By CJR STAFF
Jews were once again the most targeted group for hate crimes in Toronto in 2019, according to the latest annual Toronto Police Service report on hate activity.
The report for 2019 reveals that 32 percent of the 139 hate crimes in Toronto last year targeted the Jewish community, even though Jews account for four percent of the city’s population.
In 2019, Jews, followed by the LGBTQ community, the Black community, and Muslims were the most frequently victimized groups, stated the report, released today (June 19).
In 2018, Jews were victimized in about 36 percent of total hate crimes, remaining the single most targeted group.
In addition to the 44 hate incidences directed at Jews last year in Toronto, the report also notes another five hate crimes targeting Israelis specifically, as well as eight “multi-bias” hate crimes that included anti-Jewish sentiment, the report stated.
The three most frequently reported criminal offences motivated by hate in 2019 were mischief to property, assault, and uttering threats, the report went on. The Jewish community was the most frequently victimized group for mischief to property and uttering threat occurrences, the study noted.
In York Region, Jews were targeted in 40 out of 133 total recorded incidents, amounting to 30 percent of all incidents, a 2.7 percent increase from the year before, an earlier report showed.
Other highlights of the Toronto report include:
• There were seven acts of mischief motivated by hate to religious property and educational institutions in 2019, compared to 10 in 2018. Once again, the Jewish community, followed by the Muslim and Catholic communities, was the predominant victim groups for mischief to religious and educational property last year in Toronto.
• Vandalism and graffiti were the two primary forms of mischief reported, and the most common offence locations were schools/universities, dwellings, parks and streets/laneways. Jews and the LGBTQ community were the predominant victim groups for mischief occurrences in 2019.
• There were 25 incidents of uttering threats motivated by hate in 2019, compared to 15 in 2018. Jews were again the predominant victim group for uttering threat occurrences in 2019.
• Of the 15 hate occurrences that were categorized as multi-bias (cutting across more than one religious or ethnic category) in 2019, the Black community was targeted in 11 and Jews in eight.
The latest numbers “are no surprise to members of the Jewish community in Toronto,” said Barbara Bank, chair of the Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs, Toronto in a statement.
“Year after year, Jewish Torontonians are the most frequently targeted group when it comes to hate crime. Whether the immediate targets of hate are individuals or community institutions, these crimes leave a lasting, harmful impact on victims and the broader community,” Bank said.
She noted that Ontario lawmakers are currently considering Bill 168: An Act to Combat Antisemitism, which, if passed, would empower Queen’s Park to address contemporary forms of antisemitism.
“We urge every [MPP] to support their bill and affirm their commitment to combating antisemitism,” Bank said.
In a statement, B’nai Brith Canada said the police numbers for last year are “consistent” with the organization’s 2019 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which found a 62.8 per cent increase in the number of incidents in Ontario compared to the previous year.
CEO Michael Mostyn called on all levels of government to adopt B’nai Brith’s “Eight-Point Plan to Tackle Antisemitism.”
Every year, the Jewish community remains the most targeted group when it comes to hate crimes, pointed out Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Campaign Against Antisemitism.
Kirzner-Roberts called on city leaders “to recognize the urgent need to fight antisemitism and hate in our city and take strong, decisive action to help ensure the safety and security of our community.”
The police report also noted that in February 2019, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto held a one-day conference, “Combating Hate Speech and Antisemitism” in Toronto. The conference was attended by community leaders, legal professionals, and police officers.
B’nai Brith also pointed out that nationally, Jews have been the country’s most targeted minority for the past three consecutive years, according to data from Statistics Canada.