Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blasted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic and contrary to “Canadian values,” and accused it of intimidating Jewish students on university campuses.
During a town hall meeting Tuesday at Brock University in St. Catherines, 75 miles southwest of Toronto, one questioner demanded that Trudeau retract his previous condemnation of BDS.
“In Canada we have to recognize that there are things that aren’t acceptable, not because of foreign policy concerns, but because of Canadian values,” Trudeau replied.
“It’s not right to discriminate or to make someone feel unsafe on campus because of their religion, and unfortunately the BDS movement is often linked to those kinds of frames.”
Trudeau said that targeting the State of Israel was a form of anti-Semitism, quoting former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler’s characterization as “the three Ds: demonization of Israel, a double standard around Israel and a delegitimization of the State of Israel.”
“It doesn’t mean that you can’t criticize decisions by the State of Israel, that of course is a democratic country…,” Trudeau told the audience, noting that Israel’s opposition parties criticize government decisions.
Last November Trudeau issued a formal apology on behalf of the country for its refusal to accept 907 Jewish refugees aboard the German ocean liner MS St. Louis in 1939 who were seeking asylum from Nazi Germany. Canada turned the boat away and with no safe haven it returned to Europe, where more than 250 later died in the Holocaust.
During that speech Trudeau said: “Jewish students still feel unwelcome and uncomfortable on some of our college and university campuses because of BDS-related intimidation.”
Trudeau concluded his remarks Tuesday by telling the questioner, “I will continue to condemn the BDS movement,” adding that Canada supported a two-state solution “that will be negotiated directly by Israel and the Palestinian people.”