Although anti-Semitic incidents have decreased, hate mongering on the Internet is a growing international problem, the executive vice-president of B'nai Brith Canada says.
There is increasing evidence that elements of Canada's extreme right are active in cyberspace, said Frank Dimant during a news conference to release the organization's annual report on anti-Semitic incidents.
Dimant said Canada's far right has become more organized and sophisticated.
``Such well-known names in the hate movement as Ernst Zundel, Paul Fromm, and Doug Christie have established sites on the World Wide Web that are updated regularly to disseminate their propaganda, raise funds, provide instructions, and recruit new foot soldiers to their cause'', Dimant said.
``As we predicted several years ago, the Internet has indeed proved to be a boon to both those who are actively seeking hate material and those who want to disseminate it, and Jews continue to be the prime target.''
He said the Internet allows right-wing organizations to reach a diverse audience and gives hate mongers a level of credibility, control, and influence that outweighs their numbers.
Instead of handing pamphlets to 100 people in a parking lot, groups disseminating such propaganda can reach tens of thousands of people in all parts of the world, he said.
Despite the decline in anti-Semitic incidents - 244 last year compared to 331 in 1995 - Dimant said there have been a number of serious incidents across the country, including the explosion of a package bomb that injured a secretary last April at a Jewish Community Centre in Calgary.
Other incidents include the painting of swastikas and other anti-Jewish graffiti during a break-in at a North York home, the defacing of a Jewish group home in Winnipeg, and the spray-painting of swastikas and slogans on a home in Sarnia.
An audited report of statistics compiled by B'nai Brith showed there were 163 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment last year compared to 251 in 1995 and 81 incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in 1996 compared to 80 the previous year.
Smaller Cities Targeted
Rochelle Wilner, national chair of the League for Human Rights, told the news conference the total figure represents a 26.3 per cent decrease in anti-Semitic incidents across Canada.
Although statistics show that anti-Semitic incidents have dropped in major communities such as Metro Toronto, home to Canada's largest Jewish population, Wilner said incidents have increased in Ontario's smaller communities.
According to the organization's figures, there were a total of 98 harassment and vandalism incidents in Metro last year compared to 158 in 1995. In regional Ontario, the report shows a total of 32 incidents compared to 29 in 1995 and 28 in 1994.