From May 7 to May 9, I personally committed up to seven acts of antisemitism, at least according to B’nai Brith Canada. 

Let me explain.

B’nai Brith Canada, which describes itself as “the country’s oldest Human Rights organization,” runs a program whereby people who believe they have “been the victim of an antisemitic incident” can report it over the phone, on an online form and/or through a dedicated app. These incidents are compiled, and then B’nai Brith releases an annual “Audit of Antisemitic Incidents,” which it claims “serves as the authoritative document on antisemitism in Canada” and is “regularly cited by media outlets, public officials, NGOs, and government bodies.”

In theory, this sort of work is a worthy endeavour. However, B’nai Brith’s reports have received serious criticism from Jews and non-Jews alike.

Earlier this month, Robert Brym, a Jewish University of Toronto sociology professor, critiqued these reports in an interview with The Canadian Jewish News. Brym claimed the organization’s studies are “methodologically very flawed,” and referred to the sort of work it and other similar groups do as “so-called research” because “it doesn’t meet the standard, professional standards.” 

In April 2021, Independent Jewish Voices Canada published a report dedicated entirely to critiquing B’nai Brith’s audits, which concluded that “their interpretation of the state of antisemitism in Canada is misleading at best, perhaps deliberately so.” 

In November, I also wrote and published an in-depth article critiquing these reports and the way they’ve been used by the organization, media, and politicians alike to attack pro-Palestine advocacy in Canada.

Many critiques of B’nai Brith’s audits have been made, but they often boil down to the following:

  1. The overwhelming majority of the incidents their reports are based on are not made public;

  1. The organization has used the highly problematic IHRA definition for antisemitism from 2005 onward;

  1. The focus of the reports is on portraying criticism of Israel as antisemitism;

  1. The results of their reports make little sense when compared to other countries (for example, according to Brym, their 2020 report found that there were 29 per cent more acts of antisemitism in Canada than the United States despite the Jewish population in the latter being 15 times larger than the former).

I have previously called on B’nai Brith to make their document of alleged antisemitic incidents public (with identifying details stripped as needed). Given that they haven’t done so, and have shown no indication that they will, I decided to conduct an experiment to get a sense of how low the bar can be for an incident to be deemed antisemitic. 

The Experiment

Earlier this month, I created two new Twitter accounts: one pro-Palestine and one pro-Israel. You can see the Twitter bios of both below.

A screenshot of the Jeremy Klein profile on Twitter. The photo and banner are a man in Toronto with two Israeli flags. The handle is @jeremyklein1986. The location is Toronto/Tel Aviv. The join date is May 2024. 60 following, 8 followers. And the bio is "Canada. Israel. Leafs. Raptors. Jays. (Not me in the photo!) #AmYisraelChai"


A screenshot of the pro-Palestine account on Twitter. The name is Toronto for 48 Palestine. The handle is @TOfor1948pal. The photo is a screenshot of an Al Jazeera picture showing the loss of Palestinian lands over decades. Th join date is May 2024. The location is Tkaronto. 49 following and 9 followers. The bio is "A human in Toronto fighting for a return of 1948 Palestine"

To avoid sounding like J.K. Rowling when naming characters, I tried to pick a generic name for the pro-Israel account. As you can see, no information is included to verify that “Jeremy Klein” is a real person, and the fact that the account’s photo is not of “Jeremy Klein” is noted in the biography. The pro-Palestine account, meanwhile, has no name or identity of any sort associated with it.

Next, I generated activity on both accounts over the course of a couple days, including following other accounts, liking and replying to tweets, and sending a few tweets of my own. Then I made the two accounts engage with each other, both in a series of public tweets and replies as well as in direct messages. The conversation between the two was adversarial, but none of what was said by the pro-Palestine account was antisemitic.

Finally, I used the email address I created for “Jeremy Klein” to get in touch with B’nai Brith and report all of the tweets and messages sent by the pro-Palestine account to “Jeremy” as incidents of antisemitism.

First I’ll show you the content of those messages (with links so you can see what they are replying to), and then I’ll present the email exchange I had with B’nai Brith in its entirety.

  • May 7: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free! You can’t stop it, but we will stop the genocide.”

  • May 7: “Israel has no right to exist. No state has a right to exist”

  • May 7: “Israel has killed more than 13,000 kids! Were they Hamas? How can you support Israel as it kills kids??”

  • May 7: “Your real friends are people who are ok with killing kids, as ‘Israel’ does. Who wants them as friends? Disgusting”

  • May 7: “Israel has no right to exist! Anti-Zionism is NOT anti-semitism”
DMs between 'Toronto for 48 Palestine' and 'Jeremy Klein'. Jeremy Klein: "You are an antisemite, you should be ashamed of yourself. How can you support Hamas and terrorism? TOfor48Palestine: "Fuck you. How can you support Israel? Do you support killing kids, like Israel does? Israel has no right to exist and the people like you that support it should be ashamed." Jeremy Klein: "Blood libel! The IDF does not kill civilians on purpose, Hamas is to blame. The IDF is the most moral army in the world. Palestinians need to be freed from Hamas. I support that, but not antisemites like you." TOfor48Palestine: "The IOF has killed more kids in such a short time than any other army. Look at Ukraine/Russia. Even Russia has acted more morally than Israel. Israel is the worst, and you're an asshole"

And here is the email exchange between “Jeremy Klein” and B’nai Brith in its entirety. 

