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Jews as Symbols and Reality in Multicultural Canada
By Julien Bauer
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), April 15, 2011
The growth of Canada's Jewish population has followed the pattern of Canada's development: a shift from east to west. Until the mid-twentieth century, Montreal was the center of Canadian Jewish life; today that role is played by Toronto. About half of Canada's Jews reside in Toronto, a quarter in Montreal, and the rest in smaller communities such as Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver. Jews are part of the Canadian mosaic. The perception most Canadians have of Jews-who constitute about 1 percent of the total population-is out of proportion with demographic reality. In two generations Canadian Jews have advanced socially and economically, and they are now seen differently. The image of revolutionary firebrands, trade unionists, socialists, and communists has dissipated; a new image as capitalists, wealthy, and influential has emerged.
The altered perception of Jews has left intact two old stereotypes: Jews as vindictive and as court Jews. Jews' insistence on prosecuting Nazi war criminals in Canada has been interpreted in terms of the first stereotype. As for the second, political involvement has led to the perception that Jewish leaders are ready to do anything to be accepted by the rulers. In a rapidly changing Canadian society, Jews play a role as both model and scapegoat for Muslims. Authorities and media, not knowing how to respond to certain Muslim demands, blame Jews and thus send an indirect message to Muslims. More generally, Jews are used to convey the message to religious groups that they should keep a low profile in society.
Name of Publication: Changing Jewish Communities
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Bauer, Julien. Jews as Symbols and Reality in Multicultural Canada. Changing Jewish Communities. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA). 15 April 2011: http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=11907
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