Last week, in front of a rapturous crowd at a Toronto synagogue, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government would issue a formal apology over the 1939 Canadian rejection of MS St. Louis, a ship carrying German Jews fleeing the Nazi regime.
Of the ship’s 907 passengers, 254 went on to perish in the Holocaust.
But today, it is the Jewish State which is owed a fresh apology by the prime minister.
On Wednesday, Trudeau waded into the debacle at the Israel-Gaza border by issuing a statement which opined that Israel’s “reported use of excessive force and live ammunition is inexcusable” and called for “an immediate independent investigation to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground” – all without even mentioning the Hamas terrorist group which facilitated the riots by name.
In the first hours after Tuesday’s bloodshed, in which 62 Palestinians were killed, misinformation was rampant.
Many assumed, for example, that most of those killed were unarmed civilians. Then, on Wednesday morning, Palestinian spokesman Salah al-Bardawil set the record straight, telling an interviewer that 50 of the 62 “martyrs” from the recent “battle” were Hamas members.
Likewise, Israel’s critics suggested that it had turned its guns on peaceful protesters. But then, a Sunday interview with Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar emerged, in which he admitted, in response to questions about Hamas’s strategy, “This is not peaceful resistance.”
Of course, this is exactly what Israel had been saying all along, as it dropped leaflets throughout the Gaza Strip warning local residents not to participate in Hamas’ senseless slaughter.
If the prime minister does not want to take Israel’s word for what happened this week, that is his right – although it is also foolish, since the Jewish State is a trustworthy Canadian ally which regularly provides it with counterterrorism intelligence. But it is utterly inexcusable, to use Trudeau’s own word, for him to pretend Hamas had nothing to do with the riots when Hamas leaders proudly admit the opposite.
Particularly jarring, for many Canadian Jews and friends of Israel, was the prime minister’s suggestion that Israel has no right to use live fire to defend its borders against terrorists. It is particularly laughable in light of the fact that Israeli troops twice came under gunfire themselves from Hamas operatives.
What does the prime minister propose that Israel do instead? I certainly hope that if armed terrorists approach our border, Trudeau will be prepared to permit Canadian border guards to use real bullets.
And this is where the prime minister’s anticipated MS St. Louis apology returns to the frame. Canada’s mistake in the St. Louis affair was ultimately about its failure to protect vulnerable Jews from anti-Semitic persecution and genocide in Europe.
Today – thank G*d – the Jewish people have the State of Israel to rely upon for protection and refuge. But the promise of the Jewish State will be wasted if the international community seeks to ban it from using its considerable military force to neutralize a Holocaust-denying, swastika-bearing, gun-toting terrorist group trying to storm its border.
Has the prime minister truly internalized that Jews, just like every other people on Earth, have the right to protection from their persecutors, even by force if necessary? If he has, then he should apologize for his recent suggestion to the contrary.
— Michael Mostyn is the chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada
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