Toronto, Canada - Police: "Shiksa" A Slur, Jewish Groups Say Not So

Published on: May 17th, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Toronto, Canada - The Canadian Jewish Congress says the Toronto Police Service is pushing anti-hate law "to its most absurd level" by listing "non-Jewish Shiksa" as a victim category in its latest hate crime study.

The statistical report reveals that officers investigated hate crimes in Toronto last year against such unusual victim groups as teachers, feminists, infidels, police, Nazis and pedophiles.

But it is the redundantly named category of "non-Jewish Shiksa" -- a slur for a non-Jewish woman, from a Hebrew root meaning "a detested thing" -- that has especially baffled the CJC, a prominent advocate for stronger hate crime laws.

"You just can't apply it to literally everything," said CEO Bernie Farber.

The report, not yet released on the TPS website, shows an increase in "hate/bias occurrences" over the year before, from 153 to 174, with 23 charges laid.

Jewish, black, and LGBT were the top victim categories, but Tamils also registered, with six occurrences. By far the most common crime was mischief, usually graffiti, followed by assault and threatening.

The 2009 shiksa incident, classified as "mischief," happened in 53 Division, a central uptown area colloquially known among police as "Sleepy Hollow" because it includes the city's most pleasant residential communities, including some of the Jewish neighborhoods around Bathurst and Lawrence.

It is not known whether a charge was laid, or a prosecution successful.

A letter of complaint to Alok Mukherjee, chairman of the Toronto Police Services Board, says the CJC is "frankly mystified," not just because "shiksa" is "sometimes used as a pejorative" and is therefore "inappropriate" for an official police category, but because hate crime sentencing provisions were meant to reflect not just simple membership in a group, but an "unchangeable" or "inescapable" aspect of the victim.

The Criminal Code allows for sentences to be increased if there is "evidence that the offense was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor."

It is those last five words that give rise to the category controversy.

"While it is recognized that every individual has multiple aspects to their identity, more than one of which could be cause for an offender to target them, it is the practice of the [Toronto Police Service Hate Crime] Unit to classify a hate/ bias occurrence based on the best known information that exists relevant to the offender's perception of the victim," the report reads.


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