“Jeremy Klein” (JK): “Hi, I recently became aware of the incredible work you do on the annual antisemitism reports and that we are able to report examples of antisemitism we’ve faced through the anti-hate hotline. I am new to Twitter but have been the subject of several acts of antisemitism since I joined. I wanted to ask if I should report each example through the form on your website separately, or put them all together as one report? They’ve all come from the same user on Twitter so far but there are many different examples. Please let me know so I can report them as soon as possible. Thank you, Jeremy Klein.”

B’nai Brith Canada (BB): “ Hi Mr. Klein, Thank you for reaching out to us and I am sorry you have had to experience this. You can absolutely just respond to this email with the incidents instead of using the form.” 

JK: “Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I am based in Toronto and these tweets were sent over the past few days: [links to all tweets above]

They also sent me an antisemitic private message saying, ‘Fuck you. How can you support Israel? Do you support killing kids, like Israel does? Israel has no right to exist and the people like you that support it should be ashamed.’ I see other antisemitic tweets they have made as well to other people. Can I report those? Please let me know what you think and if you need anything else. I will report more if I am unfortunate enough to have more sent to me.”

BB: “Hi Jeremy, I agree that these Tweets are very concerning. Please be assured that our advocacy is on it. The best thing to do would be to report his tweets and his account and block them. If you are comfortable, we would appreciate seeing the harassing DMs for our database of antisemitic incidents. Of course, all will be anonymous and names will be removed.”

JK: “Thank you again for your reply. Here is a photo of the DM I received. I received one more as well since I emailed you. I will follow your advice and block and report the tweets. Will all of the tweets/messages I sent you be included in the database? And if so, just as one incident, or multiple? My apologies for all of the questions, I am just eager to learn more in case I face this sort of antisemitism again in the future.”

JK: “I just wanted to follow up on my email from yesterday morning. Let me know if you need anything else for the report.”

BB: “Sorry, I forgot to reply. Thanks for bringing this to our attention and it is all good. We will continue to monitor this account.”

JK: “No problem. Can I just confirm that when these examples are added into the database my name and email address will be redacted/removed? Thanks again for the work you do, and have a nice weekend.”

BB: “Yes! And this data will also not be published publicly. We have numerous people who call us wanting anonymity and we take and the health and safety of the Jewish community very seriously.”

As you can see, no apparent effort was made by B’nai Brith to verify the identity of “Jeremy Klein.” Neither the Twitter account nor the email account included any photo of Jeremy. No request was made by B’nai Brith for me to give my address or phone number, or even any other identifying details. And given the content of the latter emails, I got the impression that this was standard practice.

In addition, as mentioned, I don’t believe any of the tweets sent were antisemitic. Instead, they consisted of opinions (that anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism; that no state, including Israel, has a right to exist), facts (that Israel has killed thousands of children since October 7) and generic slogans. The direct messages, meanwhile, were instigated by “Jeremy Klein,” and also contained no antisemitism.

Finally, the pro-Palestine account had just a single non-bot follower at the time of the experiment, raising further questions about what kind of harm such a user could cause.

Despite this, the impression I got from B’nai Brith’s emails was that these tweets and messages would be counted as antisemitic incidents, affirming my suspicions and many other public critiques, as well as raising new ones pertaining to the lack of verification of identity.

I reached out to B’nai Brith to ask them: 1) Why they didn’t verify my identity; 2) If they maintain that the tweets and messages I reported are actually antisemitic; 3) If the tweets and messages I sent would be counted as one incident or several; 4) Why they don’t make their database public, and if they ever plan to.

They failed to respond.

B’nai Brith’s most recent audit was released in the midst of this experiment. It announced a record-breaking 5,791 incidents of alleged antisemitism, up nearly 110 per cent from the previous year. 

About 84 per cent of those incidents were categorized as online harassment. Had I not alerted the organization the incidents I reported were fake, this is the category they would have fallen into (and perhaps still will). In other words, more than eight of every 10 incidents in the report were in the same category as the fake ones I reported, and potentially had the same low bar for inclusion and lack of attempt to verify the identity of the senders.

And yet, the 2023 audit received favourable coverage from media, as it does every year, including with original articles or wire copy published by the Canadian Press, Global News, CTV News, the CBC, the Montreal Gazette, the National Post, Yahoo News, Now Toronto, the Winnipeg Sun, the Toronto Sun, and so many others. 

The audit was also acknowledged by a range of MPs — including Anthony Housefather, Kevin Vuong, Melissa Lantsman and Marco Mendicinoand Canada’s antisemitism envoy, Deborah Lyons.

Antisemitism is a problem in Canada, and I have no doubt that some of the incidents contained in B’nai Brith reports are legitimate and verified. I also believe the results of my experiment should be kept in mind when you come across their reports. 

For now, check out my in-depth critique of B’nai Brith’s audits, and the way the “rising antisemitism” narrative in general has been used in recent months to distract from an ongoing genocide.

The ‘Rising Antisemitism’ Narrative Is A Distraction From Genocide
Israel lobby groups have used claims of ‘rising antisemitism’ based on shoddy data to try to ban pro-Palestine protests.