Let’s make 2021 the year we eliminate online hate in Canada

Of note, along with contesting Isreal’s non-vaccination of Palestinians, which is a legitimate criticism of the Israeli government, not “a demonstrably false accusation tantamount to a modern-day blood libel.” One can also question the further codification of the IHRA definition, given its sometimes being used more broadly than intended. The other specific recommendations, however, are reasonable:

2020 was challenging. In addition to the horror of disease, the pandemic brought other troubling developments, including a sharp rise in hatred disseminated online. Canadians are clearly immune neither to the pandemic nor to the growing hate it appears to be exacerbating.  

Online hate is not a new phenomenon. At my organization, CIJA, we have been working on the issue since 2013. But, like the coronavirus, online hate has exploited weaknesses in our society to the detriment of all. As our lives continue to migrate online, the very platforms that proved to be a lifeline in so many ways also served as a springboard for spreading vicious hatred.  

Asian Canadians have been wrongfully and absurdly accused of deliberately unleashing COVID-19. 

Indigenous people, subjected to hatred and mistreatment since generations before the invention of the internet, many living in conditions that should embarrass all Canadians, are experiencing vicious online attacks on their culture and identity.    

Muslims, women, and the LGBTQ2+ community are regularly targeted by haters online, where Islamophobia, misogyny and homophobia continue to flourish.   

Good old-fashioned racists seized the opportunity provided by a global discussion about anti-Black hatred to, paradoxically, spread anti-Black hatred.   

And, of course, Jews were accused of this conspiracy or that one, from creating COVID-19 to profiting from the pandemic to claiming that Israel has leveraged the pandemic to oppress Palestinians by denying them the vaccine – a demonstrably false accusation tantamount to a modern-day blood libel, and one that the Palestinians themselves have refuted.   

All deeply offensive, to be sure, but being offensive is the only causes for concern.  

If online hate were simply offensive, it would be easier to dismiss. However, CIJA and the many partners we have worked with over the years – including those who have recently joined us to form the Canadian Coalition to End Online Hate – have increasingly observed, online hate can, and too often does, turn into real-world violence.   

This. Must. Stop.   

The federal government should deliver on its commitments

Following the 2019 election, the Liberals committed to devising a national strategy to end online hate, an issue that was explicitly included in the Prime Minister’s mandate letters to the Ministers of Justice, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Heritage and Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. 

They have a very good blueprint to work from: the June 2019 report on online hate produced by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, then chaired by Montreal-area MP Anthony Housefather. The report followed the murders in Christchurch, Pittsburgh, and Poway, all cases of online hate morphing into real world violence. 

It is now time to take the next steps. We, and the groups we work with through the Canadian Coalition to End Online Hate, a broad-based alliance of close to 40 (and growing) organizations representing a diverse array of communities, are calling for the following concrete actions.  

We propose:   

  • Increasing resources for law enforcement, Crown attorneys, and judges to ensure they receive sufficient training on how to apply existing laws to deal with online hate 
  • Directing Statistics Canada to address the gap in data to help us determine the scope of the problem and monitor progress  
  • Ensuring we achieve balance between combating online hate and protecting freedom of expression, notably by formulating a definition of “hate” and “hatred” that is consistent with Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence 
  • Creating a civil remedy to address online hate and  
  • Establishing strong and clear regulations for online platforms and Internet service providersabout how they monitor and transparently address incidents of hate spread on their platforms.   

The Role of Social Media Giants  

Platforms and providers do not have the best record when it comes to tracking and eliminating online hate. They must do better. And they will only do so with government pressure.  Canadian law must be strengthened to put the onus on platforms and providers to ensure that hateful content does not get published in their spaces. 

A national strategy to address online hate must include both the development of clear, harmonized, and uniform regulations, which apply to all platforms and providers operating in Canada, and an independent regulator to enforce them. 

These regulations should include a mandatory directive that providers incorporate appropriate definitions of hate and hatred. In the case of the Jewish community, we are advocating for the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism to be included in their user codes of conduct, algorithms, moderator policies, and terms of service.  

