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Jewish Leaders Answer Trudeau

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The Canada-Israel Committee has replied to an interview given by former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, now leader of the opposition, in which he appeared to have launched what is considered by the Canadian Jewish community as an attack on Israel’s foreign policy and on the Jewish communities of Canada and the United States.

Trudeau, in his interview last Thursday in the Toronto Star, alleged that continuing pressure by Canadian Jewish leaders over anti-boycott legislation and the proposed transfer of the Canadian Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could stir anti-Semitism in Canada and that pressure by Zionist leaders in the U.S. on President Carter was making it difficult for Carter to aid the Middle East peace negotiations.

The Canada-Israel Committee, in its reply last Friday, said the Jewish leadership of Canada “is shocked and deeply disturbed by this statement. Mr. Trudeau views Israel’s policies as the main stumbling block to peace in the Middle East. We strongly disagree with Mr. Trudeau’s one-sided interpretation of the Middle East conflict. He chose not to comment on the Arab rejectionist states’ position, Jordan’s refusat to enter the peace process and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s continuing terrorism and announced goal of Israel’s destruction.”

The Committee said Trudeau “appears to suggest that it is improper for citizens of democratic states to speak freely and petition their governments on questions of foreign policy or other public issues. It is alarming that a man of Mr. Trudeau’s stature and experience should make statements which may encourage feelings of ill-will among our fellow citizens.”

NEED REMAINS FOR ANTI-BOYCOTT LEGISLATION

The Committee termed Trudeau’s comments about the Arab boycott “serious” in that the boycott affects the human and civil rights of Canadian citizens. The boycott, it added, “is also an assault on Canadian sovereignty and impinges on our right as Canadians to maximize our trading opportunities.”

Noting that Trudeau’s government tailed to enact anti-boycott legislation despite widespread support, the Committee declared that the need for such legislation “remains and the Jewish community continues to support policy initiatives in this direction. Mr. Trudeau appears to be advocating a position which endorses blackmail by giving in to the numerous threats of economic retaliation by Arab states. There is no substantial body of evidence that has been presented in the public domain to corroborate the allegation that Canada has “been hurt economically.”

Saying that Trudeau did not meet with the Jewish leadership, the statement expressed hope that he would dissociate himself from “these unfortunate comments.” The statement also said that the Jewish community leaders “continue to reaffirm their support for the Canadian government’s policy initiatives of moving the Embassy and introducing effective legislation to deal with international economic boycotts.”

The Canada-Israel Committee’s statement was signed by Harold Buchwald, president of the Committee; Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress; Judge Philip Givens, president of the Canadian Zionist Federation; and Lou Ronson, president of the B’nai B’rith of Canada.

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