Anti-Semitism in Vancouver needs to be combated: councillor
A Vancouver synagogue is seen in this undated file photo.
CTV News Vancouver
Published Tuesday, July 23, 2019 2:18PM PDT
A rise in police-reported hate crimes against Vancouver's Jewish community has prompted a call from a city councillor for action.
On Tuesday's city council agenda, Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung brought forward a motion to address anti-Semitism in the city.
In her motion, she cites Statistics Canada, saying that the Jewish community is one of the most frequently targeted ethno-cultural groups in police-reported hate crimes.
She adds that last month, the Vancouver Police Department's hate crimes unit stated that Jewish community members are the most targeted group for hate crimes, before Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community, Asian and black communities.
"The rise in hate crimes and anti-Semitism is alarming and contradicts fundamental values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the BC Human Rights Code," her motions states.
Earlier this year, B'Nai Brith Canada conducted an annual audit that found a huge rise in anti-Semitic incidents.
In fact, the organization said B.C. experienced a 126.7-per-cent increase in anti-Semitic incidents from 2017.
Harassment was the chief concern in B.C. with 368 reported incidents, accounting for 98 per cent of anti-Semitic incidents in the province.
To address these concerns, Kirby-Yung says education, increased awareness-raising efforts, strong political condemnation and enforcement of relevant laws are crucial to combatting anti-Semitism. Specifically, she's calling on the city to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's non-legally binding working definition of anti-Semitism, particularly as it continues to develop its equity framework.
That definition says: "Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
Kirby-Yung then hopes this definition will be shared with the VPD, Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver Park Board and Vancouver School Board for their review and consideration.
"Every person in the city of Vancouver has the right to realize their potential without fear of discrimination, and to live in conditions of dignity, respect and peace," her motion says.