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

Do Germans Know a Hate Crime When They See It?

Ongoing and disturbing:

Slowly, many would say too slowly, Germany is waking up to the threat of far right terrorism. How could it not after a gunman attacked a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar? Unable to enter, he killed a woman on the street and a man in a kebab shop.

The shooter’s “manifesto” was a typical anti-Semitic screed, but his mother’s words, in their way, were more chilling. She told the German magazine Der Spiegel that her son “didn’t have anything against Jews in that sense. He had something against the people who stand behind financial power.”

Unfortunately, such parsing of definitions is not unique to the moms of murderers. Violent hate crimes that stop short of fatalities occur on an almost daily basis in this country, but are rarely reported or prosecuted.

In the past week alone, three right-wing extremists walked through the streets of Doebeln wearing orange jackets that said “Safe Zone,” chanting far right slogans and claiming to hunt “foreigners.” Right-wing extremist strategy is to make out that a “foreign threat,” that is, immigrants, has made streets unsafe, and that the German state has lost control of order, so it’s up to quasi-nazis to defend the streets and their country. Thus the “safe zone” reference.

In Mannheim, a 62-year-old man was arrested after shouting racist abuse at people on the train. (He was first told to leave because he didn’t have a ticket.) In Halle, someone uploaded a video of a man on the bus slurring abuse and talking about “gassing” people.

A few hours after the terror attack in Halle, police in the western city of Bonn reported that shots were fired through the window of an immigrant asylum home. The suspects drove off.

For the far right, such attacks small and large serve to instill fear in the targeted group, to drive a wedge between that group and the rest of society and thus fuel the extremists’ prophesied “war of cultures,” as Matthias Quent writes in his book Deutschland Rechts Aussen, or “The German Far Right.” And by failing to provide victims of hate crimes with justice, or declining to acknowledge that they are what they are, Germany’s democratic institutions perpetuate these aims.

In the aftermath of Halle, some measures have been announced. At a press conference, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said security measures at synagogues across the country would be improved.

But the government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, thinks that’s not enough. Speaking on ZDF television the day after the attack, he demanded that judges be allowed to recognize and give tougher sentences to anti-Semitic hate crimes. Right now the relevant law speaks of “contemptuous” motives.

“The attack began with a man wearing a shirt emblazoned with the image of Horst Wessel, a Nazi shot in 1930 and portrayed as a martyr by Josef Goebbels. ”

“I have not had one case where anti-Semitism was clearly named as the motive for a crime,” says Christina Büttner from “ezra,” an organization in Thuringia, where victims of violent hate crimes can get counselling and legal advice.

Thuringia is an eastern German state and home to the far-right AfD, Alternative für Deutschland, hardliner Bjoern Hoecke, who has called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin a “monument of shame” and said that schools should highlight German suffering in World War Two

In 2014, a group of right-wing extremists beat up six people at an art exhibition in Erfurt, a city in Thuringia. The attack began with a man wearing a shirt emblazoned with the image of Horst Wessel, a Nazi shot in 1930 and portrayed as a martyr by Josef Goebbels. That man started making anti-Semitic slurs to visitors before he was joined by seven other men who shouted “Sieg Heil.” At their court hearing, the consensus appeared to be that the offenders were “drunk and looking for a fight,” says Büttner. The anti-Semitic slurs were “brushed aside.” The fact that one of them had the face of an SS officer tattooed on his calf was only added to the case file after he appeared at proceedings in short pants.

“There are education gaps about anti-Semitism among officials, state prosecutors and judges,” says Büttner. “One cannot assume that highly educated people in Germany know what anti-Semitism is.”

According to official figures, such as they are, anti-Semitic and racist hate crimes—including online hate speech and the use of Nazi symbols—increased almost 20 percent in Germany last year. In most cases, the offender was judged to have a far right background. Büttner says her organization has dealt with one case where the offender had a Muslim background, but when it comes to violent anti-Semitic attacks, right-wing extremists “are in the majority.”

When confronted with the case of a person who may have been a victim of a violent hate crime, the police in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, where Halle is located, have been told to refer victims to independent advisory services like ezra. The legal advice of these NGOs can be useful, for example, if police refuse to provide a translator to a victim who doesn’t speak German.

“In Halle, this works very well,” says a counselor for the organization Mobile Operberatung. “But in other parts of the state, it may be that the police don’t recognize the cases or that they don’t know what they are supposed to do.”

Independent advisory services for hate crimes—mostly present in eastern Germany—record a much higher number of violent attacks than the authorities. Last year, they estimated that an average number of five people a day were attacked.

“Last year, they estimated that an average number of five people a day were attacked.”

Even more hate crimes go completely unrecorded. “Our statistics are the tip of the iceberg,” Büttner says.