We also strongly believe that providers must make it easier for users to flag hateful content and be transparent about how complaints are adjudicated.  

COVID-19 has significantly accelerated our migration online, which was already well underway. It is imperative that we collectively do what is necessary to ensure the online space is a safe and hate-free place for everyone. 

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/01/11/lets-make-2021the-yearweeliminateonline-hatein-canada.html

Douglas Todd: B.C. Muslims rattled by confrontational Victoria imam

Certainly hate speech, and interesting point about the impact of the Harper government’s repeal of provisions allowing citizens to launch civil actions against online hate speech:

A militant imam in Victoria who openly calls Jews, Christians, atheists and free-speech advocates “filthy” and “evil” is causing distress among Canadian Muslims, and there are calls for him to be prosecuted for hate speech.

“Younus Kathrada is not taken seriously in our community. Somebody making those claims is not part of Islam. But I guess there is a fringe element that follows him,” says Haroon Khan, a trustee at Vancouver’s Al-Jamia mosque, which belongs to the B.C. Muslim Association and often holds interfaith events.

Source: Douglas Todd: B.C. Muslims rattled by confrontational Victoria imam

New Zealand: Ethnic affairs ministry might have averted mosque shootings – group

Bit of a stretch IMO but certainly having a minister, even a junior one, helps raise issues:

The head of the country’s Federation of Multicultural Councils said having a Ministry of Ethnic Affairs in place before now might have helped avert last year’s mosque shootings.

A number of initiatives have been confirmed as part of the Royal Commission report into the mosque shootings, released on Tuesday.

One of them is that a Ministry for Ethnic Communities will be created.

NZ Federation of Multicultural Councils president Pancha Narayanan said they had wanted such a ministry for a long time but he was grateful it would now happen.

“I don’t know how to express the emotions with this. We have been asking for this since our inception in 1989 and I’m grateful this country has heard [us] but I’m sorry that we had to lose so many lives before.

“Maybe this is a way of redeeming ourselves and saying ‘thank you’ to those people who have lost their lives.”

Narayanan said having a Ministry of Ethnic Communities in place might have led to a different outcome.

“For one, we at least would have had a very strong advocate for … example, the Muslim community has been raising this issue – these concerns and their fears, and a ministry would have to have been responsible, they would have talked to various ministers and politicians directly.”

He said such a ministry would have also had a lot of insight into the SIS and other agencies, plus stronger policy-making recommendations, while “leaving the mahi on the ground to the communities”.

Narayanan said the Office of Ethnic Communities did a marvellous job but a ministry had “greater clout”.

The Office of Ethnic Communities was the government’s principal advisor on ethnic diversity in New Zealand. It provided information, advice and services to ethnic communities, and administered funds to support community development and social cohesion.

Narayanan said a ministry would have to built from the ground-up based on the values of the Treaty of Waitangi, and recognising tangata whenua as a first-nation people.

He hoped it would be set up quickly, but with the right foundations that looked upon New Zealand as a flourishing society because of its diversity.

He added that the culture of New Zealand was changing due to the hard work of communities, but he hoped to see this time around that New Zealand became a truly Treaty-based multi-cultural society.

“We don’t differentiate whether they’re from Europe or Asia – we just want the policies and the legislation to be inclusive.

“Let’s not lose sight of the potential this ministry has to reset things.”

The report made 44 recommendations which the government has agreed in principle to implement, including a new agency with responsibility for strategic issues around intelligence and security.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said while nothing could have stopped the attack, there were still failings at a high level. “And for that I apologise.”

Source: Ethnic affairs ministry might have averted mosque shootings – group

Hate crimes in US reach highest level in more than a decade

Of note (still less than the previous high in 2008) so not all attributable to Trump. Canadian police-reported hate crimes 2019 numbers not yet out:

Hate crimes in the U.S. rose to the highest level in more than a decade as federal officials also recorded the highest number of hate-motivated killings since the FBI began collecting that data in the early 1990s, according to an FBI report released Monday.

