WATCH

Trudeau's anti-BDS Message During Apology for Turning Away Jews During WWII Continues to Make Waves

Justin Trudeau apologized last week for the Canadian government's failure in 1939 to admit a ship carrying 907 German Jews fleeing Nazi persecution - and took a swipe at BDS

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a formal apology over the fate of the MS St. Louis and its passengers, in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada November 7, 2018
\ CHRIS WATTIE/ REUTERS

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized last week for the Canadian government's failure in 1939 to admit a ship carrying 907 German Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

"Today I rise to issue a long-overdue apology to the Jewish refugees Canada turned away," Trudeau said in a speech to Parliament. 

He apologized to the Jews on the ship, which was forced to return to Europe, where many of the Jews later were killed in the Holocaust.

In the speech, Trudeau also took a swipe at the BDS movement, which continued to make waves days later. He said, “Anti-Semitism is far too present. Jewish students still feel unwelcomed and uncomfortable on some of our colleges and university campuses because of BDS-related intimidation."

“And out of our entire community of nations, it is Israel whose right to exist is most widely and wrongly questioned.”

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East issued a statement slamming Trudeau's statement, saying, "CJPME rejects Trudeau’s suggestion that criticism of Israel is in any way related to the despicable anti-Semitism experienced by Jews in Canada." 

Twitter users too where quick to go after Trudeau. One Conservative Canadian Senator applauded the decision, but asked if he would go further, "Bravo. So does this mean the Trudeau government will withhold funding from orgs that support BDS? I think not." While many other users were angered that Trudeau linked the apology with a condemnation of BDS.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Ana Maria Gordon, the only surviving Canadian passenger of the MS St. Louis, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 7, 2018
\ CHRIS WATTIE/ REUTERS

>> How to treat asylum seekers: A lesson to Israel From Canada

During his speech, Trudeau also cited the October 27 shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that killed 11 Jews during a religious service as a "tragic reminder" that anti-Semitism still exists in Canada and elsewhere in the world.

"While decades have passed since we turned our backs on Jewish refugees, time has by no means absolved Canada of its guilt or lessened the weight or our shame," Trudeau said.

Trudeau called on all Canadians to stand up against those "xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes."

Before the apology, Trudeau met with a woman who was a passenger on the ship that was turned away and who now lives in Canada. He also noted the 80th anniversary on Friday of the Kristallnacht, a night of violence in Germany against Jewish homes and businesses.

The apology comes amid controversy over migrants who are fleeing violence and lack of economic opportunity in their home countries in South America.

U.S. President Donald Trump has referred to multiple caravans of people moving toward the U.S.-Mexico border as an "invasion" and warned the people not to continue their march. Democrats accused the president of using fear-mongering to appeal to voters ahead of Tuesday's midterm election.