Justin Trudeau Apologizes For Turning Away Jewish Refugees In 1939

Another apology in works - Canada News

Another apology in works - Canada News

Canada's PM Justin Trudeau has apologised for his country's role in turning away a ship carrying over 900 Jewish refugees fleeing persecution.

After apologizing to the passengers of the MS St. Louis, Trudeau will extend his apology to all Jews affected by Canada's anti-Semitic policies.

On May 15, 1939 the ocean liner MS St. Louis departed Germany and crossed the Atlantic with 907 German Jews aboard, desperate for refuge from persecution.

Hitler "watched on as we refused their visas, ignored their letters and denied them entry", the prime minister said in Parliament.

Forced to return to Europe, many were sent to concentration camps, and 254 died in the Holocaust. "To harbor such hatred and indifference toward the refugees was to share in the moral responsibility for their deaths".

The ship arrived in Canada more than six months after the Nazis in Germany attacked Jewish homes and businesses, burned 250 synagogues and killed at least 91 people, on a night which came to be known as Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass. We are sorry for the callousness of Canada's response.

"We certainly hope it is a catalyst for a greater discussion about contemporary anti-Semitism and what can be done by all of us - regardless of our background - and particularly what can be done on the part of government and elected officials to fight anti-Semitism", Steve McDonald, the director of policy with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said last week.

But the shooting deaths of 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue nearly two weeks ago have reframed the prime minister's plan for the apology and Jewish leaders expect Trudeau to say something more than that the Canadian government is sorry for a decision made decades ago.

American authorities have called the attack on the synagogue the worst anti-Semitic incident in U.S. history.

In Canada, incidents of anti-Semitism - including harassment, vandalism and violence - reached a record high in 2017, doubling from the previous year to 1,752, according to the Jewish advocacy organization B'nai B'rith. "Discrimination and violence against Jewish people in Canada and around the world continues at an alarming rate".

"Holocaust deniers still exist. Anti-Semitism is still far too present", he said.

"Sadly, these evils did not end with the Second World War".