There were 51 hate crime murders in 2019, which includes 22 people who were killed in a shooting that targeted Mexicans at a Walmart in the border city of El Paso, Texas, the report said. The suspect in that August 2019 shooting, which left two dozen other people injured, was charged with both state and federal crimes in what authorities said was an attempt to scare Hispanics into leaving the United States.

There were 7,314 hate crimes last year, up from 7,120 the year before — and approaching the 7,783 of 2008. The FBI’s annual report defines hate crimes as those motivated by bias based on a person’s race, religion or sexual orientation, among other categories.

Some of the 2019 increases may be the result of better reporting by police departments, but law enforcement officials and advocacy groups don’t doubt that hate crimes are on the rise. The Justice Department has for years been specifically prioritizing hate crime prosecutions.

The data also shows there was a nearly 7% increase in religion-based hate crimes, with 953 reports of crimes targeting Jews and Jewish institutions last year, up from 835 the year before. The FBI said the number of hate crimes against African Americans dropped slightly to 1,930, from 1,943.

Anti-Hispanic hate crimes, however, rose to 527 in 2019, from 485 in 2018. And the total number of hate crimes based on a person’s sexual orientation stayed relatively stable, with one fewer crime reported last year, compared with the year before, though there were 20 more hate crimes against gay men reported.

As the data was made public on Monday, advocacy groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, called on Congress and law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to improve data collection and reporting of hate crimes. Critics have long warned that the data may be incomplete, in part because it is based on voluntary reporting by police agencies across the country.

Last year, only 2,172 law enforcement agencies out of about 15,000 participating agencies across the country reported hate crime data to the FBI, the bureau said. And while the number of agencies reporting hate crimes increased, the number of agencies participating in the program actually dropped from the year before. A large number of police agencies appeared not to submit any hate crime data, which has been a consistent struggle for Justice Department officials.

“The total severity of the impact and damage caused by hate crimes cannot be fully measured without complete participation in the FBI’s data collection process,” the Anti-Defamation League’s president, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement.

An Associated Press investigation in 2016 found that more than 2,700 city police and county sheriff’s departments across the country had not submitted a single hate crime report for the FBI’s annual crime tally during the previous six years.

Greenblatt also said America must “remove the barriers that too often prevent people in marginalized communities – the individuals most likely to suffer hate crimes – from reporting hate-based incidents,” a sentiment shared by other advocates.

“The FBI’s report is another reminder that we have much work to do to address hate in America,” said Margaret Huang, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Source: Hate crimes in US reach highest level in more than a decade

Data shows an increase in anti-Asian hate incidents in Canada since onset of pandemic

Although collected through online portals with anonymity, of concern and buttressed by official police stats:

More than 600 incidents of hate targeting Asians within Canada have been reported to Chinese Canadian groups since the pandemic began, and one in three of those attacks have been assaults, say the groups.

The data, collected through online portals that have allowed victims to report hate incidents anonymously, are consistent with reports from Canadian police forces that they are also investigating an increase in anti-Asian attacks.

The data, released last week, were compiled by the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, Project 1907, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival and the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice. All of the incidents were reported through two online platforms based in Toronto or Vancouver. The reports were received from seven provinces.

Justin Kong, executive director for the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, said the data again indicate Asian Canadians have been targeted through the pandemic and racism will continue to taint Canada until there are policies in place to tackle it.

“Those attacks stemmed from historical anti-Asian racism, but also because of the ways in which COVID-19 has been racialized,” he said, adding COVID-19 is seen as a Chinese disease, similar to SARS.

“We saw what happened during SARS, and I guess it became obvious that this was going to go the same way. … That’s why we started collecting the data on the racist attacks.”

Mr. Kong acknowledged they weren’t able to verify the reports, and the groups instead have been relying on “a trust system.”

