Justin Trudeau Conflating BDS With Anti-Semitism Is Dangerous
By Sarah Ghabrial and Elena Razlogova
“Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
This letter concerns Canada’s recent apology for turning away the MS St. Louis in 1939. First, thank you for acknowledging Canada’s complicity in the murder of hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust. On the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, and after the recent terrorist attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue, it is more important than ever to pay close heed to Canada’s own history of bigotry and to recommit preventing such tragedies from ever happening again.
For this reason, we must register our deep disappointment with your apology’s inclusion of condemnation for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) and your equation of BDS with the worst kind of hate crimes. This troubling conflation does nothing to stop actual anti-Semitism, but instead only targets and misrepresents peaceful advocacy for Palestinian human rights. By equating the BDS movement with anti-Semitism, you help to perpetuate a chilling, anti-democratic climate on campuses, one in which dissenting voices and peaceful protest are not welcome.
We also echo the sentiment of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), who note that “[t]his apology comes within a week of an announcement by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) of plans to substantially increase deportations of migrants by 25-35%.”
The turning away of the MS St. Louis was a crime and a tragedy, one that was committed – let’s be frank – by white settler Canadians. It is shameful to try to displace the heavy burden of accounting for white Canada’s complicity in the Holocaust onto the peaceful, grassroots work of students, faculty, and community members active in the BDS movement today. Moreover, as IJV notes, even as the Liberal government apologizes for the rejection of the MS St. Louis in one breath, with the next it promises to increase that very practice, sending yet more people to torture and death.
For these reasons, your apology rings hollow. What might have been a meaningful step on the way to real accountability and human rights protection is instead a missed opportunity and major disappointment.
236 Canadian Academics”
Sarah Ghabrial is an Assistant Professor of History at Concordia University in Montreal. She was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow in History at Columbia University in New York.
Elena Razlogova is an Associate Professor of Htory at Concordia University in Montreal. She is the author of The Listener’s Voice: Early Radio and the American Public (2011).
In the same vein see: ‘The Weaponization of the IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism – CISO Conference on Palestinian Self-Determination’ ( https://dimitrilascaris.org/2018/12/04/the-weaponization-of-the-ihras-definition-of-anti-semitism/).
DISTRIBUTED BY PAJU (PALESTINIAN AND JEWISH UNITY)