Trudeau to give long-overdue apology on November 7 for Canada’s anti-Semitic 1939 refusal to accept Jewish refugees

st louis passengers 2.jpg

Happy Jewish refugees on board the MS St. Louis in 1939, still hoping to escape the Holocaust. But at a time when anti-Semitism was widespread, they were refused entry to Canada. Many ended up murdered in concentration camps.  While no longer rampant in Canada, anti-Semitism still exists and should be opposed by everyone. But what is anti-Semitism, exactly? CTIP offers a definition. Read more.

On November 7, Prime Minister Trudeau will issue a formal apology in Canada’s House of Commons citing Canada’s “absolute moral failure” in refusing access to Canada for a boatload of desperate Jewish refugees. CTIP applauds this gesture which is long overdue.

​On 7 June 1939, 907 Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis trying to escape almost certain death in Germany were denied entry to Canada, after having already been refused in Cuba and the USA. The ship returned its passengers to four European countries. Sadly, 254 of them were sent to concentration camps and perished in the Holocaust. At the time, the defacto policy of Canada toward Jewish immigration was “none is too many”.

The voyage of the St. Louis is emblematic of the desperate attempts by European Jews to escape Nazi Germany before it was too late, and of the world’s willful blindness to their plight. It is fitting that Canada apologize for its past failures and commit to learn the appropriate lessons to guide future behaviour.

The fact that Trudeau is making a statement in the House reflects the progress that has been made in two generations, in defeating racism in Canada, including anti-Semitism.

What is anti-Semitism and how does it show up in Canada today?

Anti-Semitism: “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews”.

– Oxford English Dictionary

Anti-Semitism has regrettably been a recurrent feature in Western/Christian society for over a thousand years. Anti-Semitism is one kind of racism, reflecting a fear of the “other”, which takes Jews as its target. It can be brutally violent (as in the recent massacre in Pittsburgh), or subtly implied.

In Canada, expressions of anti-Semitism have taken a variety of forms over the years. Some forms are illegal, others are not illegal, but nonetheless distasteful, ill advised and unwanted. Whether blatant or subtle, CTIP opposes anti-Semitism in all its manifestations. Here are some examples of how anti-Semitism has appeared in Canada:

  1. Violence directed toward Jews or Jewish institutions, such as harassment of persons, graffiti or defacing Jewish cemeteries or synagogues. These acts are prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada
  2. Expressions of hatred or incitement directed against Jews in Canada as a people or as individuals. These acts are called ‘hate crimes’ and are specifically prohibited by law.
  3. Discrimination against Jews in employment, housing, education, etc. In living memory, Canadian Jews have been limited in their participation in private golf or recreational clubs, or in attending certain universities These acts are now prohibited by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees equality for all irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity, etc.
  4. Ridiculing Jews. Making fun of Jews in word or deed, while not illegal, constitutes odious behavior. CTIP rejects it and will not tolerate it in any comments on this blog.
  5. Making exaggerated claims about the power of Jews in Canadian institutions. Remarks like ‘Jews control the media’ or ‘Jews control the banks” , or “Trudeau is a Zionist puppet” are sometimes heard in casual conversation, without being challenged. It is undeniable that many Jews have become prosperous and influential in Canadian society. But recognizing this is a far cry from alleging (or implying) some kind of Jewish conspiracy to exercise undue or even malevolent control over the country.
  6. Disliking Jews as individuals or as a group, because of their Jewishness. Preference for people “like me”, and antipathy towards people who are not “like me”, exists in every society. However, CTIP espouses the liberal values that urge us to see the inherent value in ALL peoples whether like or not like us.
  7. Denial of the vicious intent and the huge impact of the Holocaust on European Jews. According to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, over 15 million people were deliberately murdered by the Nazis in WWII. Six million were Jews, as one of the Nazi objectives was to wipe out the Jewish people of Europe. In fact, approximately 2/3 of the whole Jewish population, was exterminated in what European Jews call the “Shoah”. Denying that the Holocaust took place, its explicit genocidal intent or diminishing the enormity of the impact on European Jewry is hurtful and constitutes a pernicious form of Anti-Semitism.

What about criticism of Israel?

gaza shooting

In Holland, some people argued that this cartoon, which shows an Israeli soldier shooting a Palestinian in Gaza was “anti-Semitic” because he is wearing a Star of David, a Jewish symbol. But Israeli soldiers normally DO wear a Star of David. In CTIP’s opinion, criticism of Israel’s military is not necessarily anti-Semitic.