The data, which have been collected since February, show that 83 per cent of the incidents were reported by East Asians, followed by 7 per cent by Southeast Asians. It says 44 per cent of the attacks were reported from B.C. – the highest in Canada – while 38 per cent of the occurrences were reported in Ontario and 7 per cent in Quebec.

Women reported 60 per cent of all incidents. In B.C., women were even more disproportionately affected, accounting for nearly 70 per cent of all reported incidents there.

The data found nearly 30 per cent of reported incidents are assault, including targeted coughing, physical attacks and violence, and that verbal harassment is the most common type of discrimination.

These groups’ findings echo those of the Vancouver Police Department, which has reported a dramatic rise in hate incidents against East Asians.

In July, Vancouver police said they have had 66 hate-motivated incidents against East Asian people reported to them so far in 2020, a huge spike from the seven during the same period last year. A VPD spokesperson said the most targeted community continues to be East Asian.

Toronto Police Service spokeswoman Connie Osborne said, in comparison to 2019, her force has seen an increase in the number of hate-motivated occurrences, including where race has been a factor.

She said many of the 2020 cases are active investigations and the motivation of the offence may change or more offences may be uncovered, so the force can’t provide specific numbers for the year so far. But she added such incidents often go unreported and the number of reports received by police are not an accurate reflection of what people have experienced.

Earlier this year, Korean Montrealer Kyungseo Min compiled testimonies from Asian Québécois of racist incidents since January. In the span of about a month and a half, Ms. Min collected more than 20.

She said some of her findings match those from the advocacy groups. For example, female Asians reported more harassment or violence than men, and the majority of the racism was verbal.

In Alberta, the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee has been running the StopHateAB.ca portal since 2017 to encourage people to report incidents and talk about what happened to them. The portal’s reports include four incidents reported this year of an East Asian Canadian being verbally assaulted in a public space in a tirade related to COVID-19.

Since it began collecting data, the portal has logged 74 incidents of hate in Edmonton, 69 in Calgary and 31 in Lethbridge. There are a handful of reports from other areas of the province. The data were last updated in July.

The groups are calling on the federal government to include an anti-racism strategy in its postpandemic recovery plan.

Mr. Kong said as the pandemic has posed more challenges to racialized communities, he hopes that the government could also come up with policies aimed at helping migrant workers and low-income immigrant workers.

The House of Commons’ standing committee on justice and human rights issued a report just more than a year ago with recommendations for battling online hate. They include recommendations for more funding for police, judges and Crown prosecutors to enable them to better respond to hate complaints as well as better data collection on hate incidents.

The report, submitted in June, 2019, noted a 50-per-cent jump in hate crimes targeting Black people in 2017 relative to the year earlier. However, the report does not refer to hate crimes against those of East Asian descent.

In a response this month, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Toronto-based foundation, provided several recommendations to the Justice Minister’s office, including placing online hate crimes under federal jurisdiction and developing a more clear and comprehensive definition of illegal hate activities.

Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, the foundation’s director of policy, said it is the responsibility of the justice system to recognize hatred as the poison that it is and confront hate crimes.

“We want to see all hate crimes aggressively investigated by police, regardless of what community is being targeted and what form these crimes take, so that perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-data-shows-an-increase-in-anti-asian-hate-incidents-in-canada-since/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Morning%20Update&utm_content=2020-9-14_6&utm_term=Morning%20Update:%20Isolation%20and%20loneliness%20take%20a%20toll%20on%20mental%20health%20during%20pandemic%20&utm_campaign=newsletter&cu_id=%2BTx9qGuxCF9REU6kNldjGJtpVUGIVB3Y

Graffiti on monument commemorating Nazi SS division being investigated as a hate crime by police

How is the original monument not considered a symbol reflecting hate, if not a hate crime in itself. That being said, a petition or activism to remove the monument is the appropriate response, not anonymous spray painting:

An incident involving graffiti spray painted on a monument to those who fought in Adolf Hitler’s SS is being investigated as a hate crime by an Ontario police force.

