On Wednesday, the fourth day of Passover, B’nai Brith Canada was made aware of graffiti on the side of a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) entrance in the Yonge and Finch area. The graffiti uses the hashtag “#NoIHRA,” along with a hammer-and-sickle and the letters RSM. TTC staff have since indicated their intention to remove the graffiti.
The RSM, or Revolutionary Student Movement, is a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist group active at the University of Toronto and other Canadian universities. “IHRA” is a reference to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, which has been adopted by 30 countries, including Canada, along with the Provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick, and many Canadian municipalities.
A few days previously, on the eve of Passover, a TTC bus stop at Keele and Sheppard, also in North York, was vandalized with a sign reading, “Isreal’s (sic) Killing Children Again.” The sign was removed after being flagged by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
Both incidents are under investigation by the Toronto Police Service. The North York area is home to the bulk of Toronto’s Jewish population. Last Passover, the city was also struck by a wave of antisemitic vandalism.
“This incident is an unfortunate reminder that antisemitism exists not only on the far-right, but also the far-left,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “The Canadian Jewish community will not be intimidated by thugs and vandals, but will instead continue upholding our right to be free from discrimination, with the IHRA Definition as an important component.”
On Monday, Statistics Canada released its 2019 analysis of police-reported hate crimes in Canada, which found that while antisemitic crimes had declined in 2019, Jews were once again the most targeted religious group. Statistics Canada also noted that as per B’nai Brith’s Audit, antisemitic incidents, which are distinct from hate crimes, reached an all-time high in 2019.