Criticism of the State of Israel or of its repressive policies toward Palestinians does not figure in the CTIP list and should not be considered to be automatically anti-Semitic.

Israel claims to be a democratic state. Criticisms aimed at showing the discrepancy between its stated objectives and its actual practice are not manifestations of anti-Semitism.

Nor does CTIP believe that questioning Zionism, (the political idea that Jews need and deserve a state of their own), is, in itself, a form of anti-Semitism.
While emotions can be high on both sides of the issue. CTIP feels that debate over whether Zionism can be consistent with democracy is a legitimate and important one. We believe that allowing and encouraging various voices (including those in favour of, as well as those opposing Zionism) is healthy and should be encouraged.

Anti-semitism is not just a Jewish problem

Racism of all kinds exists in every society and needs to be fought.

But anti-Semitism has consequences for another people – the Palestinians. The fear that some terrible catastrophe might again befall Jews is the main driver for the idea that, for their own protection, Jews need a state of their own.

The creation of a Jewish State has caused 70 years of pain, exile and humiliation for Palestinians. As long as fear dominates the thinking of Canadian Jews, it will be very difficult for them to open their hearts to feel the hurt that Zionism has caused for the Palestinian people.


The above list is not intended to be exhaustive. CTIP welcomes comments from readers who would like to add other manifestations of anti-Semitism, or indeed, to challenge any of the ideas above.

CTIP is opposed to anti-Semitism, which it sees as a form of racism. We hope all CTIP readers will join us in challenging anti-Semitic ideas wherever they are heard.


  1. I applaud CTIP for its clarity and forthrightness in its description and rejection of antisemitism and in its willingness to question the significance and validity of Zionism and the state of Israel as it is presently defined.

  2. Agreed on all 7 definitions of anti-Semitism, except asserting “Trudeau is a Zionist puppet”.

    If criticizing Zionism is not anti-Semitic, then how could charging a politician with being a puppet of that influence be, in a world of money and influence buying political favours?

    The Israel (Zionist) Lobby is the most powerful foreign policy lobby in North America (as has been ranked by Fortune Magazine). To pretend that their money and influence on Trudeau or Harper before him isn’t enormous is at best naive, if not disingenuous. Ask Dimitri Lascaris who earned from Trudeau, who previously likely had never heard of him, a fake charge of anti-Semitism. Trudeau was likely influenced by the Lobby on that, and likewise in his government’s criticism of Michael Lynk been appointed by the UN, and certainly their support for the anti-BDS parliamentary motion. In these alone, Trudeau has disabused us any notion that he isn’t a puppet on a string.

    That is not at all to assert “some kind of Jewish conspiracy to exercise undue or even malevolent control over the country.” But it is to assert, in not a subtle distinction, “some kind of open Zionist effort to exercise undue or even malevolent influence over foreign policy.” And that assertion is no more anti-Semitic than criticising Israel.

  3. A person can be an ardent anti Zionist, and yet, not possess a single ounce of anti-Semitism in his heart.

    …As long as this person is against all nation states, not just the Jewish state.

    You write that Zionism is “the political idea that Jews need and deserve a state of their own” if one strongly reject Zionism one should strongly reject the idea that Swedes or Egyptians should have a nation state of their own

    (A nation state, for those of us who don’t have a PhD in political science, is a country where a distinct cultural or ethnic group inhabits a territory and has formed a state that it predominantly governs, Canada is therefore not a nation state)

    Zionism is not meant, and should not, come at the expense of the Palestinians, a two state solution should fulfil the rights of both nations for self determination.
    guarantying the full rights of Palestinians to self determination , should not be a reason to categorically reject Zionism, it should be a demand that we pose to the state of Israel.

    Can you please help me understand why so many ardent anti-Zionists in Canada are not at all against the concept of nation states just against the concept of a Jewish nation state?

    1. Ahik, you’re looking for a contradiction where none exists. If one agrees that the French and Lithuanians get a nation state does one have to agree that that the Catalans, Scottish, Québécois, Cree, Tutsi and Jews also get a nation state? There’s no hard and fast rule about these things. It would be better for Zionism had it been a 13th century movement rather than a 20th century movement — happily, we have higher expectations now. All French citizens have equal rights. Not so for Israeli citizens. Meanwhile Israel has occupied and colonized land outside its UN-sanctioned borders for 50 years. Israel is recognized as a country and has every right to remain one; but until it acts in accordance with international law, treats its citizens equally, recognizes its obligations to the refugees it created and ends its occupation, it will arouse fervent anti-Zionism and will have earned the condemnation it gets.