In Germany, the individual police officer asked to register an assault decides whether it is a hate crime or not. Judith Porath, who counsels victims of violent hate crimes in the eastern state of Brandenburg, says that the people who come to her center often decide not to go to the police. Some worry about revenge. Others distrust the authorities. “People feel that they are not being believed, that they are being treated as the offenders,” she says.

Sometimes, a person who is targeted repeatedly by hate crimes will think there is no point in going to the police if they are still waiting for the legal proceedings against a different assailant from three years ago. One reason that proceedings are so slow is that there is a significant shortage of judges and state prosecutors in Germany.

In cases of far right violence, according to Porath, a common strategy that her organization has encountered is for gangs to first ambush a person who is alone, then accuse that person of assault. The culprits can back each other up in court. If the victim has no witnesses, the case either is dropped or the victim ends up being charged.

The fact that there are more hate crimes could be interpreted by the organized extremist movement as a sign the population is “leaning toward their ideology” and shares their definition of “enemies,” Daniel Koehler, director of the Institute on Radicalization and De-Radicalization Studies, tells The Daily Beast.

There are some signs that the German law enforcement’s sensitivity may be improving. In the ZDF interview, Felix Klein said that one reason the number of officially recorded anti-Semitic hate crimes last year increased was because more people are now going to the police.

In Halle, the number of violent attacks recorded by the Mobile Operberatung actually decreased in the past year. But in the neighboring state of Saxony, NGOs recorded a 38 percent increase in violent attacks—not least because of a series of assaults fuelled by the racist riots in Chemnitz last August.

In the wake of those riots, four restaurants were attacked, including the Jewish restaurant Shalom and the Persian restaurant Safran. These properties were destroyed, swastikas were painted on the glass and one owner was in the hospital for eight days. The state police took over the cases, citing the likelihood of a xenophobic motive. No suspects were found.

“To some extent, the affected did not feel like they were being taken seriously,” says Anna Pöhl, a counselor for victims of hate crimes in Chemnitz. This was in part because of the manner in which police investigated the attacks, for example by checking for ties to organized crime or asking whether the offenders had perhaps been shouting something in Arabic or Russian–this after being told that they’d given a Hitler salute and shouted “Sieg Heil.”

This September, the far right Alternative für Deutschland party became the second strongest party in Saxony and Brandenburg. Now, Judith Porath says “The AfD tries to discredit us, they are constantly making inquiries about us.”  Other political parties have defended the NGO, she said, so far.

Source: Do Germans Know a Hate Crime When They See It?

Syrian family closes restaurant, confirms son was target of death threats after political protest

So unfortunate and a reminder that Canada is hardly immune from this kind of behaviour and social media stirred up hate:

Eleven days ago, Alaa Alsoufi attended a political protest in Hamilton wearing a face mask. Less than 24 hours later, a Twitter user in Ottawa identified the young man as a Syrian “terrorist” who reportedly harassed an elderly woman as she approached Mohawk College to hear the People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier speak at a fundraiser.

Social media users across North America and Europe ran with the narrative, launching death threats against the Toronto man, his parents and their business.

And so a downtown Toronto restaurant founded by Alsoufi’s family, which had been widely lauded as a success story of Canada’s refugee resettlement program, abruptly closed on Tuesday in the wake of escalating online attacks.

“We could not put our family members, staff and patrons in danger,” the Alsoufis said in a public statement on Tuesday night that defended their son as a humanitarian and the victim of a vicious, politically motivated smear campaign by alt-right crusaders.

The family of Dorothy Marston, 81, the woman at the centre of the viral video, came to the Alsoufis’ defence and condemned the vigilantism by “social justice warriors on both sides.” The video shows Marston using her walker on Sept. 29 when she is confronted by a wall of masked protesters blocking her way, some calling her “Nazi scum.”

David Turkoski, Marston’s son, said he was heartbroken and disgusted by the attacks on the Alsoufi family.

“I’m absolutely ashamed of anybody who called and threatened them. That’s how polarized Canada is becoming. We have lost our ability to see reason,” Turkoski said on behalf of his mother. “We don’t like war and persecution of anybody.”

The Alsoufis, who opened Soufi’s on Queen Street West in 2017, said Alaa “did not in any way verbally or physically assault the elderly woman” and “offered to apologize personally for not doing more” to stop other protesters from harassing Marston.

They said Alaa was physically assaulted on Friday, several days after the event, and doxed, an Internet-based practice in which social media users unite to expose a person’s private records and launch threats.

While the family expressed “deep gratitude” toward the “loving, welcoming people” of Toronto, they said “the magnitude of hate we are facing is overwhelming.”

In addition to physical violence, a torrent of death threats prompted their decision to close the popular restaurant.

Messages on Facebook and Twitter illustrated the attacks on the Alsoufis over the course of a week.

On Oct. 1, a Facebook user in Philadelphia, who describes himself as a former U.S. Navy Submarine Service employee, posted photos of Alaa to his personal page with a message inviting his friends to “Meet Alaa Soufi Dalua (sic), one of the antifa scumbags that harassed an elderly couple while they tried to cross a street. … We have everything on him. Everything!”

