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There were 935 reported incidents of anti-Semitism in Canada in 2006 - representing a 12.8 percent rise from the previous year, a four-fold increase over the past 10 years and an all-time high since counting began - according to figures released by the League for Human Rights of B'nai B'rith Canada.
"Canada is a good place," affirmed B'nai B'rith Canada's Executive Vice President Frank Dimant, "but the barometer of intolerance is rising, and police statistics show it's Jews and blacks who are the most targeted groups in this country. When 42 synagogues were vandalized this year, it's not even a news item anymore," he told The Jerusalem Post by phone from Toronto on Wednesday.
The figures, reported in the League's 2006 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, show a steady trajectory of rising violence and harassment toward Jews. From around 60 incidents reported annually in the early 1980s, the number of reports rose to 212 in 1997, 459 in 2002, and on to 935 in 2006.
"With the exception of a small hiatus in 2005, when a slight 3.3% decrease was reported, there has been a relentless upward movement over the past 10 years," the report reads.
Mitigating the severity of the audit is the fact that, of the 935 incidents reported, only 30 - that is, a mere 3% - involved violence. However, that figure also represented an increase over the previous year.
"My instinct is that Jews in Canada are starting to worry about their place here," attorney Marvin Kurz, national legal counsel for the League, told the Post, adding that Canadian Jews "are recognizing that this isn't a shrinking phenomenon but a growing one, and that it may not go away even if [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas and [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert sign a peace treaty tomorrow."
For this reason, he noted, "Jews are increasingly preoccupied with security. There are guards at synagogues now, and Jewish institutions are getting bullet-proof windows."
Not only did the number of incidents increase, the report found, but they began to be reported in new places, "such as fitness clubs, doctor's offices
and other relatively benign places."
Though Canada's Jews make up some 1% of the nearly 33 million Canadians, they remain at the top of police hate crime reports, often taking first place.
While police figures for 2006 are still being compiled for most of Canada's regions, those for the Peel Region, north of Toronto, show that in an area with 2,635 Jews and 53,470 Muslims in a general population surpassing 1.1 million, Jews were the targets of hate crimes in 29% of cases, followed closely by blacks with 27%. Muslims, despite popular perceptions of their victimization, were targeted just 8% of the time, the report found.
The increase in anti-Semitic incidents is partly due to growing anti-Israel sentiments among Canada's burgeoning Muslim population, Canadian Jewish leaders say.
As one example, Dimant cites an attempt during the Liberal Party leadership conference in December to convince voters to reject candidate and former Ontario premier Bob Rae because his wife, Arlene Perly Rae, was Jewish and holds a leadership position in the Canadian Jewish Congress.
The flyers accused the JNF, to which Rae once spoke, of "war crimes and ethnic cleansing" and said Rae supported "Israeli apartheid."
While Khaled Mouammar, president of the Canadian Arab Federation, denied distributing the flyer, The Canadian Press reported it had obtained a copy of an e-mail showing he was distributing it.
The incident was "an attempt to get people not to vote for Bob Rae because he's married to a Jew," Dimant told the Post. "That's a very frightening thing, and it's the tip of the iceberg," he insisted, warning that "that kind of politicking has now started in this country."