Vancouver Jewish groups condemn Ye’s antisemitic comments

Jewish groups in Metro Vancouver are speaking out against antisemitic comments. Sarah Chew speaks with one Jewish school about how it’s supporting students facing hate.

By Sarah Chew and Greg Bowman

After rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, made antisemitic comments on a podcast, saying he “loves Nazis” and “likes Hitler,” Vancouver’s Jewish community says they’re fed up.

CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, Ezra Shanken, says the rapper’s behaviour is dangerous for Jewish people everywhere.

“The idea that platforms are still being given to people to spew this kind of hateful rhetoric that is not just untrue. It is also dangerous to the safety of our community,” he told CityNews.

“I really feel terrible for the Holocaust survivors that are still alive. You know, that they have to bear witness to this kind of behaviour is traumatic for them.”

Hate crimes targeting religious groups are on the rise across the country. B’nai B’rith Canada, an independent Jewish human rights organization, says 409 antisemitic hate crimes were recorded in British Columbia alone in 2021, an increase of over 110 per cent from the previous year.

In Vancouver, Shanken says there have been instances of Jewish-run businesses having doors kicked in and hateful symbols appearing. Additionally, he notes a rise in Holocaust denial.

“We have witnesses of these atrocities. This is not a question mark. This is a period. It is a fact. The Holocaust happened. The people that were affected by it, some of them are still alive,” he said.

This kind of hate isn’t just affecting adults it appears to be hurting kids, too.

Principal of the Richmond Jewish Day School, Sabrina Bhojani, says she’s heard of antisemitism appearing among children.

“Last year, we actually had a family who approached us. They were in public school and their daughter was targeted with anti-Semitism at her school. And so as a result, they decided that they were going to actually move her schools and that’s why she joined our school community here at Richmond Jewish Day School,” she said.

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Bhojani says the school has a counsellor who can talk through the antisemitism students experience, and they’re encouraged to embrace their religious identity.

“We actually try and teach our students throughout the day as part of our instruction around our core competencies about personal responsibility and actually being proud of their own identities and who they are,” she explained.

Shanken says allies of the Jewish community can help fight antisemitism by calling it out and educating others.

“We are going to fight this. We are not going to step back and allow this type of rhetoric to become mainstreamed into our society. We will fight it every time that we see it,” he said.

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