Sunday, May 30, 2010
‘Perfect Timing’ for Netanyahu in Toronto ‘Walk for Israel’
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu joins Toronto’s Walk for Israel Sunday in what his spokesman said is "perfect timing" for the first Israeli prime ministerial visit to Ottawa in 16 years. The last Israeli prime minister to visit Canada was Yitzchak Rabin in 1994.
The timing is perfect," said Amir Gissin, Israel's consul general in Toronto. "Today Canada is a very close friend of Israel, with both a friendly government and opposition; we just had the premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, in Israel." McGuinty's visit focused on increasing trade with Israel but also included a meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
The enthusiastic welcome expected in Canada will give Prime Minister Netanyahu a positive send-off for his quick visit to U.S. President Barack Obama later in the week and in the wake of the American president’s departure from a 40-year U.S. policy not to pressure Israel to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s planned participation in the march has thrilled the country’s Jewish community, and B’nai Brith Canada is publishing full-page national advertisements thanking Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his support for Israel. The ads also call on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to ensure that Jerusalem remains the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish State.
Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith Canada’s Executive Vice President, noted “the pressure being applied by the Obama Administration on Prime Minister Netanyahu to make concessions to the divided and uncompromising Palestinian factions….The Israeli Prime Minister will be heading to a meeting with President Obama right after his trip to Canada, so it is important that he understands that his position for a united Jerusalem is supported by Jews around the world.”
Shimon Fogel, chief executive officer of the Canada-Israel Committee, stated, "Iran represents the most pressing threat to global security today. The international community cannot allow itself to be distracted from addressing the threat Iran represents, not just to Israel or to regional stability - but in a very real sense to Canada and Canadians both at home and abroad.”
The Canadian Conservative government has been a staunch supporter of Israel since taking office in 2006. "I welcome the opportunity to spend time with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a leader of vision and conviction and a great friend of Israel and a champion of peace," Prime Minister Netanyahu said before arriving Friday for a four-day visit. "The friendship between Israel and Canada is exceptionally warm. We are sister democracies that seek peace with security, progress and prosperity."
"What Netanyahu is trying to do is cement the base," said Dr, David Bercuson, the director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary and author of Canada and the Birth of Israel. The Al Jazeera satellite network quoted him as saying, "The Israeli diplomatic position is deteriorating and he's trying to keep the stalwarts in place."
Canada was the first country in the world to boycott the de facto Hamas government in Gaza in 2006 when it forced out the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in a militia coup. "Not a red cent to Hamas," said then-Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay.
Canada also stood four-square behind Israel’s retaliatory actions in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. "I think Israel's response under the circumstances has been measured," Prime Minister Harper said at the time. He called Hizbullah and Hamas “genocidal.”