Social media, new technologies help spread hate messages: rights group

Post Media     April 13, 2011

Easy access to the Internet has made it simpler for people to post hate messages according to a human rights group. Photograph by: Michael Smith, Newsmakers

MONTREAL — Anti-Semitism has gone digital as social media and new technologies provide an easy way to spread hate messages, according to a 2010 audit conducted by a human rights organization.

The League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada released its annual report, Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, Monday which has been tracking anti-Semitic incidents across Canada for the past 29 years.

The League received 564 reports of web-based hate activity with a Canadian connection in terms of content, perpetrators and/or victims last year, up from 435 reports in 2009 and 405 reports in 2008, according to the 2010 report.

“It has become so easy to make a hate comment, there’s so much expression on the Internet,” said Allan Adel, the League’s Montreal-based national chairman.

“There seems to be a banalization of racist or anti-Semitic expressions, (an adoption) of the idea words don’t hurt,” Adel added. “Our position is that’s the wrong approach.”

Adel urged policy-makers, police and every day Canadians to adopt a zero-tolerance policy wherever they see anti-Semitism, whether it be in the community or online.

“This kind of hatred is infectious and insidious,” said Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “It destroys the very fabric of Canada’s multicultural society, and those that would deny its gravity are part of the problem, not the solution,” he said.

A total of 1,306 incidents — 965 cases of harassment, 317 cases of vandalism and 24 cases of violence — were reported to the League in 2010, a 3.3-per-cent increase over 2009 and, a fourfold increase over the past decade.

“The paradox is that Canada had made such progress and now the Internet is turning the clock back,” said Chaim Steinmetz, rabbi of Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem, one of six Montreal synagogues that had its windows broken one night this January.

“The footprint of hate on the Internet is very large,” he said.

Montreal Gazette

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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