Israel Television has called Jerusalem Post chief political correspondent, Gil Hoffman, “the most optimistic man in Israel.”
His remarks to a group of community leaders at Chabad House in Halifax Nov. 18 certainly reflected that, as he stressed, “Despite challenges, things are better and better in Israel. In 69 years, it’s never been a better time to raise a family in Israel. I hope and pray even better days are ahead for the people of Israel and the region.”
Despite spending time discussing the ills of the Middle East, the threats against Israel from each of its neighbours and the challenges it faces, Hoffman told his audience that “helping Israel is EASY – ‘education’ (of others about Israel’s strengths), ‘advocacy’ (for Israel), ‘solidarity’ (of everyone) for Israel and ‘your money.’”
With a smile, he said the latter would help the Jewish National Fund to continue its good work in Israel. JNF is supporting his cross-Canada speaking tour.
Hoffman had been in Calgary and Edmonton prior to Halifax, and was visiting Mount Allison University in Sackville and Moncton, N.B. after Halifax, and then speaking in London, Hamilton, Waterloo and Ottawa, Ont. He had attended the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in Washington, D.C., plus he had engagements in Tucson, Ariz., Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.
When answering audience questions, the Chicago-raised Hoffman, who moved to Israel 17 years ago, said new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “will have to change some policies to be taken seriously by Israel and the world. Unfortunately, he supported the Iran nuclear deal, for example.”
Hoffman said Canada mattered under former prime minister Stephen Harper.
“He strongly backed Israel. His pro-Israel voice counted in G8 voting. Now Canada is like every other country. Trudeau is taking selfies in Europe. He’ll be on Facebook, and that’s nice, but Israel won’t listen to him.”
He talked of the concern of continued attacks on Israeli citizens. With humour, he reflected on removing his kippah on the street in Jerusalem, “my city,” as a result of the recent wave of stabbings.
His wife joked with him. “She said to me, ‘There’s no point [removing it]. You look so Jewish, next time, take off your nose.’”
When referring to the threat from ISIS, Hoffman said ISIS controls land 20 times the size of Israel.
“Israel’s land was acquired and embellished by (JNF) metal boxes. ISIS acquired its land by another kind of metal.”
His remarks covered the threat of Hezbollah – “They have 120,000 rockets ready and aimed at Israel, probably not to be used in the near future, but 30 times what Hamas used in its most recent rocket attacks” – as well as the use of distraction by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to retain control of his people in Gaza – “The Temple Mount is in danger; the Jews are contaminating Temple Mount with their feet” – and the many chances Abbas had to make peace with Israel in the last several years but did not.
“We will continue to thrive. We will succeed economically and continue to build a beautiful country, with the help of JNF, and we will see Muhammad and Menachem playing together in playgrounds built by JNF.”
He would not commit when asked which U.S. presidential candidate would be best for Israel –“They’re all saying the right things,” he said – but joked, “I’d vote for Harper for president of the United States.”
Hoffman also praised those keeping anti-Israeli journalists on their toes by writing letters to the editor, making fun of them on Facebook, and trying to change their outlook.