Irving Abella, a historian who wrote about the refusal of Jewish refugees in Canada, died at the age of 82


Historian Irving Abella, co-author of an original book on the Canadian government’s refusal to accept Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, has died.

Avella died of a long illness on the Sunday following her 82nd birthday.

Born and raised in Toronto, he earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree from the University of Toronto.

His 1982 book, None is too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933-1948, co-authored with Harold Troper, tells a story about Canada’s antiimmigration policy towards persecuted Jews. Immigrants fleeing war helped to shed light and convince them to welcome future governments.

Between the ascension of the Nazi Party in 1933 and the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, Canada accepted only 5,000 Jewish refugees. This is a legacy that Avella and Troper called “the worst record in the world.”

This was especially true for the MS St. Louis, which was denied the right to drop passengers in Cuba and the United States in 1939. Some Canadians tried to persuade Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King to moor the ship in Halifax, but was rejected by then-government immigration official Fredrick Blair. rice field. Avella and Troper are “too many”, Blair has a special dislike for Jews, and with the full support of King’s liberal government, a very restrictive immigration designer. It was revealed that it was.

According to Avella’s own approval, “None is Too Many” was not considered to be more than an academic text detailing a particularly dark period in Canadian history. Since then, it has gone far beyond that. In particular, the Canadian vocabulary contains the phrase “not too many”. In Avella’s own words, the book became “an ethical standard by which government policies of the same period were evaluated.”

To that end, some pre-copies of the chapters of the book were in the 1970s, as the Canadians were discussing what the country should do, if any, about the crisis of Vietnamese refugees who became known as boats. People sent to former Immigration Minister Ron Atky in the second half. After reading those chapters and learning Canada’s sad treatment of European Jews, Atkey vowed not to repeat his past mistakes, and Canada welcomed tens of thousands of new citizens.

The book won the 1983 US Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category.

Avella was also very critical of accepting thousands of Nazi collaborators and war criminals, especially members of the Waffen-SS Galician Division, which consisted of Ukrainian nationalists and fascists after the war.

In a 1997 “60 Minutes” interview with Mike Wallace, Avella stated that entering Canada was relatively easy for SS members. Their trademark tattoos showed that they were definitely anti-communists.

Avella also wrote “Many Colored Coats: The Second Century of Canadian Jewish Life,” an important text recording the history of Canadian Jews, and some important texts on the history of the Canadian labor movement. He was also the author. He taught his career at the University of York and held the position of Professor Schiff in Canadian Jewish History towards the end of his career.

From 1992 to 1995, Avella was active off-campus as chair of the Canadian Jewish Congress and as chair of Vision TV, a religious television channel.

“Irving Abella was a typical Canadian Jewish leader,” said Bernie Farber, a former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress and now chairman of Canada’s Anti-Hate Network. “He was wise, clear, charming, bold and positive. His inspiring leadership has become his legacy. To me, he was my leader and teacher. He. May my memory always be for the blessing. “

Abella married Rosalie Silberman Abella, a former Canadian Supreme Court. He was not only the first Jewish woman, but also the first refugee to sit in the Canadian Supreme Court. They have two sons, Jacob and Zachary.

Avella became a member of the Order of Canada in 1993 and the Order of Ontario in 2014. He is also a member of the Royal Society of Canada and was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.

Taylor Noakes

Canadian press