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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

‘Zionists Not Welcome’ Graffiti Found on Israeli Coffee Bar in Toronto

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Graffiti stating “Zionists not welcome” was found on an Aroma Espresso Bar in downtown Toronto on March 27.

B’nai Brith Canada posted a photo of the graffiti on Twitter after being alerted about it, writing: “This despicable hateful graffiti defacing an Aroma in #Toronto will not be accepted. @TorontoPolice have been notified. #Antisemitism.”

United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of Greater Toronto wrote in a March 27 Facebook post that it was aware of the graffiti and it has been in contact with the Toronto police and Aroma Canada on the matter.

“We stand in solidarity with this wonderful community business,” the Toronto UJA organization wrote. “There must be no place for hate in our city. We urge anyone who may have information on this crime to contact Toronto Police Service immediately.”

Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center CEO and President Avi Benlolo similarly condemned the graffiti in a statement and called on the police to investigate it as a hate crime.

“It is absolutely disgusting that in this day and age, we are still seeing such vile and anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish-owned businesses,” Benlolo said. “This is reminiscent of the attacks endured by Jewish businesses in Europe leading up to the Holocaust and serves as a warning sign for all of us that we must be vigilant and stand united to resist anti-Semitism and hatred in all its forms.”

Aroma is an Israeli chain that has more than 100 locations worldwide. There have been several efforts to boycott Aroma due to its Israeli origins. For instance, in June 2018, there were flyers in downtown Toronto calling people to “boycott Aroma,” arguing that “every cup of coffee you buy at Aroma helps strengthen this illegal occupation and Israel’s campaign of violence against the Palestinians.”

Canadian government data released in July found that there was a 4% decline in anti-Semitic hate crimes from 2017 to 2018.

Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs President Shimon Koffler Fogel said in a statement at the time, “It is deeply concerning that, despite a decline in hate crime generally, incidents targeting Jews remained relatively stable after a sharp spike in 2017. While most Canadians reject anti-Semitism, this data confirms the persistence of Jew-hatred — which is seeing an alarming global rise.”

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