Bomb Threats And Gun Violence Continue to Impact Canadian Jewish and Muslim Communities

Multiple bomb threats against a mosque and synagogues, overnight shootings into Jewish schools, and more.

Canadian Anti-Hate Network

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Reports of vandalism and targeting of people, homes, places of worship and community centres roll in as Canada’s Muslim and Jewish communities continue to express concern about spiking Islamophobia and antisemitism. Some of the alleged incidents have involved vandalism and others, assault. 

The targeting of institutions, particularly schools, remained a pressing concern.  

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One of the most recent incidents was aimed at the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto in North York, Ontario. According to multiple reports, on November 17, the school received a threatening email with the subject line “Death by fire,” stating bombs had been planted "in or around the school" and "many Jews were going to die."

In total, 1,300 students were evacuated, according to a statement from Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow, as well as from a neighbouring synagogue that included a daycare. Police K-9 units searched the school and determined the area to be safe. 

This is not the first threat made against the same school. On October 12, three males, two minors and one adult, were arrested after allegedly entering the property and threatening the school.

A day before, on November 16 another bomb threat was allegedly called into against a Muslim community centre in Vaughan, Ontario. Police reported investigating after evacuating the Jafferi Community Centre. They reported the area safe. 

A statement from the centre indicates the call was made at 9:15 pm. The group that runs the centre, the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat (ISIJ) have said they will continue to monitor the situation. 

The National Council of Canadian Muslims added on their social media that “At this time, we do not have specific reason to believe that there is a continuing security threat to the JCC community. All measures are being taken by the executive to keep congregants safe.”

“Many Torontonians are served by the Jafferi Community Centre in Vaughan and yesterday their sense of safety was deeply shaken by a bomb threat,” Chow said in a statement. 

York Regional Police continue to investigate the incident. 

In Quebec, Montreal has had multiple severe incidents of antisemitic violence targeting Jewish places of worship, education, and community. 

On November 9, two Jewish schools were targeted in two separate shooting incidents. Staff and students of the buildings, located in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, Talmud Torah and Yeshiva Gedola, found bullet holes shot through windows of the buildings overnight. 

According to the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, (SPVM), the first impact bullet hole was reported at 8:20 am by staff at the United Talmud Torahs of Montreal. The facility includes an elementary and high school.

The building was closed at the time the incident is believed to have taken place and no injuries have been reported. SPVM said in a recorded statement they were on-site conducting an investigation and are reviewing security footage. 

At 8:50 the same morning, another bullet hole was found in the door of Yeshiva Gedola and reported by students to the police. The shooting is also believed to have taken place overnight. 

Yeshiva Gedola includes a daycare, and elementary and high school programs, according to its website.

Law enforcement reports no injuries and that a K9 unit is searching the area. No suspects have been named and no arrests have been reported at this time. Police said they are unsure if both shootings are related.

Yeshiva Gedola was the victim of a second shooting on November 12. A vehicle was seen fleeing the area after gunshots were reportedly heard, but there have been no other updates since then. 

On November 7, a synagogue and Jewish community centre were also targeted in Montreal. The charred remnants of what police described as Molotov cocktails were found outside the Beth Tikvah synagogue and a building across the street belonging to the Federation CJA (Combined Jewish Appeal). 

According to the Montreal Gazette, there was some damage to the doors but the attack took place overnight when the facilities were closed. No injuries have been reported.

There are currently no national statistics of police-reported hate crimes available to the public. Police-reported hate crimes may suggest trends, but aren’t an accurate measurement for a variety of reasons. Police statistics only capture about one per cent of the number of hate crimes that people in Canada self-report. Jewish and Muslim organizations both report significant increases in incidents targeting their communities.

In response to the increased tensions related to the Israel-Hamas war, the Government of Canada announced on November 5 that it would be adding $5 million to its already existing security infrastructure program that would allow places of worship and religious centres to pay for security upgrades. 

The program will be expanded to allow for daycare facilities, community centres and office buildings used by targeted communities to have access to the funds.

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