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O' Canada
Canada's shameful historic dealings with the Jewish people can't be erased, but can be forgiven.

On May 13, 1939, the SS. St. Louis, a luxury liner out of Hamburg, Germany, set course for Cuba. On board were more than 900 desperate Jewish refugees, seeking a safe haven among the Western nations and beyond the reach of the growing menace of the Third Reich.

O' Canada
Some of the survivors at Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Havana was the first port of call for the St. Louis, where many of the passengers hoped to find interim refuge pending completion of their immigration applications to the United States. As the ship approached Cuba, however, hopes were dashed, when passengers discovered they were victims of a corrupt Cuban official who had issued an invalid landing certificate.

As the St. Louis waited at anchor in Havana harbour, desperate cries echoed around the world. Major newspapers carried the story of the "Voyage of the Damned." The international Jewish community pressed Western Governments to swing wide, doors of compassion and welcome, but the United States and Canada were adamant in their refusals. Canada's unspoken, yet firm anti-Semitic policy, "None is too many." was strictly enforced by Prime Minister Mackenzie King's Liberal Government.

Out of options, the St. Louis returned to Europe where her passengers disembarked and dispersed across England, France, Belgium and Holland. When the Nazi war machine subsequently overran Western Europe, more than 600 of the refugees—men, women and children—perished in World War II, with its infamous Holocaust.

In November, 2000, and as a result of the initiative of the intercessors' association, Watchmen for the Nations, a Canadian-based Christian ministry, some 25 survivors of the St. Louis and their spouses, journeyed to Ottawa, our nation's Capital. Once there, they joined with more than 200 Christian leaders, pastors and friends who, representing the Church across Canada, expressed feelings of remorse and asked for forgiveness and understanding from those whose lives had been unduly scarred by Canadian anti-Semitism. Hugs were exchanged and love expressed as Jew and Christian alike saw this as a God-ordained opportunity to find some measure of forgiveness and understanding amid the darkness and despair of human history.

Significantly, the meeting occurred in the Chateau-Laurier Hotel, conveniently located between Parliament Hill and the Prime Minister's residence, each a short walk in opposite directions. Regrettably, no government official took the time to meet the survivors or express sentiments toward them. To his credit, Stockwell Day, leader of the Canadian Alliance, did send a hand-written letter, extending greetings to the survivors and acknowledging Canada's shameful past toward them.

… no representative of the Canadian Government took the time and opportunity to welcome the survivors to Canada …

That these aging survivors, the youngest of whom is 61, should have accepted Christian invitations to come to Canada from distant places, that they should have travelled in spite of poor health, says a great deal about their willingness to trust, in spite of their emotional scars. That no representative of the Canadian Government took the time and opportunity to welcome the survivors to Canada, must have raised new and disturbing questions in their aging, Jewish hearts.

There's more …

The Saturday, December 2, 2000 edition of The National Post carried the banner headline "Canadian Jews Slam U.N. 'Perversions.' " Writing in response to several recent U.N. motions passed in response to the worsening situation in Israel, columnist Steven Edwards, noted "Canada voted for a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly yesterday declaring Israel's control of Jerusalem, the Jewish State's capital, to be illegal.

The vote, the most controversial of six cast on Israeli-Palestinian issues yesterday, comes on the heels of anger in Canada's Jewish community over Ottawa's voting record at the UN. Specifically, the resolution stated that Israel's decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration was illegal and therefore null and void and has no validity whatsoever.

By what standard is validity determined—the perverted standard of the UN or the sovereign standard of the God of Israel? Isaiah, speaking for Israel's God declared: " … My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please" (Isaiah 46:10b NIV).

Both the Old and New Testament prophetically make clear what God is pleased to do concerning Israel and Jerusalem. Numerous and perverted resolutions won't change or, indeed, thwart God's plans. The Psalmist of Israel asked: "Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain … The One enthroned in Heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then He rebukes them in His anger, and terrifies them in His wrath, saying 'I have installed my King on Zion, my holy Hill'" (Psalm 2:1,4-6 NIV).

He shall save Israel from her enemies, and from the hand of all who hate her (see Luke 1:71).

O' Canada, it's not enough to have words of Scripture engraved on the entranceways of your seat of Government. Your leaders must also believe "He shall have Dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth" (Psalm 72:8). They must recognize that this same God has engraved Zion upon the palms of His hands, her walls are continually before Him (see Isaiah 49:16). He shall save Israel from her enemies, and from the hand of all who hate her (see Luke 1:71). Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Rev. John Tweedie is chairman of the Christians for Israel Canada, and vice president of Christians for Israel International.

Related articles

Anti-Semitism—Root Issue of the Church

It's Time for Canada to Bless Israel

Never Again

Originally published in Christians for Israel, Winter 2001.




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