Sunday, February 28, 2010

Canadian Human Rights Commission calls B'nai Brith's 'Audit of Antisemitic Incidents' of "dubious scientific validity"

Canadian Human Rights Commission calls B’nai Brith’s ‘Audit of Antisemitic Incidents’ of “dubious scientific validity

Last week, B’nai Brith Canada issued their 2009 “Audit of Antisemitic Incidents”.  As usual B’nai Brith claims that Anti-Semitism "is on the rise."  On February 25 2010, The National Post took B’nai Brith to task over their annual audit / fundraising campaign. But the National Post are not the only people in town to call into question the legitimacy of B’nai Briths annual reports.

According to the National Post’s Feb 25, 2010 article:

Like a lot of groups, B'nai Brith spends a lot of ink promoting itself and seeking donations. In this spirit, it boasts that Statistics Canada and other "authoritative sources around the world" view its audit as "the single most credible study of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism and patterns of prejudice in Canada."

Who knows what Statistics Canada really thinks, but the Canadian Human Rights Commission has spoken out on B’nai Briths audits!

Internal memorandums and reports, released under the Access to Information Act, show that the Canadian Human Rights Commission laugh and dismiss the supposedly “credible” audits released yearly by B’nai Brith Canada.



The internal Canadian Human Rights Commission documents show them calling the B’nai Brith annual ‘Audit of Antisemitic Incidents’:

·        “of dubious scientific validity...”

·        “As a barometer of racist activity the audits are of dubious validity…”

·        Despite its questionable validity, the Audit received a considerable amount of media attention.”

CHRC Documents






[Click to enlarge any image]


Harvey Goldberg, CHRC

Most of the reports were written by Harvey Goldberg, who is the main policy analyst of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and is the man behind the CHRC’s main censorship tool – Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Next time the B’nai Brith claims that “anti-Semitism” is on the rise, and Canada is some intolerant Jew-hating country … take it with a grain of salt!  As according to the CHRC it is of “dubious scientific validity.”!

One size doesn't fit all

National Post 
Marie-France Coallier, Canwest News Service
The greatest flaw in B'nai Brith's annual audit of alleged anti-Semitic attacks on Canadian Jews and Jewish institutions is that it lumps the entirely trivial in with the truly appalling. An Internet blog posting blaming Jews for the H1N1 pandemic, for instance, is given equal importance alongside repeated death threats made to a rabbi. An 11-year-old boy "caught passing anti-Semitic notes at school" is seen as on a par with a man who pulled a knife on a Jewish father and his son while hurling racist epithets at them.

This fact alone makes B'nai Brith's final tally -- 1,264 anti-Semitic "incidents" in 2009 -- largely meaningless. This newspaper alone gets dozens of hateful spam emails from random bigots every week. That sort of thing is inevitable in a country of more than 30 million people. If we were to "report" all of these episodes to B'nai Brith, the organization's tally could easily double, or even triple. But that wouldn't mean that anti-Semitic hatred "is on the rise," as the group claims every year.

If B'nai Brith wants Canadians to appreciate the importance of the information in its 28-year-old census of anti-Jewish attacks, it has to stop using this one-size-fits-all approach, and begin highlighting the relatively small number of truly alarming assaults. Raising the hue and cry over the desecration of a cemetery is sensible. Raising the hue and cry because adolescent classmates haze each other with juvenile religious taunts is not.

Jews themselves often speak of one another in terms that closely resemble anti-Semitism. The radical left-wing activists at the Toronto-based group "Independent Jewish Voices," for instance, have promoted blood libels against Israeli troops that resemble the worst species of anti-Semitic Palestinian propaganda. Should those episodes be included in B'nai Brith's report, too?

Like a lot of groups, B'nai Brith spends a lot of ink promoting itself and seeking donations. In this spirit, it boasts that Statistics Canada and other "authoritative sources around the world" view its audit as "the single most credible study of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism and patterns of prejudice in Canada." But as with any victimization study, no matter how "authoritative," it is based on self-reported incidents. B'nai Brith says its statistics show "a more than fivefold increase in [anti-Semitic] incidents over the past decade." What it really shows is a fivefold increase in the number of people willing to call B'nai Brith about their bad experiences --in large part thanks to the group's own heavy investment in its own brand: As annual audits such as this become better known, they will attract more and more callers, driving up the statistics even if no more episodes take place than in the previous year.

Similarly, the number of hate speech complaints observed likely reflects a technological expansion of the number of places hateful speech can be uttered. Five years ago, few Canadians used Facebook. Now, millions do. A single anti-Semitic status update from a single bigot can attract dozens of follow-up responses. Every one of them counts as an anti-Semitic "episode" according to B'nai Brith's dilatory calculus.

It is true that violence in the Middle East has led to an increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric in some contexts, particularly on Canadian campuses. But B'nai Brith's claim that anti-Semitism in this country is a widespread and rising problem flies in the face of reality. This is probably the least anti-Semitic country in the entire world -- including Israel -- and it becomes more tolerant, not less, with every passing year.

B'nai Brith does all sorts of fine work. But its survey of anti-Semitic incidents shouldn't blindly group all attacks together, regardless of their severity. Instead of scaring Jews into thinking that they are living in a state of anti-Semitic siege, B'nai Brith should update its mandate and methods to reflect the tolerant Canadian reality.

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