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Anti-Semitism on rise in Manitoba, report says

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Last year saw a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Manitoba, an annual audit by B'nai Brith Canada says.

There were 75 cases of racism and bigotry against Jews in Manitoba reported in 2013, compared to 56 in 2012 -- a 34 per cent rise, the national report released Friday said.

Nationally, there was a slight decline with 1,274 incidents, down five per cent from the year before, but little comfort to Canadians who expected anti-Semitism would be gone by now.

"You can see, nationally, numbers are holding pretty steady," said David Matas, B'nai Brith's legal counsel. "The phenomenon we've been seeing is not going down and not disappearing," said the Winnipeg human rights lawyer. He's had a swastika drawn in the snow of his yard and regularly receives anti-Semitic screeds in the mail, he said.

In Manitoba in 2013, most of the anti-Semitic incidents were reported in Winnipeg, where the majority of Jews live. The B'nai Brith cited several examples.

Signs targeting Winnipeg's Jewish mayor and other prominent members of the community alluding to Holocaust imagery were posted in the downtown core.

Swastikas were spray-painted repeatedly in a neighbourhood over the course of a couple of weeks

"Money grabbing Jew" and "kike dirty" were scratched into a victim's car.

In another incident, a victim was told "I will kill you myself, I agree with what happen to the Jewish."

The League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada has monitored and reported on hate-motivated incidents directed at the Jewish community in Canada for 32 years. The annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents tracks attacks of harassment, vandalism or violence against individual Jews or the community's institutions.

It was released on the eve of the Jewish festival of Passover during which Jews around the world join together to recall their ongoing struggle for freedom.

Anti-Semitism was seen by many Jews as a thing of the past, but there's been a dramatic increases in Jew-hatred and intolerance in Europe, B'nai Brith says. That has awakened "a tremendous feeling of communal unease," B'nai Brith CEO Frank Dimant said in a news release. In Canada, "unending streams of anti-Israel resolutions by student governments creating a situation where the once weeklong Israeli Apartheid Week now spans the entire school year," he said.

Reports of anti-Semitism may be down slightly in Canada because Jews are worried about possible social repercussions and retaliation in the workforce, the B'nai Brith report said. Others may have just given up.

Although government officials have strongly condemned anti-Semitism, police and attorneys general have shown a reluctance to resolve complaints, the B'nai Brith says. It's easy to see why Canadian Jews might not bother to report all incidents, says Matas.

The case involving the Jewish student at Oak Park High School whose hair was set on fire in 2011 by a boy who uttered anti-Semitic slurs is one example, he said.

Senior Manitoba justice officials had considered laying a hate-crime charge but ultimately decided against it.

"If somebody assaults you out of obviously anti-Semitic motives and the Crown and the court aren't going to pay any attention to that, then what's the point of trying to deal with it?" asked Matas.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2014 A12

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