    2. Why is it that Israel’s boundaries are still not established after 70 years? Something to do with Eretz Israel?

      Nation states don’t give some rights to a group of citizens whie denying them to other groups. Otherwise, they would not be “democratic”.

      In France, all citizens have the same rights and obligations. In England too but for the royal circus.

      Well, all member states of the European Union (including Sweden) consider that EU is “founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities… in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

      You ask “Can you please help me understand why so many ardent anti-Zionists in Canada are not at all against the concept of nation states just against the concept of a Jewish nation state?”
      Why is it that universally agreed rights and freedoms principles don’t mix with Zionism?

    3. Very simple: they are against an exclusive Jewish nation state as much as they were against an exclusive white state in South Africa, as in both cases they by definition marginalize other citizens.

      I at least am against say, an English or Euro-ethnic nation state in Canada, and against any kind of definition that excludes, say, aboriginals or any otherwise legitimate Canadians.

    4. Hey Ahik, thanks for your comment/question.
      Every country (or nearly) has a dominant majority group. Canada, Sweden, etc. Democratic countries define themselves as the state of ALL of their citizens.

      The issue with Israel is that it is NOT defined as the state of all its citizens but as the state of its JEWISH citizens.

      But I think you know that.

      I have a suggestion and an offer. Why don’t we organize a panel discussion here in Ottawa on the issue of whether Zionism is compatible with democracy? I do not think so, but I am sure you do. That would make an interesting public discussion. We could each add another person if you want. I’m sure Robert Assaly would be happy to participate.

      We could even try to do it at the Jewish Community Centre. They have a great facility there.
      What do you think?

      1. If we really want to exchange ideas, I’d prefer a less public setting. I’d be glad to debate you, Robert Assaly, and possibly few more people.
        You can choose the venue, it can be the JCC (which I consider as your turf ) or a neutral venue like the Churchill

        For Arthur: strangely, I agree with everything you said

        For djernakhor : Zionism is perfectly compatible with the idea of human rights. The concept of “Erez Yisrael HaShlema” – that Israel should include the West Bank , without granting citizenship to the Palestinians, is not
        Labour zionists like myself reject the concept of Erez Yisrael HaShlema

        For Robert: the state of Israel is not exclusive, 2 million Arab citizens are not excluded from the Parliament, the Universities, Hospital staff, Police, national football team or the Supreme Court

      2. Hey Ahik,
        You say you would “prefer” a less public setting. The Churchill is fine by me. A public discussion (even a smaller one) would allow others to decide who seems to be more accurate/principled. I suggest you choose another panelist, and I will also do so. that would make 4 people in total. Do yu think we should ahve a moderator. Suggestion?

      3. Thanks for thinking of me. However debate is not really my forte nor of interest to me, especially on any question to do with Zionism. I am neither a Zionist, non- or anti-Z. However, I don’t get involved in anything that yields any air time to the Zionist perspective. I would suggest someone from IJV (Diana?) would be far more appropriate on this topic.

        And for the record, I won’t set foot in the JCC until they publicly apologize for slandering me with the insinuation that I supported terrorism, within a month after 9/11, in the Ottawa Citizen.

    5. Ahik,

      You wrote “A person can be an ardent anti Zionist, and yet, not possess a single ounce of anti-Semitism in his heart. …As long as this person is against all nation states, not just the Jewish state. … if one strongly reject Zionism one should strongly reject the idea that Swedes or Egyptians should have a nation state of their own”

      This frequently heard attempt to argue that Israel is a Jewish state just as Egypt is as Egyptian state or Sweden is a Swedish state is disingenuous. The words “Egyptian” and “Swede” are defined by a geographic area. They are applied to people and other things associated with that area. Sweden, for example, officially recognizes 5 national minorities. They are all officially Swedes because of their origin. .

      That is not true of the word “Jewish”. Some define “Jewish” by a religious tradition and others go so far as to call it a “race”. I am as much a Jew as anyone in Israel but I have no known (i.e. nameable) ancestors who came from that area. Non Jews whose origin is within Israel are not called Jews even if they live in what Israel claims to be a Jewish state. Those who make this argument are just playing with words.