A user in New York commented on the post, writing: “Pay his parents a visit, make an example of them!”

From British Columbia: “Your (sic) going back in a box or not your going back.”

From Belgrade, Serbia: “Hey little muslim b—-h. You know you’re gonna get f—–d right.”

In an email to the Alsoufis’ restaurant, an anonymous sender writes: “Keep it up and your family, and those who defend your family’s terrorist actions will suffer immensely.”

Hamilton police told the Toronto Star its investigation of the Sept. 29 protest “remains ongoing” and stated in an email: “There is no information to support that the conduct of the protesters was in violation of Section 318 (1) of the Criminal Code of Canada — Hate Propaganda.”

Toronto police would not confirm whether they were investigating or if the Alsoufis had notified them of the death threats.

Videos posted online show Alaa attending a variety of rallies in support of LGBTQ rights and protesting racism against migrants.

He was described in his family’s statement as “standing up for the rights of oppressed communities in Canada and worldwide.”

Husam and Shahnaz Alsoufi came to Canada after they and their three children were sponsored by a community group in 2015. The family opened the restaurant two years later, touting its Middle Eastern food as a culinary offering “from Syria with love.”

Soufi’s was among the restaurants profiled in a New York Times story last year showcasing the budding Syrian culinary scene in Greater Toronto. It has also been featured in Toronto Life, Now Magazine and the Star.

On Tuesday, staff at Soufi’s blocked the restaurant’s storefront window with printouts of the closing notice and the company’s signature yellow T-shirt while they were cleaning and clearing the premises as reporters gathered outside trying unsuccessfully to talk to the owners.

Members of the Queen West business community said they were shocked by the abrupt closing of the restaurant.

“Soufi’s has become a local staple. As a young business, it’s been growing and has a consistent following. It’s a success story,” said Zane Aburaneh, who runs a fashion and accessory boutique across the street and has hired the restaurant for catering. “It’s so unfortunate that someone has to close down their business because of threats.”

Julie Skirving, who operates Logan & Finley, a nearby eco-conscious general store, said she was a regular of the restaurant.

“They (the Alsoufis) are lovely people and must be devastated,” said Skirving. “It’s such a loss to the community.”

“This is horrifying and appalling. This is not Canada. There are rules of law. There are procedures to deal with situations like this,” added Jon Spencer, a patron of the restaurant, after leaving a heart-shaped note of support for the family that said “I’m so sorry to hear the awful news.”

Source: Syrian family closes restaurant, confirms son was target of death threats after political protest

How much hate crime does Canada have? Without a standard definition, no one knows for sure

I don’t fully understand the Alberta Human Rights Commission’s point given that the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system used to identify and report on hate crimes and is used by police forces and Statistics Canada for annual reporting.

There may well be consistency issues between officers and police forces, or inadequate guidelines, but complete absence?

Police departments across Canada have different ideas of what constitutes a hate crime, a new CBC investigation shows.

As a result, experts say it’s impossible to have accurate numbers that show which communities are struggling.

Police departments use different definitions of hate crime, which means how crimes are identified as hate-motivated differs from region to region and even among police officers investigating complaints. Some municipalities have comprehensive definitions that include gender identity and expression, while others have no formal definition at all.

The lack of a countrywide definition means Canadians don’t have an accurate reflection of how prevalent hate crime really is, says Stephen Camp, president of the Alberta Human Rights Commission’s hate crimes committee.

That means the federal government, he says, has no idea where to put resources to stop it.

Statistics Canada numbers show there were 1,798 hate crimes in Canada last year, Camp said, but there were likely more than that.

“What needs to occur for a number of reasons, not just for statistical gathering, is to have a national definition of hate crime incorporated into the Criminal Code,” he told CBC News.

Without a standard definition, he said, the current statistics are “not an accurate number of what’s going on in Canada.”

Consideration in sentencing

The Criminal Code of Canada has sections around hate propaganda, specifically advocating for genocide. It has sections for the public incitement of hatred and mischief relating to religious property. But it only considers “hate crime” as part of how someone is sentenced, not in the initial charge itself.

The current statistics, Camp said, show “the leaders in our society that the problem is not as bad as it sometimes is purported to be,” he said. “Then that equals insufficient resourcing and insufficient policies and legislation.”

Some services, like the Ottawa Police Service, define a hate crime as one motivated by “hate/bias or prejudice based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.”

Quebec provincial police, meanwhile, don’t have a formal definition at all.

Of the 19 police services that provided their definitions to CBC News, eight of them mention gender identity. Only a handful mention discrimination based on someone’s “real or perceived” race or religion.

Both of those are important, says Irfan Chaudhry, a hate crimes researcher at MacEwan University in Edmonton.

The absence of gender expression, he said, means the definitions police services are using haven’t caught up to Canada’s Human Rights Act.

