League of Human Rights of the B’nai Brith Canada press releases



Toronto, February 25, 1999


millennium madness takes hold as hate on the internet becomes more vicious

For Immediate Release

(Toronto, February 25, 1999...) There were 240 reported incidents of antisemitic harassment and vandalism in Canada last year, according to the 1998 AUDIT OF ANTISEMITIC INCIDENTS, a 62 page report, released today by the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada. This represents a 14% increase from the 212 incidents reported across the country in 1997.

"After two consecutive years of declining incidents, antisemitism and hate appear to be on the rise again", said Dr. Lawrence Hart, National President of B'nai Brith Canada. "The League has been compiling statistics across the country for 17 years; but since the peak years in the mid-1990's when organized hate groups and their leaders were the prime perpetrators, the incidents of antisemitism in Canada have become more diffuse in nature and the faces of hate are becoming harder to identify", said Hart.

Harassment, including the distribution of hate propaganda, threats, and slurs, comprised the largest proportion of antisemitic incidents in 198 with a total of 198 reported cases. This is an increase of 29% from the 154 cases cited in 1997. The spread of virulent antisemitism and Holocaust denial via websites on the Internet, while monitored and of great concern, is not documented for statistical purposes. Only specifically targeted e-mail or named threats were included in the harassment category, and such incidents are clearly on the rise and becoming more vicious.

Hate on the Internet

"I have received some pretty disgusting hate mail over the last several years", said Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President of B'nai Brith Canada, "but I must admit it was particularly terrifying to be the target of a death threat on the Internet and to know that thousands of readers saw the call to put a bullet in my head and read the rallying cry to 'KILL ALL JEWS!'" he told an attentive gathering of over 50 people at the League's press conference in the B'nai Brith National Office this morning. Dimant was referring to a death threat posted last summer on the Readers' Forum of NOW Magazine. At first NOW's policy was to post all entries without editing. After the death threat against Dimant and the call for genocide of Jews, both criminal acts, NOW began to filter the postings on the Readers' Forum and to remove hateful messages that were in violation of the Criminal Code of Canada.

With the number of hate sites increasing at a significant rate, B'nai Brith has escalated its efforts to counter hate on the Internet. B'nai Brith's first International Symposium on Hate on the Internet was so successful, that a second one will be held March 20-23 in Toronto, bringing together legal experts, government officials, ISPs, police personnel, educators and community activists working in this important area to stem the tide of cyberhate.

Legal/Legislative Interventions

The 1998 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents provides an overview of the state of hate in Canada, and an update of the recent court cases and human rights tribunals in the struggle against antisemitism and hate, including the case of Zundel's website. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal met sporadically throughout 1998, and will continue well into 1999, with Marvin Kurz, National Counsel to the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada, intervening on the League's behalf in this precedent setting case. "We hope that the results of the Tribunal will stop this Canadian national embarrassment once and for all", said Kurz, referring to the fact that Zundel, through his Samisdat publishing and Zundelsite on the Internet is still considered one of the greatest purveyors of hate propaganda and Holocaust denial in the world.

Other significant cases in which the League intervened in 1998 included B'nai Brith member Harry Abrams' complaint against journalist Doug Collins for his continual antisemitic behaviour in the North Shore News in B.C. The Tribunal found that the cumulative effect of repetitive articles exposed Jews to hatred and contempt. In the Liebmann case, in which Senior Counsel David Matas intervened on the League's behalf, the Federal Court agreed that the Armed Forces discriminated against the naval officer because he was Jewish, but ruled that the discriminatory practice was allowable when determining postings in volatile situations where race or religion might be an issue jeopardizing a mission or putting members of the Armed Forces at risk. League interventions with BC Tel and the CRTC urged that ISPs and connectivity providers take responsibility for ensuring their clients comply with Canadian law and industry policies.

Messianic Churches Target Jews - Millennium Madness Increases

1998 saw a dramatic increase in the incidence of messianic Christians targeting Jewish people for conversion. Of particular concern is the fact that they prey on unsuspecting Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are seeking Jewish religious affiliation with very little knowledge base. "Missionizing groups, such as the Chosen People's Ministries and the City of David, fraudulently represent themselves as Jews" explained Dr. Harriet Morris, National Co-Chair of the League for Human Rights, "Their so-called synagogues are really elaborately disguised churches. As the millennium approaches, they are becoming more aggressive, increasing their deception by co-opting our symbols and language and actively targeting Jews for conversion." In the fall of 1998, the Chosen People's Ministries went so far as to file a trademark application for the menorah, claiming they have used it for 10 years, a Jewish symbol that B'nai Brith has used for more than 120 years in Canada.

