A pro-Palestinian rally in Montreal.

Antisemitism spikes in Canada: firebombing, attempted school shootings, pro-Nazi vandalism

The Canadian Jewish community, the fourth largest in the world, has experienced severe hate incidents since the outbreak of the war, from vandalism to shooting incidents, particularly in Montreal and Toronto, home to the country’s two largest Jewish communities.

Since Hamas’ 7/10 attack, Canada’s Jewish community — the third-largest outside of Israel after the United States and France — has experienced a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents. From pro-Nazi graffiti and escalating to attempted shootings, the safety of Canada's roughly 404,000 Jews has deteriorated, with authorities working to improve security measures in their communities.
Last weekend, a demonstration took place in Quebec attended by thousands of pro-Palestinian protestors calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. In Toronto's Forest Hill neighborhood, home to the largest Jewish community in Canada, pro-Nazi graffiti was sprayed on a branch of the Starbucks coffee chain. Michael Levitt, CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, published photos of the event on social media. "In case you're struggling to read the hate graffiti,” it says, “a cup of coffee, you mean a cup of blood" "stop killing babies” and “blood on your hands.” This is the daily reality for Jews in Canada," he wrote.
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הפגנה פרו פלסטינית ב קוויבק קנדה
הפגנה פרו פלסטינית ב קוויבק קנדה
A pro-Palestinian rally in Montreal.
(Credit: Alexis Aubin / AFP)
This is just one example of the incidents that have affected parts of Toronto's Jewish population and other cities. Last week, pro-Palestinian activists threw red paint at a branch of the Indigo bookstore chain in Toronto and hung posters with a picture of Jewish CEO Heather Reisman with the caption "Funding Genocide."
Earlier this month in Montreal, unknown individuals shot at a synagogue and two Jewish schools, and a synagogue was firebombed. These events prompted a strong reaction from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said "Molotov cocktails thrown at synagogues, horrific threats of violence targeting Jewish businesses, targeting Jewish daycares with hate — this needs to stop," Trudeau said. Montreal is home to the second-largest Jewish community in the country.
In Toronto, the community also reported the tearing down of mezuzahs, the spraying of blood-soaked Stars of David on Jewish homes and a school, as well as protest events held outside community centers. A senior Toronto police officer stated earlier this month that the daily average of hate crimes against Jews has jumped by 132% since the outbreak of the war. According to officials, while Islamophobic incidents have also increased, the number is minuscule compared to violence against Jews. The Muslim population in Canada makes up about 4.9% of the total population - one of the largest in the West - compared to Jews who make up about 1% of the population.
At Concordia University in Montreal, a class-action lawsuit is being filed against the institution and the student association, alleging that they have fostered a safe space for antisemitism over the years, causing emotional harm to Jewish students and faculty. The lawsuit seeks compensation in the amount of $15 million CAD for the plaintiffs, including students, staff, and Jewish faculty affiliated with the institution in the past three years.
"Concordia University has failed to properly investigate and respond to antisemitic incidents on its premises, which has allowed antisemitism to proliferate across its campuses," claimed the plaintiffs. They refer to incidents including a violent incident between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian students, which resulted in the arrest of a student and injuries to another student and security personnel. The lawsuit against Concordia is part of a wider phenomenon across Canadian and American universities which have been struggling to deal with the explosive reality on campuses since 7/10, including a similar lawsuit filed last week by students at New York University.
The escalation of violence against Canadian Jews since the Hamas attack is not limited to the largest cities. In Mississauga, Ontario's seventh-largest city in Canada, a Jewish doctor received death threats. In a smaller community in Ontario, a threatening letter was posted on a Jewish family's home.
"There is no doubt that we are witnessing a sharp rise in antisemitism in our city and in cities across Canada and the world since the Hamas attack," noted Noah Shack, Vice President, Countering Antisemitism and Hate at the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. "Whether it's our children being bullied at school because they are Jewish, or university students, or even people stopping for coffee on their way to work and being exposed to antisemitic vandalism and slander. It is a very disturbing reality," he added.