As for “real or perceived” race or religion, there may be cases where a culprit targets someone based on a misconception, Chaundhry said. A Sikh, for example, might be targeted by someone who mistakes the person as Muslim.

Different instructions

Without a standard definition, police services even give different instructions to their frontline officers about how to identify and investigate hate crimes, Camp said.

If this is a priority for Canada, he said, then it should be reflected with a uniform Criminal Code definition officers would use when laying a charge.

“The Criminal Code is a reflection of our ethics, morals and values in society, and Canada continues to purport to be a society that is pluralistic and inclusive, and safe,” he said. “So why is there not a hate crime section in the Criminal Code to reflect that?”

CBC News reached out to the major political parties to see who would be committed to establishing a uniform hate crime definition after the Oct. 21 federal election.

The Liberal Party said it would “improve the quality and amount of data collection Statistics Canada does regarding hate crimes in Canada.”

A Liberal government would also “create effective and evidence-based policies to counteract these crimes,” the party said in an emailed statement.

The Conservatives said in an email that the party believes “in making criminal justice policy based on evidence.”

“If the information being made available is not accurate,” the party said, then “a Conservative government will certainly look into addressing the issue.”

Looking for an accurate picture

The NDP says there are still some major Canadian cities without hate crime units and that if the party is elected on Oct. 21, it would provide money and resources to make sure every city has one.

“We will also work with provinces, experts and law enforcement to determine a clear and consistent definition of hate crimes so the data we collect and use is more accurate,” a party spokesperson said in an email.

The People’s Party of Canada says it would “look into if there is a need to make data collection uniform and better allocate resources.”

The Green Party said it would “ensure all police forces understand Canada’s hate laws.”

Camp said governments and police agencies owe it to the public to have an accurate picture of the location and prevalence of hate crimes.

“Without that,” he said, “we’re not doing our job as public servants.”

Source: How much hate crime does Canada have? Without a standard definition, no one knows for sure

Police reported hate crimes definition (StatsCan): Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2017 – Statistics Canadahttps://www150.statcan.gc.ca › pub › article › 00008-eng

Statistics of anti-Semitism in US are misleading

Good serious comparison of the various datasets available. The observations regarding the limitations of ADL statistics also apply to B’nai Brith as to those on FBI data also apply to StatsCan complication of police reported hate crimes.

With respect to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the closest Canadian equivalent is the currently underway General Social Survey – Canadians’ Safety (GSS) which includes self-reported victimization, to be released winter 2020-21:

On Sunday, a Jewish man standing outside a synagogue was shot in the leg in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime. It was only the latest in a string of anti-Semitic attacks this year.

These attacks have brought in their wake headlines declaring “a spike in hate crimes” and “increased anti-Semitic attacks all across this country,” based on episodes like Sunday’s as well as data. Earlier this year, the FBI reported the largest increase in hate crimes since 2001, and the Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-semitic incidents rose by 57% in 2017.

As a result, a consensus has developed around the idea that hate crime and anti-Semitism are rising, and that Jews are no longer safe in the U.S. Leaders across the political divide agree.

But I’ve found myself skeptical of these claims of rising hate. Partly, this is because of a rather personal reason: Since moving to the US over a decade ago, I have never personally experienced hate or a hate crime.

But I was skeptical for a professional reason too. As a mathematician by training, I spent my PhD years working with messy crime data. And the truth is, it cannot be trusted at face value.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the data on hate crimes, especially those pertaining to the Jewish community, might have similar problems.

And it does. Big time.

To dig deeper, I looked at all the available data on hate crimes, which included incidents of hate by year, surveys, and reports. I sought out datasets, what are in their ideal form collected methodically year after year by faceless government statisticians. I also downloaded spreadsheets and mined the numbers myself.

What I found will probably surprise you: We have a real anti-Semitism problem in this country. But it’s not getting worse.

It’s important to keep in mind that hate crimes are not a leading cause of injury or death; in the same year 37,000 people were killed on the roads, and 2.3 million injured or disabled.

But you can’t compare hate crimes to road accidents; with a hate crime, like with terrorism, the victim is targeted because of their group identity, and the entire group feels threatened. Hate crimes select symbolic targets, such as community buildings, whose significance far exceeds their property value.

And research indicates that being in a targeted group is not just discomforting but can have a tangible effect how people behave. We know from Europe that attacks on Jews can trigger a wave of immigration to Israel, and it should not be assumed that the same cannot happen to American Jews.

Even more disturbingly, research on fertility data from 170 countries found that during waves of terrorism there is a decline in births.

All of this made me even more anxious to find out if there was actually a wave of anti-Semitism sweeping through America. So I sought out the two most frequently-cited sources of hate crime data: reports from the ADL and the FBI.

