Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed his comparison of BDS to antisemitism, when asked to retract the statement at an event at Canada’s Brock University on Tuesday.
“I will continue to condemn the BDS movement,” Trudeau said.
He emphasized that this does not mean that criticism of Israeli policies is illegitimate. However, when organizations such as BDS single out Israel and delegitimize and demonize
Israel, that is unacceptable.
“It’s not right to discriminate or make someone feel unsafe on campus because of their religion and unfortunately the BDS movement is often linked to those kind of frames,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau formally apologized in November for the country’s 1939 refusal to take in a ship carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees, adding that the country would do more to protect Canadian Jews from violence.
In May 1939, the St. Louis left Hamburg in a desperate attempt to find a safe haven, escaping persecution by Nazi Germany. After it was rebuffed by Canada among other countries, the ship returned to Europe, where historians have estimated that more than 250 of the passengers were later murdered in Nazi death camps.
“We apologize to the 907 German Jews aboard the St. Louis, as well as their families,” Trudeau told the House of Commons at the time. “We are sorry for the callousness of Canada’s response. We are sorry for not apologizing sooner.”
The apology came less than two weeks after a gunman shot dead 11 people, including a Canadian woman, at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Vigils were held across Canada in the aftermath of the attack.
Jewish Canadians “are understandably feeling vulnerable” and there have been calls “to protect synagogues and other places that are at risk of hate-motivated crimes,” Trudeau said during his parliamentary address.
“And I pledge to you now: we will do more,” he said, noting that around 17% of all Canadian hate crimes target Jews.Reuters contributed to this report.