubtedly there are Canadian Muslims who do not share the antisemitic views quoted above, and others whose prejudice is more on the mild side. But strong antisemitic views are apparently as prevalent in the Canadian Muslim community, as in the international Muslim community.

When antisemitism is integral to orthodox Islam, how could it be otherwise?

Islamic antisemitism raises serious questions about the exuberant and thoughtless support for multiculturalism and open-borders immigration celebrated among some Canadian political parties and the Canadian media commentariat. Let us be frank: as is all too clear from the recent European experience, importing large numbers of Muslims means importing Islamic antisemitism. Hate crimes against Canadian Jews are already on an upward trajectory. Is it the Canadian Government’s policy to encourage an increase in antisemitic hate crimes?

Philip Carl Salzman is Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Senior Fellow of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and Fellow of the Middle East Forum.