Let’s start with baselines. According to the FBI’s most recent data, 2017 saw 7,175 hate crimes nationwide, including 15 hate murders. Anti-Jewish hate crime incidents represented 13% of all incidents – 923 – coming in second only to Anti-Black hate crimes, which numbered 2,013 incidents.

There were also more anti-Semitic incidents than “anti-gay” crimes, for example. Most importantly for our purposes, because Jews make up just 1-2%of the US population, these numbers mean that the Jewish community is targeted by hate crimes disproportionately to its numbers by a factor of ten.

The ADL has been tabulating data on anti-Semitic hate crime for an impressive 40 years, and it receives data both from the police and the public. The ADL has built out a modern data center and has interactive online visualizations.

In its most recent audit, the ADL reported that 2018 had the third-highest number of incidents of the past four decades, with 1,879 incidents. The 2018 total is 48% higher than the number of incidents in 2016, and 99% higher than in 2015. Both 2017 and 2018 had far more incidents than typical for the previous eight years. This is, indeed, alarming.

However, these numbers should be taken with a mild dose of the proverbial salt. The problem with hate data is that only 20% of hate crimes are reported to the police, and, one suspects, even fewer to the ADL. So the statistics give just the tip of an iceberg; the majority of hate times are not included in this count.

This makes them somewhat unreliable. To rely on 20% of the data to determine if there is a wave of anti-Semitic hate crimes would be like looking at the top shelf of your fridge, and finding it overflowing, deciding that you need to buy a larger fridge (I would suggest looking at the other four shelves first).

And you can’t just compare the 20% of reported crimes each year to the 20% from last for the simple fact that the reporting rate is not a constant 20% of all crimes. Reporting goes up and down along with public concern. An increase in concern about hate crimes can increase the number of reports by the public, and even the number of police investigations, making more of the “iceberg” (or fridge) visible and inflating the numbers.

To put it plainly, if many people started to believe, fairly or not, that we are in the midst of a wave of hate, they would also start to report more hate crimes, making the data inconsistent with the past.

This is not to say that the jump in anti-Semitic hate crimes reported by sources like the ADL is a statistical mirage. But the reality is probably different from what the numbers suggest.

Independently of the ADL, the FBI has been reporting hate crime data since the 1990s through its Hate Crime database. It has developed impressive guidelinesto judge if a crime incident is indeed a hate crime, and its reports are available online. Surely, here we can expect to finally find deep databases processed by standard and reliable statistical methods!

But alas, the FBI’s numbers also need to be taken with a little grain of kosher salt. The problem is that crimes are generally reported to the local police department and not to the FBI directly, so the FBI’s data is only as good as the reports it receives.

In some states, less than 10% of the police agencies bother to report to the FBI at all, and likely only report the more severe crimes. As a credit to the system, the FBI provides consistent data that goes back to the 1990s, and thus is well-suited to recording if there are any national trends.

But charting the FBI data from 1996 to 2017 suggests that we are far from having achieved new heights of anti-Semitism. Rather, anti-Semitic incidents peaked in 1999 at 1,109 per year, then declined from 2008 to 2014, and have been trending up since then, reaching 976 in 2017.

As with the ADL numbers, the data quality is not great, thanks to under-reporting. But even taking that into account, we appear to still be well below the numbers of the 1990s.

Fortunately, there is another government crime tracking program that has been all but forgotten by the press: the National Crime Victimization Survey. Unlike the ADL and the FBI, who collect reports, the NCVS goes out to the communities and interviews some 160,000 people every year, asking them if they were victims of various crimes.

Because the NCVS uses a representative sample, it can reliably estimate the number of crimes in the entire country, including hate crimes. If there is a wave of hate in America, the NCVS would detect it in its survey.

In its most recent report, NCVS estimated that 204,000 hate crimes occur in the US annually, of which just 15,000 are confirmed by the police.

The NCVS also shows that hate crime rates have been steady every year since 2015, and were probably higher ten years ago.

There is no data specifically on anti-Semitism in NCVS, but if we assume per the FBI’s estimate that about 13% of hate crimes are anti-Semitic, then there are a staggering 26,000 anti-Semitic crimes every year in the US — 30 times more than reported by the FBI and 14 times more than the ADL.

What we can learn from these statistics is both good and bad. For all the problems of the last few years, there is no reason to fear a wave of hate, because the wave, if it exists, is a small one.

Today’s Jewish America has probably the safest existence of any Jewish community in history. In this generation, a Jew is much more likely to suffer a car accident than a hate crime.

But to believe naively in the American utopia is to ignore the truth: Hate is alive and well in America, and Jews are often the target of it.

Source: Statistics of anti-Semitism in US are misleading

Hate-motivated crimes down after peaking in 2017, but still higher than in 2016

The latest numbers from StatCan:

Following a 47% increase in 2017, the number of police-reported hate crimes in Canada was down 13% in 2018, from 2,073 incidents to 1,798. Even with this decline, the number of hate crimes remains higher (with the exception of 2017) than any other year since 2009, and aligns with the upward trend observed since 2014.