Someone painted “Nazi war monument” on a stone cenotaph commemorating those who served with the 14th SS Division. The monument is located in Oakville in the St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery.

In response to questions from this newspaper, Const. Steve Elms, spokesman for Halton-Regional Police, cited a section of the Criminal Code that noted those communicating statements in any public place inciting hatred against any identifiable group could face imprisonment not exceeding two years. “This incident occurred to a monument and the graffiti appeared to target an identifiable group,” he explained in an email to questions about how a hate crime could be perpetrated against members of the SS.The 14th SS Division, also known as the Galizien Division, was formed in 1943 when Nazi Germany needed to shore up its forces as allied troops, including those from the U.S., Canada, Britain and Russia, started to gain the upper hand and turn the tide of the war. In May 1944, SS leader Heinrich Himmler addressed the division with a speech that was greeted by cheers.  “Your homeland has become more beautiful since you have lost – on our initiative, I must say – the residents who were so often a dirty blemish on Galicia’s good name – namely the Jews,” Himmler said. “I know that if I ordered you to liquidate the Poles, I would be giving you permission to do what you are eager to do anyway.”

SS leader Heinrich Himmler greets members of the 14th SS Division during the Second World War. Police say graffiti left on an Oakville monument to the SS division is being investigated as a hate-motivated crime. (Photo courtesy US Holocaust Memorial Museum)
SS leader Heinrich Himmler greets members of the 14th SS Division during the Second World War. Police say graffiti left on an Oakville monument to the SS division is being investigated as a hate-motivated crime. (Photo courtesy US Holocaust Memorial Museum) /jpg

There are allegations members of the 14th SS Division took part in killing hundreds of Polish civilians in 1944 in the village of Huta Pieniacka. Some Ukrainians dispute that the SS division took part in the killings or they argue that only small elements from the unit – and under Nazi command – were involved. Others argue the SS members were heroes who fought against the Russians.

In 2017, a Polish judge issued an arrest warrant for then 98-year old Michael Karkoc, a 14th SS Division deputy company commander for war crimes. Karkoc, living in the U.S., died before he could be tried in court. He had been accused of coordinating the massacre of 44 civilians, including women and children, in the Polish village of Chłaniów in 1944.

Bernie Farber of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network said there is a need for Halton Regional Police to better educate themselves on what constitutes a hate-motivated crime. “Yes, it’s destruction of property for sure,” Farber said of the graffiti on the monument. “But a hate crime? Far from it.”

The monument to the 14th SS Division was also in the headlines in 2017 when the Russian Embassy in Ottawa posted images on its Twitter account pointing out the “Nazi monuments” in Canada.

Source: Graffiti on monument commemorating Nazi SS division being investigated as a hate crime by police

ICYMI: Germany sees rise in anti-Semitic, political crimes

Of note:

Germany saw a rise both far-right and far-left crimes in 2019, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday.

The country’s police recorded just over 41,000 cases of politically motivated crime last year, representing a rise of 14.2% compared to 2018, when there were just over 36,000.

More than half of all cases could be attributed to the far-right scene, the statistics show, with 22,342 cases, representing a 9.4% increase. The politically motivated crimes recorded ranged from verbal abuse, spreading racist propaganda, hate speech, to assault, arson, and murder. There has also been a 23% rise in far-left crime, focused particularly in the eastern city of Leipzig.

At the press conference, Seehofer was at pains to allay concerns that police or authorities were losing sight of far-right violence.

“The biggest threat comes from the far-right, we have to see that clearly,” Seehofer said,

Authorities also recorded 2,032 crimes motivated by anti-Semitism – a rise of 13% over 2018, and the highest since those statistics were collected. Some 93.4% of those crimes were carried out by far-right perpetrators. Seehofer said there was a similar figure – 90.1% – for Islamophobic crimes, which have also risen by 4% to 950 cases.

More propaganda, more murders

Next week marks the first anniversary of the murder of conservative politician Walter Lübcke, head of government in Kassel, central Germany. Far-right extremist Stephan E. initially confessed to the murder, though he withdrew the confession earlier this year and replaced it with a partial confession implicating an accomplice.

