April 19, 2018 7:18 am
Updated: April 19, 2018 6:30 pm

Toronto school sends letter to parents after student poster defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti

WATCH ABOVE: As Catherine McDonald reports, the incident was reported to Northern Secondary School officials after a speaker came to the school to talk to students about anti-Semitism.

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A Toronto high school is reviewing security footage to determine who was responsible for defacing a student poster with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Robert Walker, the national director at Hasbara Fellowships Canada, was giving a lunchtime talk on Wednesday — hosted by the Jewish Student Club at Northern Secondary School — when the issue was brought to light.

“Today when I spoke at Northern Secondary School discussing Israel, one of the students told me there were anti-Semitic vandals marking the Jewish club’s posters — one of which was still on the wall! Horrific,” Walker wrote in a Facebook post.

The poster, which Walker shared on social media, was written over with swastika symbols and the words “Gas Em.”


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READ MORE: York University fires faculty member after alleged anti-Semitic social media posts

School officials said in a note sent to parents on Wednesday that police have been contacted and staff are in the process of reviewing security video to identify those responsible.

“Northern is a place that promotes and celebrates diversity, inclusion, and respect for all in creating a caring and safe learning environment,” school principal Gillian Gibbons said in the letter.

“This also speaks to the need for us as a school to continue to educate our students in human rights education so that we can learn from our past in order to better our future as an inclusive society.”

The high school said staff will be speaking to students on Thursday to address the situation.

“We appreciate all situations of this nature being brought to our attention so that we can respond and continue to make Northern a safe and welcoming space,” the school said.

“Who we are as a school will be measured by how we collectively respond to this situation, and not by this single despicable action.”

READ MORE: York Regional Police seek witnesses after anti-Semitic graffiti found at Aurora high school

Latest statistics released by Toronto police reveal a 28 per cent increase in hate crimes in 2017 with the Jewish community most frequently victimized.

Out of the 186 hate-motivated occurrences last year, 53 of those targeted the Jewish community, a 23 per cent increase from 2016.

“It is disheartening and profoundly worrisome to see such a sharp increase in the number of annual hate crimes in Toronto,” Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center president and CEO, Avi Benlolo, said in a media release.

“It was an overwhelming year for the Jewish community, as we witnessed a clear increase in the number of anti-Semitic hate crimes taking place.”

The number of hate crimes reported by Toronto police last year is higher than the city’s 10-year average of 147 occurrences.

VIDEO: Swastikas reportedly found on walls at York University

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