Prime Minister Trudeau (again) confuses his support for Canadian Jews with unconditional support for Israel: claims Israel and Canada share “common values”

On April 14 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent out a video message congratulating Israel on its Independence Day. But Trudeau’s message seemed to be principally aimed at Canadian Jews. “Canada will continue to condemn BDS and any movement which attacks our Israeli friends, Jewish Canadians and the values we share”, he said. Trudeau conflates his support for Canadian Jews with his unflinching support of Israel, ignoring its repeated violation of Palestinian human rights. I sent a letter to the Prime Minister pointing out that the two things are quite different. Read more…

It is customary for countries that have diplomatic relations to congratulate each other on their respective independence day – even countries with whom we have strong tensions (e.g. China or Russia). But in his “Israeli Independence Day” message, Prime Minister Trudeau went far beyond that, actively linking his support for Canadian Jews (a good thing) with support for Israel and its policies.

I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister explaining that support for Canadian Jews is not the same thing as supporting the idea of a state in which Jews have more legal rights than non-Jews.

My letter follows

April 15, 2021

Rt. Honourable Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada

Rt. Hon. Prime Minister,

I watched with some disappointment your recent video address to Canadians on the occasion of Israel’s independence Day, in which you appear to confuse support for Canadian Jews with unquestioning support for the State of Israel.

It is not the same thing.

Israel was created in 1947/48 in the wake of the terrible events of the Holocaust. At the time, many thought that the Zionist approach to protecting Jews, by the creation of a special Jewish State, made sense. Unfortunately, no concern was paid to the fact that the new Jewish State was created in an area where millions were already living. Almost 3/4 million non Jewish Palestinians were expelled. Many of them along with their descendants are still refugees to this day.

What Israel calls its “Independance Day”, Palestinians call their “disaster’ or Nakba. 

Many Canadian Jews support that idea of a special state for Jews because the history of European persecution of Jews leaves them understandably insecure.  Anti-Semitism in Canada reinforces that fear and must be strongly opposed. 

The best way to protect Jews in Canada is through strong laws and a strong public ethic against racism of all kinds. I share your concern about an upward trend in evidence of racism in Canada, including anti-Semitism. Your government has taken good steps and you personally have shown a good example in this regard.

As you rightfully point out, Canadian Jews have made significant contributions to our country in many fields. Their success in Canada over several generations deserves to be recognized and supported. So, increasingly are Palestinian Canadians, most of whom are still first or second generation immigrants.

But supporting Canadian Jews is NOT the same thing as supporting the State of Israel which has expelled and oppressed Palestinians since 1948.

To celebrate the creation of the State of Israel without also recognizing the ongoing injustice done to the Palestinians is unfair and misguided. And to claim that those who defend Palestinian human rights by calling for a legal and nonviolent boycott of Israel, are anti-Semitic, is completely wrong.

I hope that next year you will express interest and concern not only for Canadian Jews but also for Canadian Palestinians.

Thank you in advance.

Peter Larson, Chair, Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine

If you agree with the thrust of my letter, please consider sharing it with your friends who might not know about Trudeau’s statement, or who might not be clear on why supporting Israel is not the same thing as protecting and supporting Jewish Canadians.  Or make up your own letter.

A handful of letters, no matter how well written, won’t change Trudeau’s mind, of course. It seems the Liberal Party has its eye on an election and has decided that there are more votes and more money in supporting Israel than in supporting human rights for Palestinians. But if 100 or 1000 people were to send in letters along the same lines, that might have an effect on the Liberal Party’s electoral calculus.


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

Want to learn more about us? Go to


  1. How can you lie like that? Millions of Arabs were not living in the area recommended for the creation of a Jewish state nor in the area that became a Jewish state. In fact, with the combined Jewish and Arab population, British mandate Palestine did not have millions of residents.