The year-over-year decrease was almost entirely a result of declines in Ontario. Nationally, the number of hate crimes targeting the Muslim population fell 50% after spiking in 2017 because of large increases in Ontario and Quebec. In 2018, there were also fewer police-reported hate crimes targeting Blacks (-12%) and fewer targeting sexual orientation (-15%). Hate crimes targeting the Jewish population accounted for 19% of hate crimes in 2018, down 4% from 2017. In 2018, non-violent hate crimes (-23%) declined more than violent hate crimes (-7%).

Police data on hate-motivated crimes include only those incidents that come to the attention of police services. These data also depend on police services’ level of expertise in identifying crimes motivated by hate.

For more information on hate crime, see data tables 35-10-0066-01, 35-10-0067-01 and 35-10-0191-01.

Quebec: Crimes haineux: «On ne voit que la pointe de l’iceberg»

Not unique to Quebec:

Les crimes et incidents haineux comptabilisés au Québec ne sont que la « pointe de l’iceberg » d’un phénomène beaucoup plus large, selon un chercheur rattaché au Centre de prévention de la radicalisation menant à la violence.

« C’est difficile à évaluer précisément, mais mon impression est qu’il y a quasiment 90 % du phénomène qui n’est pas mesuré », affirme Benjamin Ducol, responsable de la recherche pour le centre. Selon lui, cette sous-estimation fait en sorte qu’il est impossible de se fier aux statistiques pour comprendre l’évolution des crimes haineux au Québec, a fortiori pour intervenir efficacement pour les contrer et protéger les victimes.

Deux indices font dire à Benjamin Ducol que les crimes haineux sont massivement sous-estimés au Québec. Le premier est qu’il y a eu 489 crimes haineux rapportés à la police au Québec en 2017, ce qui veut dire qu’ils ne toucheraient que 0,006 % de la population. Or, en Angleterre et au pays de Galles, on a rapporté la même année 94 098 crimes haineux pour une population de 59 millions d’habitants, soit un taux de 0,16 %. C’est 27 fois plus que chez nous.

« Soit nos amis britanniques sont extrêmement haineux, soit on a un problème de mesure chez nous. » – Benjamin Ducol, chercheur rattaché au Centre de la prévention de la radicalisation menant à la violence

Pour en avoir le coeur net, son groupe de recherche a mené un sondage auprès de 1843 Québécois formant un échantillon représentatif de l’ensemble de la population. Résultat : 0,7 % des Québécois ont rapporté avoir subi un tel crime, un taux 100 fois plus élevé que ne le disent les statistiques officielles.

Sous-déclaration, sous-enregistrement

Que se passe-t-il ? M. Ducol estime que deux phénomènes sont à l’oeuvre. Le premier est le sous-signalement des crimes haineux. Pour toutes sortes de raisons, qui vont de la crainte de ne pas être cru à de mauvaises expériences passées avec la police, bien des victimes préféreraient se taire plutôt que d’aller cogner à la porte des policiers pour rapporter un crime.

« On sait qu’à Montréal, une des populations particulièrement ciblées par les incidents haineux est les travailleurs du sexe trans, illustre M. Duclos. Or, ce sont des gens qui ont énormément de conflits avec les autorités policières. On comprend qu’ils n’auront pas tendance à aller signaler une victimisation auprès de ces autorités », dit-il.

Les incidents haineux – des actes comme des insultes ou des graffitis haineux, mais qui ne correspondent pas à la définition de crimes – sont sans doute encore plus sous-déclarés, de nombreuses victimes jugeant qu’il ne vaut pas la peine de les rapporter. Le fait qu’une partie de ces actes se produisent en ligne les rend aussi plus difficiles à cerner.

Le deuxième problème est le sous-enregistrement. Lorsqu’une plainte est bel et bien déposée, il est loin d’être sûr que les policiers la catégoriseront comme un acte haineux.

« Il y a des pratiques variables, par exemple entre deux policiers qui n’ont pas la même sensibilité ou qui n’ont pas été formés de la même manière », avance M. Ducol.

Le Royaume-Uni s’attaque au problème

Le chercheur affirme que le Royaume-Uni est l’un des seuls endroits où on s’est rendu compte que les crimes haineux échappaient au radar des autorités et où on s’est attaqué au problème. Les policiers ont été formés et des campagnes publiques ont été lancées pour inciter les victimes à déclarer les actes.

Benjamin Ducol estime qu’il est urgent de faire la même chose ici. Il soupçonne toutefois que la volonté politique de le faire est faible.