Far-right killings continued in February this year, when nine people of immigrant background were murdered by an extremist in two cafes in the central German city of Hanau.

The figures show that 36.8% of far-right crimes involve “propaganda offenses,” 13.7% involve “racist hate speech,” 4.9% property damage, and 4.4% violence against people.

Georg Maier, interior minister of Thuringia, who joined the press conference as the current chairman of the state interior ministers’ conference, was particularly forthright on the far-right threat.

“What we experienced in 2019 and 2020 represents a new dimension of threat against our democracy,” Maier said. “This danger is coming from the right. Three murders in 2019, and in 2020 already 10 murders with a racist and far-right extremist background. It had been a long time since we had the murder of a political representative in Germany, and that makes very clear how big the challenge for us is.”

Last week, Seehofer attended the first meeting of a newly established Cabinet committee, chaired by Chancellor Angela Merkel, to fight right-wing extremism and racism. “It was a very, very good and deep discussion,” Seehofer said. A cabinet report on new measures is planned for next spring.

The far-right and anti-lockdown protests

Maier, a Social Democrat who said his own campaign posters had been defaced with swastikas, said he had noticed an increase in “far-right structures,” both in the form of concerts, martial arts clubs, and online groups.

He said that organizers were using concerts to raise money for political campaigns and mentioned that far-right had even opened bars to create another revenue stream.

He went on connect such developments to a more polarized political atmosphere, and suggested that recent demonstrations against social distancing measures had been deliberately “undermined” by the far-right scene.

The data was released as police in Germany on Wednesday raided 25 premises linked to 31 suspected members of anti-government Reich Citizens Movement — a movement that overlaps with far-right extremist groups.

The group was suspected of making fake documents, including passports, driver’s licenses and birth certificates. The raids took place in the states of Hesse and Baden-Württemberg.

A faction of the group was officially banned by Seehofer in March for its anti-Semitic and right-wing sympathies.

Source: Germany sees rise in anti-Semitic, political crimes

Tung Chan: Recent increase in hate crimes toward Asian-Canadians is a shock and a shame

One of the better opinion pieces on anti-Asian-Canadian hate crimes:

Canada is a multicultural society. The majority of us are welcoming and accepting of new Canadians, no matter where they are from or what race they are. This positive attribute of Canadian society is universally appreciated by new arrivals and admired by people around the world. This is why the recent increase in hate crimes toward Asian-Canadians is a shock to all of us.

Some of my Chinese-Canadian friends are taking extra precautions when they are out in public, looking over their shoulders when they are walking alone on empty streets. Many Chinese-Canadian organizations are banding together to fight the rise in racism.

It is no wonder then that a national survey conducted for the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice found that as many as one in five respondents do not think it is safe to sit on the bus next to an Asian or Chinese person who isn’t wearing a face mask.

The same poll, conducted in the week of April 24 with a sample size of 1,130 adults randomly drawn from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, also found that nearly 13 per cent, or one in eight respondents, were aware of incidents of racial bias in their neighbourhoods since COVID-19.

One member of Parliament, Derek Sloan, took advantage of this latent hostility and questioned the loyalty of our chief medical officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, who, like me, is an immigrant from Hong Kong. To the political base where his dogwhistle was directed, a Chinese person is a Chinese person — chief medical officer or not, naturalized Canadian or not.

A television outlet went further with a story that painted a picture of the Chinese diaspora, including Canadian citizens, obeying orders from the People’s Republic of China and secretly buying up personal protection equipment and shipping it back to China.

The unfortunate perception left with viewers is that Chinese-Canadians cannot be trusted because they may be members of a fifth column, ready and willing to follow the People’s Republic of China’s orders against the interest of Canada.

The point is that the actions of a few should never be generalized to a group. Yes, there is an increase of assaults on Asian-Canadians, but the actions of those few should not generate fear of all.

