An anti-Semitic attack on a kosher cafe in Canada that police described as one of the “worst” they had seen has been revealed as a ruse by the owners. A vigil and a fundraising campaign had been set up to support the family.
The fake attack saw the BerMax Caffe and Bistro in Winnipeg spray painted with anti-Semitic graffiti and “severely vandalized.” A woman was assaulted and taken to the hospital for treatment, CBC reported at the time.
Police charged the owners with public mischief after an investigation involving 25 police officers and 1,000 hours of work revealed it to be nothing more than a scam. “In the end, we found evidence of a crime. It just wasn’t a hate crime,” Police Chief Danny Smyth said, Global News reports.
Alexander Berent, Oxana Berent, and Maxim Berent are to appear in court next month. Oxana was the woman allegedly assaulted. She denied the attack was fake on CBC Radio, saying, “We don’t joke about swastikas on our walls.”
The attack was alleged to have taken place on April 18, and it was the fourth reported attack on the cafe in five months. Police are also investigating these incidents, but haven’t commented on them yet.
“If the allegations of Winnipeg police are true, we condemn this fabrication of a hate crime in the strongest possible terms,” Jewish organization B’nai Brith Canada said in a statement.
“Making false allegations of antisemitism does nothing to quell the rise of racism and discrimination in Winnipeg and across Canada and will embolden the conspiracy theorists and purveyors of anti-Jewish hatred who blame the entirety of society’s ills on the Jewish community.”
A crowdfunding page campaign had been set up to support the family and it was closed after news emerged about the fake attack. A vigil organized for Thursday night was also canceled.