      1. Yes, 1.9 residents in Palestine out of which 650 thousands were Jews and 1.1million were Muslim

    1. The total population of Palestine was estimated at 1.9 million , so , no, there weren’t “millions “ but that doesn’t alter what happened, nor the underlying ideology of cleansing Palestine of an indigenous population to make way for a new state. Yes there were over 1million Arab inhabitants of Palestine, and yes around 750000 were expelled. Their villages were razed and trees planted so those expelled could not return. However many people were there at the time is not really relevant in the bigger picture. Peter’s comments are exactly on point.

  2. It is so sad, in my view, that so many Jews (in Canada and elsewhere) seem to tolerate the oppression of Palestinians, in their efforts to defend Israel no matter what it does. I do understand the fear engendered by the Holocaust and ever present anti-semitism, but I don’t understand how otherwise thoughtful people can remain silent, or choose to ignore, the daily assaults on the lives of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Silence of so many (including Canada), in the face of discrimination, was what allowed Hitler to carry out his “solution.” How can any of us now remain silent as Palestinians are slowly but surely eliminated (killed, jailed, forced to leave their homes and lands, etc.).
    I am also aware that liberal Zionists continue to hope for a two state solution. They want a safe place for Jews (should it be needed), but also sincerely work for a viable home for Palestinians. Sadly, that option has basically disappeared, as the deliberate policy of establishing and supporting Jewish settlements continues to gobble up whatever Palestinian land is left. Realistically, those living in settlements are not going to leave and will fight fiercely to stay where they are (no matter what ‘enticements’ the Israeli government might offer to persuade them).
    That leaves what, as options? One state (so no longer a Jewish majority and thus power, and thus the assumption of safety), or continued slow process of forcing Palestinians to live in what is clearly recognized now as an ‘apartheid state’. How sad that it has come to this!
    I, as a non-Jewish Canadian , will not remain silent at any hint of anti-semitism I see (or hear). That is the lesson I learn from the 1930s and 1940s. but I also cannot remain silent in the face of discrimination against Palestinians or any Muslims.

    1. Bessa,
      Criticism of Israel is always welcome, what you shouldn’t do (and you did ) is

      1. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
      2. Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

      Personally I share some responsibility to the contemporary actions of the state of Israel, but I can’t see how a Canadian Jew is responsible

      1. Hey Ahik,
        Thank you for your comment. I do think it is legitimate to compare Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, but it must be done very carefully.

        They were certainly not “equivalent”. In Palestine, there was nothing like the atrocious Nazi “final solution” in which millions of Jews were murdered by specific policy. The objective was complete genocide of a people. The Zionist/Israeli objective was to take over the land. They wanted the Palestinians out, and were prepared to kill many in the effort to make that happen.

        Both were acts of “ethnic cleansing” but they were quite different in intent, method and scale.

      2. Ahik,
        Holding Zionist Jews in Canada and elsewhere accountable to the Israeli crimes, is absolutely legitimate. During all the past decades, including everyday, the Zionists outside of Israel supported Israel in many ways, some of them criminal. As going after anyone who criticised Israel and destroing him/her. Israel along the way, could do only a fraction of the atrocities, if it wasn’t due to diaspora Jews.
        .In effect the outside Zionist Jews are more responsible in shaping Israel of today, than the Israelis..

      3. Jake,

        You can hold Zionists, whether Jewish or not, responsible for their support of Israel, but please do not hold all Jews responsible. People are responsible for what THEY THEMSELVES do but not for the actions of others with whom they share a religion or ethnicity.

      4. Ahik,

        People often compare cats and dogs. Doing that is not an insult to either; it is also not praise of either. Hopefully, but not always, the comparisons are factual. I evaluate comparisons of Israeli policy to Nazi policy by the same standard; the comparison must be factual.

        It is, of course, wrong to hold Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the state of Israel but it is equally wrong to hold Palestinians collectively responsible for the actions of their governing bodies or resistance groups. Sadly, both are common.

      5. There are no legitimate comparisons between the actions and ideology of Nazi Germany and the Jewish state of Israel. Attempting to justify a comparison is attempting to justify antisemitism.