Yes, some Asian-Canadians sent care packages to China to protect loved ones prior to COVID-19 reaching Canada. But it was also done in hopes of preventing the virus from spreading and reaching Canada.

Everyone is afraid of COVID-19, of losing family, of being without an income, of what tomorrow will bring. But we know the fabric of Canada is sewn with kindness and compassion.

Our civic leaders and elected politicians need to continue speaking up to condemn those who physically attack to cause bodily harm or those who verbally attack to create doubt about the loyalty of Chinese-Canadians. The perpetrators of these malicious acts must be made to understand that their actions and their words are not acceptable in our society.

For the sake of our country, let’s focus our energy on fighting the virus, not each other.

Source: Tung Chan: Recent increase in hate crimes toward Asian-Canadians is a shock and a shame

Germany: No let-up in anti-Jewish crimes

Official police-reported statistics:

Germany’s annual report on politically motivated crimes will detail more than 41,000 crimes last year attributed to far-right and far-left individuals, with anti-Semitic acts amounting to 2,000 offenses, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

Citing data to be published next week by the Federal Criminal Police Office, the paper said experts blamed the upward trend of politically motivated crime on an increasing belief by perpetrators that the behavior is socially acceptable..

The 41,000 cases overall represented a 14% increase on the level in 2018, with 22,000 crimes classed as extreme right and 10,000 crimes as extreme left — often so-called “propaganda” acts such as smearing graffiti, with some far more serious.

These categories had grown by 9 and 24% respectively, Welt am Sonntag reported.

Particularly alarming were politically motivated crimes in Germany’s eastern states of Thuringia and Brandenburg, where such cases had jumped by 40 and 52% respectively.

The data “unfortunately” shows a “massive problem” at both ends of the spectrum, said Thorsten Frei, deputy parliamentary leader of Chancellor Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

Politicians, journalists targeted

“Hate” tirades on the Internet were often aired “unrestrained” against communal politicians or journalists, said Frei, and some even included murder threats.

“Where ever the concept of “the enemy” [Feinbild] became entrenched in minds this sometimes quickly led to [threats] being acted out, said Frei while calling for the “swamp” of contemptuous language to be stamped out.

“People’s reticence to resort to violence has fallen,” Jörg Radek, deputy GdP police trade union leader told the paper. “People become violent more quickly because they are increasingly confident that their acts are socially accepted, said Radek.

“All violence from the right and left must be outlawed,” he said, “whether it’s directed at a camera crew, emergency workers, or the crew of a police patrol car.”

Hate-motivated sprees

In recent decades, Germany has witnessed a string of far-right racist crimes, including fatal shooting sprees in Halle in October and in Hanau in February.

Seehofer subsequently declared far-right extremism the “biggest security threat facing Germany,” promising a beefed-up security response.

Source: Germany: No let-up in anti-Jewish crimes

Tragedies deepen Jewish-Muslim bonds to fight hate crimes

Of note:

Muslim groups helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue recover after a gunman killed 11 people there, one year ago this week. The Jewish congregation mounted its own fundraiser for New Zealand’s Muslims after a white supremacist shooter killed 51 people at two mosques there in March.

Such outreach between Jews and Muslims often draws widespread attention only in the immediate wake of tragedy. But as both faiths grapple with a rise in reported hate crimes and fears within their communities of being attacked for their beliefs, Jews and Muslims are forging bonds that rely on shared personal values to help combat anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

For Sheryl Olitzky, 63, the “aha moment” that inspired her focus on Jewish-Muslim connections came almost a decade ago on a trip to Poland, when she asked a guide why she saw no locals in the head-covering garb of devout members of either faith.

Olitzky, who was married at Tree of Life synagogue, recalled being stunned by the exclusionary response she heard and telling herself that “I could not change history, but I could rewrite it by changing the future” and working to prevent further episodes of discrimination against Jews and Muslims.

When the grandmother of seven returned home to New Jersey, however, it took several months for her to realize that, despite living in an area with “a fairly substantial number of Muslims and Jews,” she had no Muslim friends.