      Interestingly, Israel would not be as close to being a nation state as it is, if it was not for ethnic cleansing. If those people who came from what is now known as Israel, but had to leave, were allowed to return, Israel would not even be close to meeting your definition of “nation state”. Ethnic cleansing was not necessary for the formation of Sweden.

      You also wrote, “Zionism is not meant, and should not, come at the expense of the Palestinians, a two state solution should fulfil the rights of both nations for self determination.”

      Even if the entities in the misleadingly named “two-state solution” were both states in the normal sense of that word, the “solution” would come at the expense of Palestinians who were not allowed to return to the land their ancestors occupied before the mass immigration of Jews from elsewhere to Palestine occurred.

      You ask for help to “understand why so many ardent anti-Zionists in Canada are not at all against the concept of nation states just against the concept of a Jewish nation state?” We object to the fact that the creation of Israel prejudiced the civil and religious rights of pre-existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.

      1. Ahik,

        You say, “Zionism is perfectly compatible with the idea of human rights”. It is true that Zionism came in many flavours. I personally knew Austrian Jews who, after watching Hitler parading on a main street in Vienna, wanted to escape to Palestine with an intent similar to that of their friends who wanted to go to Canada or the US. By that I mean, that they did not envision a “Jewish State”, they prepared to live among Palestinians in the same way that others prepared to live here. They intended to contribute to the society that was already there, not to destroy it. That version of Zionism is compatible with the proposition that humans of all ethnicities have the same rights.

        Unfortunately, those Zionists were a small minority and that is not the way that things happened. The majority of Zionists thought and acted as if Jewish rights trumped the rights of others who were living in Palestine. It is the dominant versions of Zionism, one of which is “Erez Yisrael HaShlema”, that the critics of Zionism have in mind.

  4. I generally agree with Robert Assaly that “Trudeau is a Zionist puppet” is not per se anti-Semitic . Of course it could be in the hands of a white supremacist or if the person really meant Jews instead of Zionists . ( as an aside while Trudeau is strongly pro-Zionist and an anti-Palestinian racist, I do not believe that he is a “Zionist puppet”)

    While I agree that the apology for the St.Louis is important and long overdue , I am not as convinced that it reflects” the progress that has been made in two generations, in defeating racism in Canada, including anti-Semitism.”

    Certainly anti-semitism in Canada has been defeated in this sense : the state and quasi state institutions in Canada do not discriminate against Jews (as they used to ) , the examples of anti-Semitism that you mentioned are generally not tolerated politically or culturally by the mainstream of Canadian society (as they used to be). The Jews in Canadian society are not the “other ” that they were in a good part of the 20th century . The Jewish community is integrated and accepted into all spheres of Canadian society and its dominant political expression “Zionism ” has strong support among all elite sectors. Of course there are white supremacists that take virulent anti-Semitic positions but they have been marginalized . There remains cultural stereotypes “Jews are rich”, “Jew down ” etc and others that exist but they do not have a political expression . Anti-Semitism must be opposed : its actual manifestations must be analysed in an historical context.

    Unfortunately racism against Blacks , Indigenous people ,Muslims and others still have currency in certain state institutions and have political and cultural expression in different parts of Canadian society. For example(and there are so many) , just last week , our foreign minister pledged Canada’s iron clad support to a country Israel that treats Palestinians in a way that if these Palestinians were Jewish , would constitute open and obvious rabid anti-Semitism . This expression of support was an expression of overt racism towards Palestinians.

    A couple of remarks on Israel and anti-Semitism . I agree with many of your comments but I am wondering why on 2 occasions you inserted “not necessarily” anti Semitic .

    The colonization of Palestine by European Jewish settler colonists complicates the whole question of anti Semitism in so many ways . We are used to anti-Semitism in its Christian , European context where Jews were the oppressed “other”but it is much more problematic when we apply this model of anti-Semitism and its manifestations to a situation where European Jews formed part of the colonizers and were the oppressors.

    1. Paul, Thanks for your thoughtful comments, most of which I agree with.

      You ask about why I said criticisms of Israel or of the IDF as “not necessarily” anti-Semitic. I said that because I think sometimes legitimate criticisms are done in an “anti-Semitic” way, or in a way that at least leaves the motive of the speaker unclear. For example, if that cartoon I used had shown an IDF soldier with the caricatural Jewish big nose then it would have been anti-Semitic.

