The two Israeli co-chairs of the Canada-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group paid a visit to Ottawa on Oct. 17, as part of a three-city Canadian tour.
Members of Knesset Anat Berko and Yoel Hasson also met with various members of Parliament and visited the new Holocaust monument, while they were in the nation’s capital.
Berko, who had a long and illustrious career in the military, is also an academic who has written extensively on terrorism and counter-terrorism.
She is considered an expert on terrorism in general, and suicide bombings in particular, and often appears as a commentator in the Israeli and international media.
“I am the head of the subcommittee dealing with cybersecurity, which is a big issue right now,” said Berko. “I actually explained that the whole form of terrorism in the world right now started with the Jews, but did not stop with the Jews.”
“In 2014, you had a terror attack inside your Parliament and it was a miracle that the prime minister was not murdered,” Berko continued. “They (the Canadian officials) want to learn from us and to collaborate.”
Canada and Israel co-operate in other fields, as well. “Also in high-tech, as a start-up nation, they want to learn to innovate and to create hubs of technology,” said Berko.
Having met with members of the Jewish community in Toronto prior to the Ottawa visit, Berko and Hasson were both very impressed with the commitment and dedication of Canadian Jews. “I feel that the Jewish community here is very pure, that they really care about Israel and love Israel,” said Berko.
“We need to find a way that everyone will be in our big tent of Beit Israel.… We spoke about the good relations we have with Canada. It is a lovely country with lovely people and we were accepted in a wonderful, welcoming way. It was a good visit and we will try to do more and more.”
Hasson, the deputy speaker of the Knesset, is a member of the Zionist Camp, a union of the Hatenua and Labor parties. He insisted that the trip include meetings with members of the Jewish community. “For me, it is very important to understand the needs of this community,” he said.
He agreed that Canada’s Jews are very committed to Israel, but was struck by how many people voiced concerns about issues in Israel that affect Diaspora Jews.
“We met people that really worry about all the issues of the Kotel – Reform, Conservative, light Orthodox. Also the conversion issue – I have a very clear opinion about that. The Jewish People, we are one. We cannot afford to judge, or choose how all Jews need to support each other and we need to understand what it means to be Jewish in the Diaspora and most Israelis don’t understand that. I think we need to start an open discussion, to find a solution for everyone,” said Hasson.
Following their visit to Ottawa, Berko and Hasson left for Montreal, where they met with members of the local Jewish community.