“I said, ‘I believe ignorance is a primary driver of hate, and it’s time, if I want to make change that I get to know Muslim women’,” Olitzky said.

When Olitzky was introduced to Atiya Aftab, a Muslim attorney and adjunct professor at Rutgers University, their partnership took off as the nonprofit Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom. What began as a meeting of six Muslim and six Jewish women at Atfab’s home now counts more than 170 chapters in 32 states and Canada, according to Olitzky.

The Sisterhood devotes much of its attention to education and shared experiences that can deepen ties between its members, with its fourth annual trip this year taking dozens of Muslim and Jewish women and teenage girls to Germany and Poland. But a vow to fight hate crimes that target their respective communities is also woven into the group’s foundation, with a “rise and respond” primer for speaking out against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia released this year .

Other members of the two faiths have created formal alliances as well. The Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council was established by the American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society of North America in the first days after President Donald Trump’s 2016 election — following a campaign where Trump repeatedly stoked public fears of Muslims.

MJAC is co-chaired by two business executives, one Jewish and one Muslim. The group opened regional affiliates after a 2017 spike in reported hate crimes that included the death of Heather Heyer, killed while demonstrating against a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

AJC Director of U.S. Muslim-Jewish Relations Ari Gordon said that some themes common in episodes of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are “definitely linked.” The same man who allegedly attacked a synagogue in Poway, Calif., this spring was also linked to a fire set at a nearby California mosque, Gordon pointed out.

Hate crimes reported to the FBI have risen for three years running, according to official statistics, with Jews and Muslims ranking as the top two targets of religiously motivated incidents. But underreporting is seen as a significant obstacle to effective tracking of the problem. Heyer’s death, for example, was not included in the federal database although the man who drove his car into the crowd where she stood pleaded guilty to hate crimes charges.

MJAC has championed bipartisan legislation in Congress designed to improve the tracking of hate crimes — but its work has stayed in that domestic policy lane, steering clear of U.S. policy toward the Israel-Palestine conflict that has been a longtime divider of Jews and Muslims.

“We don’t put that issue on the side because it’s not important; quite the opposite,” Gordon said, adding that MJAC aims to demonstrate that the two faiths “can work together for mutual benefit and build trust despite this disagreement.”

Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of the Muslim advocacy group Emgage Action, and Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, took a similar approach when they co-authored a columnafter the New Zealand mosque attacks that described their faiths as battling the “common enemy” of white supremacist violence. The duo first got to know each other as colleagues on the staff of Samantha Power, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President Barack Obama.

“We can work together on issues that unite us, and that doesn’t mean we have to agree on every issue,” Soifer said. Alzayat, also a member of MJAC, agreed that the alignment to discuss their faiths’ struggles against hate crimes does not mean “you let go of your principles.”

If the two communities can successfully find that “common ground,” Alzayat said, “over time, the really difficult stuff becomes easier to talk about.”

The partnerships between Muslim and Jewish groups have extended beyond battling hate crimes. AJC held an event last week to show support for the majority-Muslim Syrian Kurds as they grapple with the fallout from Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from the country’s northeast and Turkey’s subsequent attacks on Kurdish-held territory.

But even when it comes to the unifying issue of preventing hate crimes against their respective faiths, not every Muslim-Jewish partnership agrees on how publicly to discuss Trump’s role in the problem. Alzayat and Soifer used their op-ed to label Trump “a symbol of rising Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of racial and religious intolerance,” and Olitzky also said she views Trump’s muddled rhetoric about white nationalists as having “given permission for them to come out” further into the open.

MJAC, for its part, takes a more positive approach toward an administration whose support it needs to get further hate crimes legislation passed into law under Trump. The president signed a bipartisan bill strengthening penalties for threats against religiously affiliated institutions into law last fall. Gordon praised the Justice Department’s work on anti-Semitism and said that the group would not pull back on “criticism where we think it’s due.”

Source: Tragedies deepen Jewish-Muslim bonds to fight hate crimes