Vandalism Declines in 1998

There were 42 reported incidents of antisemitic vandalism in 1998, down a significant 28% from the 58 incidents reported last year. This trend is consistent with police reports across the country and may be the result of crackdowns by the police Hate Crimes Units, major court cases against some of the leaders of the hate movement, the move to the concept of 'leaderless resistance' by hate groups, and the shift towards hate propaganda and the Internet, and away from more traditional forms of hate crime.

Geographic Distribution - Toronto highest, with greatest increase in smaller communities

Toronto - There were 123 reported incidents of antisemitism in Toronto, an increase of 26% over the 98 incidents reported in 1997. Toronto, the largest city in Canada with the largest Jewish population, accounted for 51.3% of the Canadian total for the year.

Regional Ontario - Hate mongers sought greener pastures in rural and suburban communities as the Hate Crimes Units in urban areas continue to become more effective. The areas outside Toronto saw 33 incidents, including a cemetery desecration - a rise of 65% from the 20 documented incidents in 1997 - the largest increase anywhere in Canada.

National Capital Region - There were 35 antisemitic incidents in Ottawa - ten up from last year and a 40% increase over 1997. Tensions on university campuses were of particular concern.

Montreal - With 20 reported incidents (one down from last year), Montreal stayed relatively close to its 1997 total, although specific antisemitic incidents were not available from the police this year the way they were in the past, suggesting a likely increase, especially since the hate crimes unit reported an overall increase in hate and bias crimes without breaking down the victim groups.

Winnipeg - There were 5 reported antisemitic incidents as compared with 18 the previous year, representing a 72% decrease. Aboriginal people are more frequently the targets of racism and hate in this area.

Saskatchewan and Alberta - The prairie provinces reported 5 incidents, a slight decline from the 7 in 1997.

British Columbia - There were 17 reported incidents in 1998, a decrease of 10.5% from the 19 in 1997.

The Maritimes - This region had one reported incident in 1998, down from 2 in 1997.



In addition to many examples of systemic antisemitism in schools and institutions, several incidents serve to illustrate how prevalent incidents of antisemitism are throughout the year:

January - A letter addressed to Frank Dimant stated that the Holocaust is a lie and threatened, "Maybe some day somebody will find you in an alleyway. Eh?"

February - In Nepean, a suburb of Ottawa, a high school was vandalized with graffiti reading "DIE JEW DIE."

March - A Jewish newspaper in Winnipeg received a phone call stating that "their time is up" and that there is a bomb in the building. No bomb was found.

April - Forty-three headstones were vandalized in a cemetery next to B'nai Israel Synagogue in St. Catherines, Southern Ontario

May - A Holocaust denial flyer announcing the meeting of the Muslim Brotherhood Study Group, was faxed directly to the police in Ottawa. There was no such group.

June - Following a Toronto television appearance in which she stated that her daughter was in the Israeli army, a woman received a pamphlet from a Christian proselytizing organization and an antisemitic hate letter.

July - A fight over a parking space in Toronto turned ugly when a man called a woman "You rotten Jewish bitch, you should have been exterminated."

August - The Last Call International, an antisemitic newsletter, was distributed around Jewish neighbourhoods in Toronto, to identifiably Jewish homes with mezuzahs on their doors.

Frank Dimant's life was threatened on the Internet when somebody posted that Mr. Dimant needed a bullet in the head and that all Jews should die.

September - A man in downtown Toronto displayed a placard at a major intersection exclaiming, "JEWS ARE KILLING CANADIAN CHILDREN."

October - There were three arson attacks on Jewish targets during the week of the Jewish high holidays.

November - A Jewish man in Kitchener, Ontario was terrified to receive a death threat with antisemitic diatribes on his answering machine.

December - A Jewish merchant in Whitby, Ontario found a swastika and other graffiti spray-painted on his store.

"The Audit of Antisemitic Incidents is an example of the importance of research and accurate documentation in understanding the nature and extent of racism and hate in Canada today," said Dr. Karen Mock, National Director of the League for Human Rights who oversees the compilation and analysis of the data. "The 1998 data reveal an increase in antisemitic incidents in provinces that have rescinded anti-discrimination and equity legislation, and a decrease in areas where anti-racism policies and practices are alive and well" added Mock. The 1998 Audit highlights the League's proactive initiatives in police and prosecutor training, research, human rights awareness, community action, intercultural dialogue and public education campaigns, in the ongoing struggle to counter antisemitism and hate crime in Canada.