Asked to repudiate a previous condemnation of the anti-Israel boycott movement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded, “I will continue to condemn the BDS movement,” at a town hall meeting on Tuesday.
The town hall meeting was held at Brock University in St. Catherine’s Ontario. Part of Trudeau’s response was explaining how the BDS — which stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions — movement intimidates students on campus.
“When you have students on campus dealing with things like Israel Apartheid Week that makes them fearful of actually attending campus events because of their religion in Canada, we have to realize that there are things that are not acceptable not because of foreign policy concerns, but because of Canadian values,” Trudeau said. “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 things.”
Earlier at the town hall meeting, Trudeau explained that his opposition to BDS stemmed from its singling out of Israel for condemnation.
The prime minister explained that anti-Semitism often manifests itself not only as targeting individuals but also “against the very state of Israel.” He credited his friend, human rights champion Irwin Cotler, as characterizing anti-Semitic criticism of Israel as being represented by what he called the “three Ds.” These are “demonization of Israel, a double standard around Israel, and a delegitimization of the State of Israel,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister said that criticism of Israeli policies is fine and, in fact, Israel has an opposition that does just that. But the BDS movement goes much further.
Trudeau had previously condemned BDS in a speech he gave this past November, in which he apologized for Canada’s turning away of a ship with over 900 German Jewish refugees during World War II.
In a speech to parliament, the prime minister said, “Today I rise to issue a long-overdue apology to the Jewish refugees Canada turned away.”
Later on in the speech, Trudeau said, “Anti-Semitism is far too present. Jewish students still feel unwelcomed and uncomfortable on some of our colleges and university campuses because of BDS-related intimidation.”
[Photo: The Israel Project / YouTube ]