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A police vehicle sits outside the Yeshiva Gedola, a Jewish school that was hit by gunshots for the second time in three days, in Montreal.Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press

The cops delivering the coffee was the image that went ‘round the world. But long before members of the Toronto Police Department handed over the Tim Hortons goodies to pro-Palestinian protesters who have been targeting a highway overpass adjacent to a neighbourhood with a significant Jewish population, many Canadian Jews have felt unsettled, even unsafe.

To be clear, the officers did not purchase the coffee, but dropped it off on behalf of protest supporters who were not allowed on the overpass. Still, it felt like a scalding metaphor.

Protest is essential and the freedom to do so is a key tenet of a democracy, as is freedom of speech. But when protests target Jewish neighbourhoods – rather than, say, the Israeli consulate – it hurts. There are Canadian Jews who feel intimidated, scared. And it’s not just on the Avenue Rd. / 401 overpass in Toronto or the area in Windsor described as “Hebrew Heights.”

Canadians who happen to be Jewish (I happen to be one) are feeling unwelcome in many spaces. Spaces that once welcomed us can now feel hostile. Sometimes it’s school, sometimes work.

Ted Rosenberg is a family physician who has pioneered a humane house-call approach for geriatric patients. Until this year, he taught that model to medical students at the University of British Columbia. But he resigned on Jan. 1, after urging the administration for more than a month to address what he calls a toxic environment of antisemitism. “We as Jewish faculty feel these attacks personally and deeply,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

The final straw, he says, was seeing a colleague post an image of Christ in the rubble of Gaza on social media. “People are talking about Christ-killing within this faculty,” he told me on Monday from Victoria, where he lives, noting that this is an age-old and dangerous antisemitic trope.

For many of us, aggressive posts from colleagues, friends and acquaintances (dictating, for instance, what they, non-Jews, define as antisemitic or not, or playing down the horrors of Oct. 7) are a major source of this distress. Walking into a place we might have once considered a second home (an office, a yoga studio), knowing what the person sitting at the next pod or doing downward dog three mats over has been posting about people like you.

Of course we all have a right to express our opinion. But I think it is important that people understand the consequences, perhaps unintended: some of your fellow Canadians, your friends and neighbours, feel unsafe.

Toronto resident Deborah Maes recently reached out to her cellphone provider, Freedom Mobile, to ask about a plan for upcoming international travel, including Israel. The customer service representative interrupted. “I’ve never heard of that country. Oh, you must mean Palestine,” she recounted to me.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, politics has pervaded everything; even my cellphone company,’ ” Ms. Maes said. (The company later resolved the issue to her satisfaction. Freedom Mobile, in a statement e-mailed to The Globe, apologized, saying the comments were unacceptable, and that the agent no longer works there.)

At Vancouver’s Science World over the holidays, a child-friendly show began with a land acknowledgment that ended with the words “from the river to the sea” – a phrase which some Jews perceive as a wish to remove Jewish people from the land of Israel. (Science World told me in a statement, “These comments were not appropriate, and we apologize for any impact they had on our attending guests.”)

Sure, people can vote with their wallets, but shouldn’t Jewish Canadians have the right to feel safe taking their kids to a science museum? Or call their cellphone provider without risking the shock of a political sneer?

Over the past three months, I have repeatedly heard Jewish Canadians express a version of “now I know what it felt like for German Jews in the 1930s.”

It’s not just the in-your-face protests or rhetoric many Jews find demonizing, including Holocaust inversion (portraying Jews or Israelis as modern-day Nazis). It’s being told things like “go back to Poland!” (this happened in Montreal); it’s shots fired at a Montreal Jewish school; arson at a Jewish-owned grocery store in Toronto.

We begin e-mails “I hope you are as well as possible.”

And you know what? We are not. Many Canadian Jews are not well.

You can whatabout this all you want. But why Canadian citizens and residents who happen to be Jewish should be targeted for what the Israeli government is doing in Gaza is beyond me.

Well, it’s not really. I think we all know what’s happening here.

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