      If we are to make progress on this issue, I think, and I am sure you agree, it is important to make criticisms in a clear and principled way.

      About Trudeau. I do think that claiming “Trudeau is a Zionist puppet”, is ipso facto an anti-Semitic statement. It is also false.

      My argument is premised on my observation that most Canadian Jews subscribe to the Zionist idea of a Jewish State. Some are more liberal than others, of course, but Zionism is the overwhelming consensus in the Jewish Canadian community today. Anybody disagree?

      So saying Trudeau is a Zionist puppet means in fact, that “Trudeau is controlled by Jews”. This is false (though they certainly to have significant influence). It is also anti-Semitic because it plays into the base Jewish “conspiracy” theory whose most egregious formulation was in that racist document called the “protocols of the Elders of Zion”.

      I’m happy to hear alternate views from you, Robert, or anyone else who cares to pitch in.

      Thanks again.

      1. Peter, I strongly disagree. An overwhelming consensus does not an equation make. There is probably an overwhelming consensus among the same crowd that BDS is anti-Zionist and therefore, according to this logic, anti-Semitic.

        I have learned from IJV the dangers of equating Zionism with Judaism. To tar all Jews with Zionism, thereby equating the two, is what is anti-Semitic.


      2. Hey Robert, of course i wish it were otherwise, but why dont we ask IJV what percentage of Canadian Jews reject Zionism or the idea of a Jewish state. My guess less than 5%. Perhaps half of that.

      3. I agree with Paul, Robert and Peter.

        Technically, “Trudeau is a Zionist puppet” is not anti-Semitic; it could be about Christian Zionists, e.g., and one can always say “I don’t mean Jews. I mean Zionists.” I know quite a few Jews who talk like that. I would say people who use that phrase are not likely to be anti-Semitic, and the phrase in itself is not anti-Semitic. And my guess is that actual anti-Semites would actually say “Trudeau is a Jewish puppet” (though that makes me think “Trudeau is a puppet of the Jewish faith”).

        Still, we know that most Jews and many others will take the phrase as anti-Semitic, so one wonders why one would use that phrasing when other, less inflammatory and clearer words are available. Clearer because the meaning of Zionism is unclear and some people who call themselves Zionists want an Israel with equal rights for all citizens and are vehemently opposed to Netanyahu. I suppose one could say: “Trudeau is a puppet of some Zionists” — not quite as catchy.

        Note that Walt and Mearsheimer called their book “The Israel Lobby.” (It was controversial at the time, but more because of their claim that the Israel Lobby was powerful.)

        So why do people say things like “X is a Zionist puppet”? Because it sounds radical and tough, I think, and, when it upsets people, it confirms to the radicals that they really are radical.

        Anti-Semitic or not, I think we need to be careful about the words we use. There’s no point in unnecessarily raising the temperature.


      4. Peter, you missed my point. 90%, 95% or 98% doesn’t matter. The equation of Zionism with Judaism is simply factually wrong, and dangerously simplistic. Moreover, at a practical level that logical fallacy plays into the hands of those who simplistically equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism as a propaganda tool and to suppress intellectual discussion.

      5. Hey Robert, with respect, I do think it matters. If only 10 or 15 or 20% of Canadian Jews agreed with Zionism, then it would be much easier to make the case that Zionism is not the same as Judaism. But if 90, or 95, or 98% of Jews agree with the Zionism, then it is much harder for you and I (as non Jews) to argue credibly that it is different. I have heard a liberal rabbi say at an event that I attended “you can’t be Jewish today if you are not a Zionist.)

        Of course I know some Jews who disagree and do make the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. But today they are a tiny minority of Jews.

        This makes it very difficult to criticise Israel without appearing anti-Semitic. It is possible to do so, but we have to choose our words and and actions very carefully.

  5. Quite right Ahik – why dismiss Jewish self-determination over Palestinian, Aboriginal, Queer or Women’s rights to self-determination?

    Definitions of antisemitism have been very carefully crafted, scrutinized and adopted over the years. With no footnotes, citations or references; with no comparative examples (there are many), it isn’t possible to consider this definition with any criticality or historical rigour. Which clauses have been added or omitted in relation to other already widely accepted definitions. Why is the “Stockholm Declaration” not referenced? How does this compare with the Ottawa Protocol to Combat Anti-Semitism, recently adopted in Canada? How does it compare with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism recently adopted by the Labour Party in England?

