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Cablegate: Rise in Anti-Semitic Incidents in Canada

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PP RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #0497/01 1012132
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 102132Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7666
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000497

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV CA
SUBJECT: RISE IN ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS IN CANADA


1. (U) Summary. On April 9, the League for Human Rights of
B'nai Brith Canada released its 2007 "Audit of Antisemitic
Incidents." According to the audit, 1,042 incidents of
anti-Semitism took place in Canada in 2007, the highest
figure since B'nai Brith released its first audit 26 years
ago, and an 11.4% increase from 2006. The audit cited a
significant increase in the number of incidents that occurred
outside of city centers, an increase in incidents on college
campuses, and a new phenomenon of individuals who have spoken
out against anti-Semitism becoming targets of retaliatory
attacks. Notably, the report linked a November spike in
anti-Semitic incidents, representing 13.7% of the total, to
the "reasonable accommodation" hearings in Quebec, perhaps
not reflecting a disturbing new trend. End summary.

TROUBLING TREND
---------------

2. (U) According to B'nai Brith's 2007 "Audit of Antisemitic
Incidents," in 2007 Canada experienced 1,042 incidents of
anti-Semitism, representing the highest number of incidents
since B'nai Brith released its first report 26 years ago.
This number also represents an 11.4% increase from 2006, and
a more than four-fold increase over the past decade.
According to the audit, these figures contrast with reports
from countries such as the UK and U.S., which experienced 8%
and 13% declines in anti-Semitic incidents, respectively.
The audit also stated that, with the Jewish community
representing barely 1% of the total Canadian population,
B'nai Brith's audit demonstrated a disproportionate targeting
of hate crimes at the Jewish community compared to other
ethnic and religious groups in Canada.

3. (U) The audit detailed how anti-Semitic incidents took
place across Canada, but the majority occurred in Ontario and
Quebec provinces, home to the largest Jewish communities.
Ontario, Canada's most populous province with its largest
city (Toronto), had the highest number of incidents (585),
representing 56% of the total incidents for 2007. While
previous audits had reported that city centers experienced
the highest increases in anti-Semitic incidents, areas
outside of city centers experienced the highest increases in
2007. Regional Ontario -- outside Toronto and Ottawa -- saw
an almost doubling of incidents, from 52 in 2006 to 95 in
2007. There was also a significant increase of incidents in
Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba
provinces, with only Alberta seeing a substantial decline
(38%).

TYPES OF INCIDENTS
------------------

4. (U) Cases of harassment were the most common type of
anti-Semitic incidents, representing 67% of the total number
for 2007. The report noted a dramatic increase in the number
of anti-Semitic incidents on university campuses, with the
number more than doubling, from 36 cases in 2006 to 78 in
2007. In February 2007, a poster supporting a Jewish
candidate for student government was defaced with
anti-Semitic graffiti at an Ottawa university. The audit
also pointed to annual "Israel Apartheid Week" events at
campuses as causing Jewish students to feel intimidated. In
addition, the audit cited what it called a new phenomenon of
individuals who had spoken out against anti-Semitism becoming
targets of retaliatory attacks. B'nai Brith expressed
concern that this will have an intimidating effect, leading
to an under-estimation of the extent of the problem.

REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION LINKED TO INCREASE IN INCIDENTS
--------------------------------------------- -----------

5. (U) The audit noted that two spikes in incidents occurred
in Canada in 2007. The first spike occurred in January, with
Qin Canada in 2007. The first spike occurred in January, with
121 incidents (11.6% of the total) taking place. B'nai Brith
linked this increase to Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's genocidal statements against Israel at the end
of 2006, as well as the controversy surrounding a Canadian
professor's attendance at Iran's Holocaust Denial Conference.


6. (U) The audit attributed the larger spike in anti-Semitic
events, however, to a domestic event -- the Quebec
Bouchard-Taylor Commission hearings on "reasonable
accommodation" of minorities. In November, at exactly the
height of the hearings, 143 incidents (13.7 percent of the
total) took place, more than in any other month. The
majority -- 99 out of 143 -- occurred in Quebec, where the
hearings took place. B'nai Brith commented that the public
format of the hearings -- which involved individuals, groups,
and experts discussing Quebec's treatment of minorities --
"gave bigots a virtually unrestricted public platform" to
disseminate prejudices against many different minorities,
including Jews. According to B'nai Brith, the sharp increase

OTTAWA 00000497 002 OF 002


in anti-Semitic incidents in Quebec demonstrates that the
Bouchard-Taylor Commission hearings were a "botched attempt"
at inclusive public debate and illustrated that "latent
prejudice will flourish openly when given the opportunity."


CANADA'S RESPONSE
-----------------

7. (U) According to the audit, police received reports of
just over one-third of cases reported to B'nai Brith. Police
laid eighteen charges in connection with incidents reported
to police, representing a slight increase from the 15 charges
police laid in 2006. The audit stated that police units
across Canada "continue to grapple with limited budgets" as
they reach out to various communities in their jurisdictions.
It also noted that the B'nai Brith League for Human Rights
has once again called for Montreal to establish a dedicated
hate crime unit. The audit noted that the government has put
in place some initiatives to fight racism, including an
Ontario government provision of funding to bolster services
to hate crime victims, as well as a program to provide
federal government grants to vulnerable community
institutions at risk of hate crimes.

COMMENT
-------

8. (U) While Canadians have traditionally prided themselves
on their acceptance of minorities, even Canada is not immune
to racism and discrimination. With one in every five
Canadians now self-identifying as a "visible minority,"
Canada increasing may feel the effects of its growing
diversity. However, with 13.7% of all anti-Semitic incidents
taking place in November and the great majority of those
occurring in Quebec, B'nai Brith's report of a rise in
anti-Semitic incidents appears to stem from a specific event
-- Quebec's reasonable accommodation hearings -- rather than
representing a broader trend.

Visit Canada,s Economy and Environment Forum at
http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/can ada

WILKINS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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