OTTAWA – It began as an apology for a shameful chapter in Canadian history and ended with an urgent call…
OTTAWA – It began as an apology for a shameful chapter in Canadian history and ended with an urgent call to fight anti-semitism here and now.
On Wednesday, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a long-planned apology for the government’s decision of 1939 to reverse M.S. St. Louis, an ocean ship carrying more than 900 German Jews flying in Europe.
His speech, just over a week after the massacre of the Synagogue Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, showed how anti-Semitism shaped Canada’s response to Jewish refugees who flee Germany.
“Today, I rise in this house to issue a long delayed apology to the Jewish refugees, as Canada waved away,” he said in Ottawa.
“We used our laws to mask our antisemitism, our antipathy, our regret. We are sorry because Kallas’s response is difficult. And we’re sorry to not apologize before.”
After taking office Trudeau has delivered several high-profile apologies, as many as he has faced with the responsibility to apologize too much. Critics wonder what works an excuse, which benefits and if you say “sorry” is ever really enough.
However, soon after what might have been the deadliest attack on Jews in American history, at a time when anti-Semitic memes and conspiracy theories burst into the populist mainstream, Trudeau’s remarks urgently believed.
The apology committed to present shows how the hatred that animated Canada’s treatment of Jewish refugees is still involved in contemporary politics in Canada, the United States and other countries.
Trudeau said 1
7 percent of all crimes in Canada target Jews.
“The Holocaust deniers are still there,” he said. “Anti-Semitism is still at the moment. Jewish institutions and neighborhoods are still vandalized with swastikas.”
He condemned the attacks in Pittsburgh as an “anti-Semitic violence act”.
“Canada and Canadians will continue to stand with Jewish society and call out the hatred that caused such contemptuous acts,” he said. “These tragic events ultimately confirm the work we still have to do.”
The history of M.S. St. Louis has long been a shame for a country that likes to think of itself as a retreat.
In May 1939, just a few months before the outbreak of the war, a sea food left Europe with more than 1,000 passengers, including 907 German Jews. The boat took it to Cuba, but the Jewish refugees did not land. The United States turned them away later.
With the ship day from Halifax, the Canadian government decided not to help. The ship was sent back to Europe, and 254 of them aboard the Holocaust.
Canada’s rejection of St. Louis was not an isolated incident. In terms of Jewish immigration, Canada’s policy was “none too many,” said Trudeau.
“Of all the Allied countries, Canada would recognize the least Jews between 1933 and 1945. Much less than the United Kingdom and significantly less per capita than the United States,” said Trudeau.
When the possibility of apostasy for MS St Louis affairs arose, some members of Jewish society expressed concern that a decade excuse for the turn of the ship would be too late, too late.
Writing in the Canadian Jewish News, Sally Zerker, an emeritus professor at Toronto York University, who had family members among those who turned away last year claimed that an apology from Trudeau would be “meaningless”.
“It will not return my relatives or give me any consolation,” she wrote. “Instead, it will throw a government that did not do anything to help the Jews who fled the Nazis and ignored the kind of anti-semitism that was endemic in Canada until the 1970s.”
Writing in the National Post on the Difference to Excuse Michael Mostyn, Chief of Baiyi Brith Canada, urged the Trudeau government to take action by allocating resources to developing a national action plan to combat anti-Semitism and engage with Jewish institutions, including synagogues, on security. 19659022] “Jewish society needs committed and coordinated government action to combat anti-Semitism’s rising tide so there are hopefully no excuses in the future,” he said.