    Here’s the missing elephant in this room: Israel. Criticism of Israeli policy is healthy and productive – as it is with any nation state or political authority. However, when scrutiny of Israel becomes excessive and disproportionate, its irrationality and animus take on the character of antisemitism. Consider the UN’s pathological focus on Israel, while ignoring so many other regimes. “As of 2015, Israel has been condemned in 62 resolutions by the Council since its creation in 2006—the Council has resolved more resolutions condemning Israel than the rest of the world combined (from the Wikipedia article on the United Nations Human Rights Council” This is worth restating: “[more condemnations] than the rest of the world combined.” That is why excessive and disproportionate criticism of Israel is included in definitions of antisemitism that have garnered broad consensus.

    1. Hey Sixmillionstitches,
      Thanks for your comment. You wonder whether the fact that Israel has been condemned so many times at the UN isn’t proof of unfair (even antisemitic) bias. But my understanding is that Israel has been condemned year after year by the UN for failing to comply with its resolutions. Often it is the same resolution which is passed, and which Israel ignores.

      Surely you would agree that a repeat offender should be condemned again. Or do you think that one condemnation is enough, and after that the whole issue dropped?

      1. UN created Israel. As a the founder, UN is more aware of what it has brought to the world and watches more closely if it keeps its promises.

    2. Six million,

      In my experience when Israelis say, “Jewish self-determination” they mean much more than those words would suggest. They do not mean that Jews should determine their own future, they want to determine the future of others who reside, or used to reside, in the area that they now control. “Jewish self-determination” is a euphemism for “Jewish determination of the future and freedoms of everyone who lives in historical Palestine. The other groups you name want be able to determine their own behaviour but not that of their neighbours.

      You say that the criticism of Israel is excessive, disproportionate, irrational, etc I believe that if you were a Palestinian who could not return to his birthplace, a Palestinian who spent years in Israeli detention without charge or trial because of participation in protests, a Palestinian who was not allowed to publish her poetry, a Palestinian who was afraid to contest an unjust traffic charge, a Palestinian whose home was demolished to make room for Jews, …, you would not feel that the criticism was excessive. In fact, you would you would know that that criticism was inadequate, ineffective, and often insincere. The condemnation will continue until Palestinian Arabs have their full rights restored. That means that Israel is able to stop it.

  6. Interesting discussion, but no one’s mentioned yet the one reason that Peter’s point #5, in particular the bit about labelling Trudeau a Zionist puppet, clanged for me. Calling someone a Zionist no longer equates to calling them Jewish. Decades ago, yes, I would agree that being a Zionist could be easily understood as such. However, today “Christian Zionists” are among the most fervent & IMHO vile supporters of Israel as a “Jewish” state: their influence in our neighbour to the south (& here in Canada) has been well-documented. Personally, I am always careful to distinguish “Jewish” from “Zionist”. If one takes a stand against Zionism, one is not taking a stand against Judaism or Jews, despite what Israel may say.

  7. Peter,

    I have experienced anti-semitism several times in my life beginning when I was only 5 years old. I have no doubt that anti-semitism is real and exists today. In spite of this, I would rather never hear the word “anti-semitism”.

    I don’t need an enumeration of many possible anti-semitic acts to define what I mean by anti-semitism.

    – If a person is victimized because he or she is a member of some ethnic group, that is racism.
    – If that ethnic group happens to be Jews, then the racism can be called anti-semitism.
    – We can give special names to racism against other ethnic groups; “Islamophobia”, “white supremacy”, and “xenophobia” are examples of such terms.

    I prefer to call them all racism. The more specialized terms can divide us; we should all be working together to fight racism.

    The term “anti-semitism” is often used as a weapon. It is applied to cases that are either not anti-semitism or are more complex than pure anti-semitism. Such acts are often labeled “anti-semitism” in order to suppress discussion, gain sympathy, or convince Jews to immigrate to Israel.

    Reports of the recent massacre of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue illustrate how the the term “anti-semitism” can be used as a weapon.

