TORONTO (JTA) – An Ontario union leader apologized for comparing the bombings of academic institutions in Gaza to actions perpetrated by the Nazis.
"I made some remarks (about) the actions of the Israeli army and that was a stupid statement for me to make," Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario president Sid Ryan said. "I unequivocally apologize."
Ryan said he was "caught up in the emotion" when he made the comments.
B’nai Brith Canada dismissed the apology as a "public relations ploy" and the Canadian Jewish Congress expressed frustration that Ryan has continued to call for a boycott of Israeli academics, "undermining the value of his apology."
Meantime, the leader of Canada’s opposition Liberal Party, Michael Ignatieff, said Israel’s actions in Gaza are justified.
"Canada has to support the right of a democratic country to defend itself," he told reporters in Halifax this week. "Israel has been attacked from Gaza, not just last year, but for almost 10 years." Ignatieff came under fire in 2006 for saying Israel committed "war crimes" in its summer was with Hezbollah.
More than 4,000 people packed a Toronto synagogue Thursday night for a rally supporting Israel. Similar rallies were held in other Canadian cities.
Also this week, B’nai Brith Canada issued a community-wide security alert calling for "heightened vigilance." Since Israel’s invasion of Gaza, the group says it has documented "a spike" in incidents against Jews in Canada, including harassment and death threats.