Anti semitism in Canada – is it really growing?

On CBC’s “Sunday Morning” today (January 19th), Michael Enright had a long interview with American academic Daniel Goldhagen, author of “The Rise of Global Anti-Semitism”. Mr. Goldhagen argues that anti-Semitism is a latent and endemic condition in the Christian world, always there, ready to press forward from time to time. He adds to that what he calls the Muslim Anti-Semitism of the Arab world. This anti-Semitism, while today often directed against Israel, is much more deep rooted than that. The attacks on Israel are solely “a new form of anti-Semitism”.

Goldhagen’s argumentation is the basis, of course, of Jason Kenny’s thesis that the world is awash in the “new anti-Semitism’ and that Canada should struggle against it.

He also argues that Canada is not exempt from this phenomenon, and cites worrying statistics mostly from the annual Bnai Brith survey of anti-Semitism in Canada.

I admit to being a bit surprised by how far Enright went in seeming to agree with Goldhagen. Instead of questioning his empirical evidence, Enright seemed most of the time to be asking “what are we going to do about it?”

I have three questions I wonder about:
1. How extensive is anti-Semitism in Canada today
2. Is it really growing?
3. To what extent can the Goldhagen/Kenny argument sway the Canadian public (especially those Canadians who are worried about social justice (including justice for Palestinians).

I would be interested in your opinions on any of these topics. Contributions from Canadian Jews would be especially welcome.


  1. there is no anti-Semitism anywhere. this is a total fabrication.You will find judeophobic people in tiny little group but they also hate a lot of other people so there is absolutly no need to spend so much time on paranoid jews but we must address growing racism mostly geared towards muslims and africans

    1. Hi Richard,
      thanks for your comment. I think you are mistaken. I do see signs of Anti-Semitism today in Canada, though I don’t think it is as widespread as it was when I was growing up in Canada (in the 50’s).

      The main way I run into anti-Semitism is through people attributing extraordinary power to Jews as in (“the Jews control the media”, or “the Jews control the courts”, etc.).

      The important questions in my mind are NOT whether anti-Semitism exists in Canada, but 1 whether it is significant and 2. whether it is growing.

      I don’t think so, but I am interested in hearing from Canadian Jews to tell me their experiences/observations.

      I do agree with your observation that racism towards Muslims and Africans is a very big problem, probably much bigger than Anti-Semitism.
      Thanks again for your comment.

      1. peter you have to define what you see as anti-Semitism. To denounce jewish power is not anti=semitic but the description of a might be exaggerated at times but it surely exist and definitely in the media.the fact the government has an outfit to fight this non existing problem is proof in the pudding

  2. Goldhagen’s thesis is inherently flawed, since it depends on the statistics of B’nai Brith Canada, a pro-Israel lobby organization that is a master of distorting facts, and either outright fabricating or greatly embellishing incidents it claims to be anti-Semitic. B’nai Brith, much like Goldhagen, liken criticism of Zionism and the State of Israel to be a form of ant-Semitism, which is a disturbing exploitation of the term used to silence criticism of Israel’s historic and ongoing subjugation of Palestinians.

    The pro-Israel newspaper ‘The National Post’ even claimed that B’nai Brith’s ‘Audit of anti-Semitic Incidents’ is a sham. The Post wrote that “it flies in the face of reality” to claim “that anti-Semitism in this country is a widespread and rising problem”. Canada “is probably the least anti-Semitic country in the entire world–including Israel–and it becomes more tolerant, not less, with every passing year.”

    Of course anti-Semitism exists in Canada and in other parts of the world (particularly in Hungary, where the third largest party is fascist and anti-Semitic), but it certainly isn’t as frightening as the extent to which Goldhagen claims it to be– and especially here in Canada, where there exists zero institutional discrimination towards Jews. Jews are fully integrated into Canadian society, holding some of the most well-respected positions in Canada in medicine, law, academia, politics, etc. So we need to be asking ourselves why we’re even discussing this in the first place, when other forms of hatred and societal discrimination are much more prevalent and much less addressed in Canadian society (such as discrimination towards Muslims,Arabs, homosexuals, etc.). ,

    I direct you to ‘Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (Waterloo, ON: The Canadian Charger, 2010).’ It is edited and co-authored by Canadian professor Michael Keefer.

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