    Many reports called the killings antisemitism, saying that the victims were killed “just because they were Jews”. The killer’s social media statements belie this. He chose this particular synagogue from the many synagogues in the area because it was actively working to bring refugees to the U.S. and fighting government efforts to restrict immigration. He considered its efforts to be dangerous. He wrote that action was urgently needed because he viewed immigrants as invaders and declared, “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered.” He further stated that, after stopping these Jews, others who think like him, should kill Muslims as well as other non-white immigrants.

    The killer was clearly antisemitic but he was also Islamophobic, xenophobic, and a white-suprematist. All of those maladies contributed to his insanely murderous actions.

    The killer does not appear to have been motivated by the situation in Palestine, In spite of that fact, some Israeli politicians have used discussions of the Pittsburgh event as an occasion to attack BDS; Other Israeli officials have tried to use it to convince American Jews to move to Palestine.

    Anti-semitism, islamophobia, white suprematism and xenophobia are variants of a multifaceted disorder. Rather than single out one variant of this disease as if it were more important than the others, all of us should work together to fight the whole syndrome. Nobody is safe from racists; we should forget our differences and just condemn racism in all of its forms.

  8. I am from Vancouver,Canada and I wanted to say that Trudeau showed that he is the enemy of the Palestinian People by condemning the BDS Campaign against Israel.The BDS Campaign is doing good work and needs to continue.The Israeli Gov’t has committed crimes against the Palestinian People since 1948 and continues to do so.Palestine is been occupied and that includes all of Palestine.The Palestinian People are supported in their fight against this occupation by people in all parts of the world and this support will continue.There can be no peace with Israeli Apartheid.The BDS Campaign will continue until Israeli Apartheid is overthrown.

    1. “From the river to the sea,” the ominous BDS slogan, is echoed in your comment: “all of Palestine.” It’s ominous for recalling the Nazi fantasy of a Judenfrei world. The fact is both neighbours: Jews and Palestinians have essential claims to Palestine. Peace starts with mutual recognition.

      1. Almost every BDS poster I’ve seen has had this slogan on it. You need only google “bds” and “from the river to the sea,” or watch a few demonstrations on youtube to understand that this phrase is the de facto rallying cry.

        The slogan is pervasive, it reads: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Maps very often accompany it on graphic material – sans Israel. I read that as an old rallying cry, passed on through generations and cultures, and wonder how many converts the Judenfrei fantasy still inspires.

      2. Hey Sixmillion,
        I’m not surprised you may have seen some demonstrations with posters reading “from the river to the sea… etc.”. So have I.

        Of course there are people who support BDS who also support that slogan. But it is NOT a slogan of the BDS movement, and I don’t think you will find it anywhere in the official BDS literature.

      3. I support the Palestinian people in their quest for a homeland in Palestine, and the Jewish people in their quest for a homeland in Palestine, with Jerusalem as the capital of each.

      4. Six Million,

        You write, “I support the Palestinian people in their quest for a homeland in Palestine, and the Jewish people in their quest for a homeland in Palestine, with Jerusalem as the capital of each.”

        Do you insist that these be separate or do you accept that several different groups can have the same homeland?

        Here is how BDS describes itself, “BDS is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed on principle to all forms of discrimination, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia.” Do you oppose or support such a group?

      5. One state solutions have been proposed at least since the 1930s: a bi-national, secular state. Like my Bundist ancestors, I’m partial to that, but history has conspired against such an enlightened arrangement and the requisite mutual trust and respect between Palestinians and Jews is nowhere in site.

        The professed goal of BDS: boycotting goods produced in the occupied territories is reasonable, but the organization has allowed and not repudiated the more nefarious actions and gestures of its supporters. Fierce critics of Israel including Noam Chomski and Norman Finkelstein are suspicious of and oppose BDS for this reason. The slogan and graphics I mention are evidence of this slippage.

      6. Sixmillion,

        You wrote, “One state solutions have been proposed at least since the 1930s: a bi-national, secular state … history has conspired against such an enlightened arrangement”

        Two-state solutions have been proposed as long as one-state solutions. History has conspired against them too. Moreover, they have never been real; the Palestinian “state” in those so-called solutions was to be completely controlled and subservient to the other state. It isn’t a real two-state solutions unless the two states have the same powers.

        With regard to BDS, I suggest that we judge it by its words and actions. No organization can be held responsible for the statements, slogans, and actions of all of its supporters.