« Un truc qui bloque certaines villes ou certaines institutions à mieux mesurer, c’est qu’elles ont peur qu’on vienne ensuite leur dire qu’il y a une hausse. » – Benjamin Ducol

« Imaginez qu’on commence à mieux mesurer [le phénomène] au Québec et qu’on trouve beaucoup plus de crimes haineux. Les gens vont dire : “Ah, le Québec ! C’est incroyable comme les gens sont plus racistes !” Alors que ça voudra peut-être seulement dire que la province a été meilleure, collectivement, à mesurer ces actes. »

Devant les vrais chiffres, serait-il plus difficile de soutenir qu’il n’y a pas d’islamophobie au Québec, comme l’ont affirmé par exemple le premier ministre François Legault et d’autres commentateurs ?

« C’est vrai qu’actuellement, on peut dire tout et n’importe quoi, tellement les chiffres sont mineurs », dit-il. Benjamin Ducol soutient par ailleurs qu’on ne peut pas non plus se fier aux statistiques qui montrent que les crimes et incidents haineux sont en forte hausse au Québec depuis quelques années (184 crimes rapportés en 2013, contre 489 en 2017).

« L’échantillon de base est tellement minime que ça ne veut rien dire, dit-il. La hausse, à mon avis, montre seulement un meilleur enregistrement des crimes haineux ». Selon lui, il est « presque absurde de publier des données quand on sait qu’elles ne sont pas représentatives ».

Le chercheur soutient qu’au bout du compte, de meilleures mesures des crimes haineux serviraient les victimes. « Prendre toute la réalité du phénomène permettrait concrètement de réfléchir à des mesures politiques et institutionnelles, dit-il. Notre sondage, par exemple, montre qu’une grande partie des actes a lieu dans l’espace public. Mon hypothèse est que le métro est propice à ce genre d’incidents. Si on le confirme, on peut alors faire des campagnes avec la STM, du genre : les crimes haineux dans le métro, c’est non. On peut cibler les actions. »

Source: Crimes haineux: «On ne voit que la pointe de l’iceberg»

Number of hate groups in U.S. rises to all-time high, watchdog says

Not surprising given the “enabling” language of the Trump administration:

The number of hate groups operating in the United States rose seven per cent to an all-time high in 2018, reflecting an increasingly divisive debate on immigration and demographic change, the Southern Poverty Law Centre said on Wednesday.

The SPLC, which has tracked hate groups since 1971, found 1,020 were operating in the United States last year, compared with the 1,018 record set in 2011 and marking the fourth consecutive year of growth.

The group’s annual report on hate activities blamed the rise in part on Republican President Donald Trump, whose administration has focused on reducing illegal and legal immigration into the United States.

“The numbers tell a striking story that this president is not simply a polarizing figure, but a radicalizing one,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, which released the new numbers.

White House has rejected charges of bias

“Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it with both his rhetoric and his policies.”

The SPLC defines hate groups as organizations with beliefs or practices that demonize a class of people.

The White House has repeatedly rejected charges of bias levelled at Trump, often citing the effects that a strong economy have had on minority communities. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report on Wednesday.

The non-profit said the growth of hate groups appeared to be prompting some who share their ideologies to take violent action. As an example, it cited Robert Bowers, who is accused of killing 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October while shouting, “All Jews must die.”

The report also found the number of black nationalist groups rose 13 per cent to 264 in 2018, an increase the SPLC attributed to a backlash against Trump’s policies.

Some of the SPLC’s targets have criticized the Montgomery, Ala.-based organization’s findings, saying it has mislabelled legitimate organizations.

Earlier this month, the founder of the Proud Boys, a self-described men-only club of “Western chauvinists,” sued the centre for defamation over the hate group label. He contended the Proud Boys oppose racism, while the SPLC said it stood by its research.

Source: Number of hate groups in U.S. rises to all-time high, watchdog says

Canada’s 10 worst cities for hate crime

More details from the latest police reported hate crimes report:

Four out of the 10 Canadian urban areas with the highest hate crime rates are in the Greater Toronto Area or Greater Golden Horseshoe, Statistics Canada data supplied to Maclean’s shows.

Police services covering Hamilton, Peterborough, the York region and Guelph all recorded hate crime rates per 100,000 that put their cities among the top 10 highest in the country in 2017, the most recent year with statistics available. Hamilton, Ont. saw the highest rate of any jurisdiction in the region and the third highest in the country, at 16 incidents per 100,000 people.  

Several GTA/Golden Horseshoe cities were also among the country’s urban areas with the fastest-growing hate crime rates. In 2016, only one GTA/Greater Golden Horseshoe city—Hamilton—made the top 10 for hate-crime rates.

Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, said she wasn’t surprised.

“These are very active areas for the organized far right movement,” Perry said. “Their very visibility and blatancy, I think, over the past couple of years, has contributed to that normalization of hate, that normalization of negative sentiment directed at targeted communities.”

Maclean’s analyzed numbers from police services covering a population of 50,000 people or more in order to avoid large fluctuations in the hate crime rate caused by one or two additional incidents in small towns. The analysis is based on a more detailed version of the annual hate crime data posted publicly by Statistics Canada in late November.

