Jewish organization warns of effects siege of Gaza is having in Canada

UJPO calls out rise of antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism since October 7  

The United Jewish People’s Order (UJPO) is warning of a sharp increase in hate incidents in Canada since Israel’s genocidal siege of Gaza began.

“As the violence in Gaza, perpetrated by the State of Israel, continues, this horrendous siege is affecting our communities at home as well,” the organization said in a statement on January 22. “We have seen and continue to see a rise in antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism in Canada.”

In Toronto, for example, police announced at the end of December that hate crimes against Arab, Muslim and Palestinian people had more than doubled last year, from 14 reported incidents in 2022 to 37 in 2023, with 20 of those incidents happening since October 7. Reported incidents of antisemitism increased from 48 in 2022 to 98 in 2023, just over double.

UJPO has a 100-year history in Canada, and its membership and experience reflect the diversity of Jewish people in this country. Through all of that diversity, it maintains a focus on progressive politics in Canada and around the world.

“Among us, our families have experienced intense antisemitism, suffered the consequences of the Holocaust, and experienced displacement and dispossession. Through all this, we yearn for a better world. Generations of progressive Jews have struggled to find safe haven for all, away from oppression and genocide, and some hoped that this could emerge in the contested land of Israel/Palestine. It has not.

“Other prominent Jewish organizations, with substantive resources and influence, have insisted that challenging the government actions of the State of Israel is antisemitic. It is not. We insist that no amount of atrocities – historical or current – can or should ever be used to justify the oppression of another people. We perceive that this oppression is what the State of Israel and its international allies are doing today, at the cost of Palestinian lives. Not in our name.”

The UJPO statement specifically condemned recent antisemitic attacks targeting Jewish schools and synagogues including incidents in Toronto and Peel Region in Ontario, and Hampstead and Dollard-des-Ormeaux in Quebec. At the same time, the organization warns of the trend by right-wing governments and groups to weaponize antisemitism in order to suppress criticism of Israel.

“The rise of actual antisemitism only underscores the importance of resisting and opposing claims that falsely equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism. Such claims only work to trivialize real anti-Jewish racism. Although the Israeli government may claim to act in the name of all Jews, and even as some Jewish institutions here at home repeat this claim, we know that equating the actions of the State of Israel with Jews living in the diaspora is false. There are many varieties of Zionism, but none of them can be equated with Judaism, Jewish culture or Jewish identity as a whole.”

UJPO has a long history of solidarity with the Palestinian people and insists on challenging all forms of racism in the same way that it challenges antisemitism.

“As instances of antisemitism rise in Canada, we are also seeing instances of anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East recently released a study that outlines a rise in anti-Palestinian hate crimes in 2022 and 2023, which cites examples of people fired or suspended from their jobs for involvement in Palestine solidarity campaigns; assaults for wearing keffiyehs; and assaults for displaying Palestinian flags or participating in peaceful solidarity marches.

“We know that the widespread adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, which in its examples conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism, contributes to the rise in incidents of anti-Palestinian racism.

“Let us be clear. We resist antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia together. We will continue to demand that all people here and in Israel/Palestine should have equal access to life, freedom and fundamental human rights. None of us will be free until all of us are free.”

[Photo: UJPO Winnipeg]

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