The Time to Call Anti-Semitism Terrorism Is Well Past Due

The vile practice of anti-Semitism has been around for millennia: when does it cross the line into acts of terrorism?

This piece first appeared in The Epoch Times Canada on May 26, 2024.

Well, this should come as no surprise to anyone. Unidentified gunmen fired shots from a dark-coloured vehicle at the Bais Chaya Mushka, a school for Jewish girls in the Greater Toronto Area, in the early hours of May 25.  These “heroes” fled immediately afterward and thankfully no one was injured.

The ever-helpful CBC won’t mention the “T” word as a possible motive (Toronto police are not ruling out terrorism at this stage but stress the investigation is ongoing and involves both the guns and gangs task force as well as the hate crime unit). For its part, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs calls it a “clear, calculated and premeditated targeting of a Jewish school for girls,” adding, “the fact a school was targeted regardless of whether kids were present or not represents another worrying escalation in the violence Jewish Canadians have been experiencing.”

Let’s unpack this, shall we?

Canada and other Western nations have been living through six months of “pro-Palestinian” demonstrations and occupations of university campuses, with “activists” calling for the destruction of the state of Israel (“From the river to the sea Palestine shall be free” means no Israel) and promoting Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah as heroic freedom fighters. All three, by the way, are listed terrorist entities here in Canada.

Many people, myself included, have been warning for months that this movement would inevitably morph into violence of the jihadi kind as terrorist groups such as ISIS have been calling for attacks to punish Israel for the war in Gaza following last year’s heinous, sub-human attack on a concert venue and communities in the southern part of Israel (replete with sexual mutilation which the pro-Palestinian crowd ignores).

That chicken—and I use that term deliberately, as anyone who shoots up a girls’ school at 5 a.m. and runs away does not embody the notion of courage—has come home to roost.

It is disheartening to hear over and over again the federal government’s pussyfooting around the issue. Sure, they will make statements of “serious concern” over the spike in anti-Semitism in Canada, only to immediately follow that by “serious concern” over a concomitant rise in “Islamophobia,” when the two are not remotely in the same ballpark. The former is orders of magnitude larger than the latter and the nature of attacks is not even close in severity.

And there’s more. Arrests of ISIS groupies are on the upswing in Canada. The Crown alleges that a gunman accused of killing a young Ontario man and shooting four of his family members at their small Mississauga restaurant in 2021 was part of a trio who had pledged allegiance to ISIS; the dead man had learned of their allegiance and was going to tell authorities. Other arrests were made in Ottawa late last year. Attacks in Montreal and Saguenay bear uncanny resemblances to pro-Hamas acts in the wake of Oct. 7’s slaughter in Israel. The Saguenay attack was dismissed as being due to “a deteriorating work climate” despite the perpetrator’s praise for Hamas on his Facebook page.

The campus occupations may be winding down, forcibly if necessary, but the hate and grievance underlying them will not ebb any time soon. We should expect more plots and feeble acts of “bravery” (shooting at a school at 5 a.m. on a Saturday when no one is in the building, seriously?) in the months to come. We need the government to ensure CSIS and the RCMP have the resources to investigate, monitor, interdict, and charge those with these intentions before they act.

And we must have an honest acknowledgement from those in power to label this what it is: either anti-Jewish hatred (by the way, what does a Jewish school in Toronto have to do with IDF troops in Gaza?) or Islamist/jihadi terrorism. The latter term has been de facto banned for more than seven years because of its supposed “racist” overtones. It is nothing of the sort, but rather an accurate, internationally accepted term to describe the world’s most predominant and lethal brand of terrorism.

Canadians deserve a leadership who understands this threat and will take steps to meet it head on.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.