The federal government is pumping money toward the London Jewish Federation to help beef up security and fend off hate crimes they say are still too common in the community.
The federation’s accountant, Terry Marcus, said London might not be a hotbed of Jewish hate crimes, but incidents do happen too often to be ignored.
“We’ve been fortunate over the years to have had minimal hate crimes locally,” he said, “but across Canada and internationally hate crimes are increasing dramatically and there’s a sense amongst our congregants at each of the synagogues and here at the centre that this will increase within London itself.”
Marcus declined to elaborate on crimes that have taken place against the community or its Huron Street community centre itself because he fears reprisals.
“I don’t really want to get into the specifics because it obviously it encourages others to copycat that,” Marcus said. “It’s mostly property damage. Fortunately, there haven’t been any personal violations in any way.”
He was quick to add that doesn’t mean there won’t be physical confrontation in the future.
London North Centre MP Susan Truppe referred to federal data that shows Jews are targeted far more for hate crimes than other groups.
Attacks on members of the Jewish faith represented nearly 55 per cent of religiously-motivated hate crimes across the country in 2010, according to Statistics Canada.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s there,” Truppe said.
The money going to the community comes through the government’s Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program, which was started to help minimize the numbers of such crimes nationwide, Truppe said.
Funding from the program goes toward security enhancements to not-for-profit community centres, educational institutions and places of worship linked to a community with a demonstrated history of hate crimes.
Any group can apply for the grant, but must raise up to $100,000 on its own before the government will match it.
The Jewish Federation was the only group to apply last year in London, Truppe said. Government money going there matches the amount an anonymous donor gave to the group last year.
Marcus said it has already been spent on security systems with alarms, cameras,
monitors and 24/7 monitoring of the site itself.
The building’s previous security system was 30 years old.
“This is a significant upgrade for us,” Marcus added.