British Columbia Premier David Eby had strong words regarding a recent rise of acts of hate in the province.
He said over the past month, the province has experienced unacceptable acts of antisemitism and other attacks on religions and ethnicities.
“I am hearing directly about acts of antisemitism from people here in our province, including the vile vandalism of a rabbi’s home and two Jewish women threatened with violence following a peaceful rally. The Jewish community in B.C. is facing more hatred and discrimination than it has in a generation,” Eby said in a written statement.
“I have learned that two Muslim women, who have chosen not to be named, were recently attacked in Vancouver and I am hearing reports of a significant increase in hate incidents from Muslim organizations.”
Free speech vs hate speech
On Oct. 15, a rabbi’s home in Surrey was defaced with eggs and a Nazi symbol.
Zev Schtroks, the rabbi’s son who also lives at the house, said he was leaving home in the evening to meet his father and walk him home when he noticed a man at the edge of the property.
“He was holding a carton of eggs under his arm and he asked, ‘Is this the Jewish temple?’” he said.
The rabbi’s son said he told the man it was a Jewish temple, and shortly after the man started throwing eggs at the building. Zev then took out his cellphone, started recording video, and called police.
“I saw him walk up to the window, but I was not really paying attention. Later, I saw the swastika and, in the video, you can see a marker cap fall.”
The man walked away while Zev was talking to police on his phone.
Rabbi Schtroks said he was not shocked at what happened.
“Like most Jewish people, I know our history and the call that went around on the internet to do something to Jewish people worldwide,” he said. “It is only eggs — that was my thinking.”
The rabbi said the local Jewish community was feeling very upset.
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Eby also is worried about the recent rise in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
“Recently, we have also seen a worrying increase in anti-2SLGBTQIA+ rhetoric here in B.C. that directly correlates to the targeting of gay and trans communities in the United States,” Eby said.
“There are very real impacts for gay and trans adults and kids here who feel that they are not welcome for being who they are.”
“We should always remember that hateful words too often precede violent acts.
“There is no place for bigotry here. There is no place for racism here. There is no place for Islamophobia or anti-Palestinian hate here. There is no place for antisemitism or anti-Israeli hate here.”
More than 1,400 people have died in Israel since the deadly incursion by Hamas on Oct. 7, while authorities in Gaza said the death toll has passed 7,300 in the territory since the war began.
Both Israeli and Palestinian supporters have held large-scale public rallies in B.C. since the conflict started, with Vancouver police saying officers responded to more than 1,600 incidents last weekend — driven partially by nine protests in the city’s downtown core.
— with files from The Canadian Press
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