      7. sixmillionstitches’s comments are disingenuous, which makes it hard to trust him when he says “I support the Palestinian people in their quest for a homeland in Palestine, and the Jewish people in their quest for a homeland in Palestine, with Jerusalem as the capital of each.”

        I’ve met many Jewish Israelis like him, who sound fair and balanced, and might even mean it, but in fact, well as an Israeli journalist whose name escapes me put it (to paraphrase), fair to liberal Jewish Israelis requires Palestinian surrender.

        For one thing, sixmillionstitches ignores the fact that Israeli government representatives regularly use phrases similar to “From the river to the sea.” Israel’s deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said: “We need to get back to the basic truth of our right to this land. This entire land is ours. All of it, from the sea to the river, and we are not here to apologise for this.” (

        Is Hotovely’s statement ominous? Does it recall the Nazi fantasy of cleansing itself of a particular ethnicity/religion? Given Israel’s power, and its recent adoption of Jewish state legislation, I’d say such fears are appropriate.

        “From the river to the sea” is not a BDS slogan, though “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is often chanted at pro-Palestinian rallies. The Israel lobby generally gives it the worst possible interpretation — that Israel has no place and Jews will be killed or expelled. The more generous interpretation would be that from the river to the sea, Palestinians will be free (in whichever country they live); or, in the new, “single democratic state of Palestine,” everyone will have equal rights. Idealistic and risky, perhaps, but not a call for the slaughter or exile of Jews. The Lobby describes the call to respect the Palestinian right of return is a similarly apocalyptic fashion.

        Still, it would be silly to expect the Israel lobby, and perhaps Jews in general, or those who fear for Jews, to provide a generous interpretation. One might legitimately wonder if “from the river to the sea” is really a smart, tactical move on the part of supporters of Palestinian rights. If it just gets everyone scared, and provides obvious fodder for the likes of sixmillionstitches, what’s the point?

    2. Hey Stan, thanks for sharing your views.

      Is it your opinion that EVERYONE who opposes BDS as Trudeau does, is a “criminal”?

      Doesnt that seem a bit extreme? To my ear, it seems to echo the “lock ‘er up” chant of Trumps supporters.

      Why stop at Trudeau. Why not Singh, Eliz May, Helene Laverdiere, the Moderator of the United Church of Canada, various Roman Catholic cardinals and many others?

      I dont think you can expect Trudeau to support this until it has the support of many civic society members representing large numbers of voters.

  9. Excellent and very relevant discussion in terms of finding an answer to the Israel Palestine conflict.

    Antisemitism fits the historical definition of being against Jews, the ethnicity people religion and culture for whatever reason and at whatever time and place and sometimes including genocidal events.. Do not think of it as racism as such as Jews can comprise people’s of different races and are not specifically a separate race notwithstanding Hitler’s NAZI theories. Therefore do not think of Zionism as racism but rather a philosophy supporting an end goal of a state dominated and created for Jews or at least a Jewish majority as Israel defines it a “homeland for Jews”.

    This Jewish state of Israel has both democratic and equality elements for its Palestinian minoriry and also elements of supremacism, ethnic cleansing and discrimination against Palestinians particularly the ones who continue to live under occupation and control in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza with some limited self govt but unresolved conflict.

    Do not think that any criticism of Israeli policies no matter how offensive via vis a vis Palestinians is any way antisemitic if it is designed to resolve the conflict and bring resolution and change to an unacceptable status quo. It is sufficient to call them anti Israel political arguments while taking into account that such criticisms against a state’s policies do not necessarily extend to the people.
    In this concept criticism of Zionism, the founding philosophy of Israel, could be or not be considered
    antisemitic: based mainly on whether such criticism is of denying normally recognized equal rights to Jews or concersely is of the Jewish state denying normal rights to its Palestinian minority.

    In this concept calling individual critics of Israel anti semitic (usually phrased as wanting to destroy the Jewish state) is particularly offensive and defenders of Israel, even uncritical ones other equally offensive names (including Zionist puppet) are very unhelpful in effecting some sort of solution and reconciliation in the Israel Palestine conflict.. More than anything it is very distracting to getting to an equal sovereign 2 state solution of Jewish Israel and Arab Palestine with their capitals in West and East Jerusalem respectively, and international governance of the a Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy places. Such a solution with appropriate guarantees for minorities and a commitment to cooperation to achieve democratic and human rights in both Israel and Palestine shld not be distracted by “Antisemitism.

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