      6. Thank you Mr. Sigman for opening up this. I will shortly write a post outlining both the differences and the similarities between the two. To say they are “the same’ is not correct. To say they “cannot be compared”, is not correct either.

      7. Mr. Sigman,

        If you are trying to say that there are major differences between the two catastrophic and criminal acts, you are correct. If, on the other hand you are suggested that it is impossible or improper to compare them, i.e. to point out similarities and differences, you are clearly wrong. Paradoxically, if you say “there is no comparison between A and B” you are already comparing them.

    2. Hey Bessa,
      Thanks for your note. I would like to register a tiny note of optimism. Palestinians are NOT disappearing. There are more Palestinians living in “historic Palestine” (i.e. from the river to the sea) than there have ever been in history. This is a problem for Israel.

  3. Trudeau never fails to repeat that outrageous saying that Canada has the same value as Israel.Are we legally have laws discriminating against 20%of our population. There are about 65 legislated laws and hundreds non legislated against Palestinians inside Israel.

    Israel conducts hundreds of war crimes and crimes against humanity in West Bank and, Gaza for more than 100 years. War crimes against Lebanon and Golan Heights. What’s been done in West Bank and Gaza are crimes beyond imaginations,on daily basis.
    Assassinations around the world. Sales of arms and surveillance to the most criminal regimes. No one with absolute minimal concision and decency can utter this sinister comparison between Canada and that criminal state. Even the Americans don’t say that,, although in some aspects they share some values, the heinous ones.

  4. Thanks for this, Peter. Well written. Wuill respond in like manner.

    Alex Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, for all the people you can, as long as you ever can.


  5. Trudeau practically said that BDS targets Jewish Canadian community the same way it targets Israeli political racist and violent system. This is totally false. As a Palestinian-Canadian, I find his position dangerously misleading.

    My parents became refugees in 1948 because Zionist militia executed an ethnic cleansing plan to create a Jewish state in Mandate Palestine. My parents and many other Palestinian families were/are not allowed to go back to their home.

    Clearly, I have strong reasons to consider Israeli system racist and violent. At the same time, I have many Jewish friends here in Canada who I am proud of. They are inspiring leaders on the human rights front. It is important to differentiate between Jewish culture and Israeli racist system of oppression and apartheid.

    In one way, PM’s statement attacks my right to have Canada Jewish friends and criticize Israel at the same time. This is not acceptable and divisive. BDS is a legitimate form of non-violent struggle against Israeli racist and violent system. Actually, many Canadian Jews support it.

  6. It’s interesting that there are disparate interpretations of similar activities depending on who performs them. Whether it’s the supremacist ideology and actions of National Socialism or the Khmer Rouge, Chairman Mao, Proud Boys or Oath Keepers, the underlying values are that “we” are superior/ entitled/ special/and deserving of a certain status not granted to the “other”. From the supremacist viewpoint anything necessary to reinforce that status is allowed. There is no question that the Nazi ideology was brutal, racist and vile. But to them eliminating Jews from the new Reich was no different than excluding any other obstacle. Jewish supremacists in Israel, mainly, but not exclusively the settlers, see no illegality or lack of morals in chanting “ death to Arabs” nor in displacement from their houses, fire bombing homes, cutting down olive trees and daily attacks on women and children. Although the savagery of their behaviour can’t compare with the Nazi “ final solution “, this is simply a matter of quantity, not the quality of their ideas. Just last night in Jerusalem, a band of Israelis likely tied to Lehava, an acronym for “Prevention of assimilation in the holy land” , attacked and pepper sprayed Palestinians, injuring over 100. Whether you like it or not Israeli society is turning very far to the right sided by the political and military culture of the country. The outcome of all this will be to endanger both Israeli Jews and Jews in the diaspora. Whether you’re uncomfortable with comparing Jewish supremacist ideology with that of Nazism, is beside the point. The actions and statements of Israeli politicians and right wing extremists speak for themselves.

Comments are closed.