The increases are part of a drastic nation-wide rise in hate crime, with Statistics Canada reporting 47 per cent more incidents from 2016 to 2017. The data captures only hate incidents that were reported to the police.

Statistics Canada did not release data showing the type of incidents or motivations broken down at the police service level. Nation-wide, the government agency reported 38 per cent of hate crimes were violent, with criminals most likely to target Jews, Muslims, Black people and people with marginalized sexual and gender identities.


Police services in the GTA/Greater Golden Horseshoe region contacted by Maclean’sconfirmed that national trends in hate crime motivations were mirrored in their communities. Superintendent Ricky Veerappan, who oversees the York Regional Police’s diversity, equity and inclusion bureau, said the force launched an anti-hate campaign in 2016 in response to rising negative sentiment towards Syrian refugees.

Veerappan said some of the large increase in police-reported hate crimes in the York region might be because of those outreach campaigns, in addition to an increase in the incidents themselves. “People are maybe a little bit more comfortable in connecting with the police, knowing the resources that are available, knowing the numbers to call and knowing members of our diversity unit are very accessible,” he said.

Josh Fraser, public information officer with the Guelph Police Service, said his force also participates in anti-hate public education campaigns. He noted that while Guelph’s hate crime rate of 11.8 incidents per 100,000 people is the eighth highest for any police service covering a population of 50,000 or more, 12 of the city’s 16 incidents were graffiti-related and seven took place on the University of Guelph’s campus.

“The year before it was 10 [incidents],” Fraser said. “I’m not trying to downplay it, but it’s six more. It’s not like it jumped from 50 to 100.”

Perry, the hate crime expert, said it’s important to remember that a handful of additional spray-painted swastikas reported to the police in a city like Guelph likely represents a much larger increase. She said her research and studies conducted by anti-hate groups suggest the true total number of hate crimes in Canada may be five to seven times greater than the official police-reported figure.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “There’s something real going on there.”

Source: Canada’s 10 worst cities for hate crime

Hate crimes reached all-time high in 2017, Statistics Canada says

 

The latest numbers from Statistics Canada, showing a substantial increase compared to previous years, most notably for religiously-motivated hate crimes:

The number of police-reported hate crimes reached an all-time high in 2017, largely driven by incidents targeting Muslim, Jewish and black people, according to Statistics Canada data released Thursday.

The federal agency said hate crimes have been steadily climbing since 2014, but shot up by some 47 per cent 2017, the last year for which data was collected. In total, Canadian police forces reported 2,073 hate crimes – the most since 2009, when data became available.

The increases were largely driven by incidents in Ontario and Quebec, Statistics Canada says. The agency said the increase may have been driven by more people reporting hateful incidents to police, although it says that many likely go unreported.

In the worst incident in the country, six Muslim men were shot to death and others were seriously injured during an attack on a Quebec City mosque in January 2017. This spring, 28-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty, but said he was not Islamophobic and instead “carried away by fear and a horrible form of despair.”

Quebec reported a 50 per cent increase in the number of hate crimes in the month after the mass shooting, mainly driven by incidents with Muslims as the victims.

There was a record set in 2017 for the number of police-reported hate crimes in Canada. (CBC)

Police are also dealing with an increase in smaller incidents like hate-related property crimes.

Toronto police’s hate crime unit said it investigated 186 incidents — largely vandalism and graffiti — in 2017. In nearby Hamilton, police reported an 18 per cent increase in the number of what the force calls hate and bias incidents.

Overall, Ontario saw a 207 per cent increase in hate crimes against Muslims, an 84 per cent increase in crimes against black people and 41 per cent increase on incidents against Jewish people.

Alberta and British Columbia also reported increases in the number of incidents.

Community leaders call increase disturbing

Brittany Andrew-Amofah, of the Toronto-based Urban Alliance on Race Relations, said the increase in hate crimes is making communities feel less safe.

“It’s time for political leaders to unequivocally speak out against hate and intolerance and in support of a multicultural society where everyone feels safe to participate and contribute,” she said in a news release.

Avi Benlolo, President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, issued a statement saying while the new statistics aren’t surprising, they are alarming.

“It’s disturbing to hear that hate crime continues to increase in Canada and that the Jewish community – a community that is integrated into the Canadian mosaic — is still victimized,” he said.

Black people major targets, StatsCan reports

Across Canada, black people remained the most common targets of hate crimes based on race or ethnicity. Some 16 per cent of all incidents involved black victims.

Two per cent of police-reported hate crimes involved Indigenous people, according to the report, but it suggests a large number of all victims — possibly as high as two in three — didn’t file reports with authorities.

Hate crimes account for 0.1 per cent of the more than 1.9 million non-traffic crimes reported by Canadian police services in 2017. The agency defines hate crimes as “criminal incidents that, upon investigation by police, are found to have been motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group.”

Source: Hate crimes reached all-time high in 2017, Statistics Canada says