Police report: Toronto Jews remain most victimized group

Toronto’s Jewish community experienced a significant increase in hate-motivated crimes and remained the most victimized group in 2020, according to the Toronto Police Service Annual Hate Crime report released April 22.

Of the 210 hate-motivated crimes reported in Toronto in 2020, 63 targeted the Jewish community – a 43 percent increase over 2019, according to Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

Members of the Black, LGBTQ and Asian communities followed Jews as the most victimized groups, as the city saw an unprecedented spike in overall hate crimes last year.

Overall, there was a 51 percent increase in hate crimes in 2020 – 210 versus 139 the year before.

Mischief to property, assault, and criminal harassment were the three most frequently reported criminal offences motivated by hate in 2020.

The Asian/Chinese and South Asian/Indian communities were the most frequently victimized groups for assault.

The LGBTQ community was the predominant victim group for criminal harassment occurrences in 2020.

According to the report, 10 percent of all reported hate crimes occurred online, increasing to 21 incidents in 2020 from eight the year before.

Jews represent 3.8 percent of the city’s population but accounted for 30 percent of hate crimes last year, the report said.

There were an additional 14 “multi-bias” hate crimes in which the Jewish community was targeted, as well as two incidents that specifically targeted Israelis.

Jews and Blacks were the most frequently victimized groups for mischief to property, which included vandalism and graffiti.

On a brighter note, the number of arrests related to hate crimes increased to 41 in 2020 from 23 in 2019.

There was better news in York Region, north of Toronto, where hate crimes targeting the Jewish community decreased 25 percent over 2019. Still, Jews in the region were the victim of 79 percent of reported hate crimes motivated by religion, and more than 18 percent of hate crimes overall.

“It is extremely concerning to see that not only does the Jewish community remain the most targeted group when it comes to hate crimes in Toronto, but there has also been a dramatic increase in the number of anti-Semitic crimes,” said Michael Levitt, CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC).

The rise in hate crimes points to “the importance of training and providing tools to police, as well as additional efforts by government officials and schools, to combat anti-Semitism and hate and deter individuals from spreading hate in the city,” Levitt added.

What starts with online radicalization "can turn into real-world violence," said Noah Shack of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. "These reports highlight the need for urgent action against online hate and radicalization."