History – ancient, medieval, modern and the spaces in between – has taught the Jewish People to be wary.
Alas, in every generation, someone or some group has sought to do us harm. Indeed just last month, the current avatar of Jew-harmers, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, again frothed his foamy hatred of Israel and the Jewish People from the rostrum of the UN General Assembly. The constant Jewish concern, if not also obsession, for Israel’s security is therefore quite understandable.
But sometimes in our overall wariness and worry for the future, we neglect to take proper note of the fact that Israel has many friends in the world, some of whom are very close at hand. It is especially important that we set aside a moment to note these friends and friendships well.
For example, as reported in The CJN last week, Quebec has just concluded an agreement with Israel that will promote trade, investment and collaboration in sectors such as biotechnology, aerospace and the environment. This new agreement complements an existing agreement between the two jurisdictions in the areas of culture, education and science.
Economic Development Minister Raymond Bachand led some 40 Quebec businesspeople on a four-day mission to the Jewish state last month. He was clearly impressed and even, it seems, inspired by what he saw. “Israel and Quebec maintain solid ties that are based on a common vision and and objectives… Quebec must not only maintain, but also increase, its relations and collaboration with this country whose expertise is diverse and amazing,” Bachand said.
The minister insisted upon visiting Yad Vashem. “It was very important for me to go to Yad Vashem to meditate in this place and to show the full sympathy of the Quebec people for this great tragedy.” Could there be a more poignant, more cutting refutation of the ignorant fulminations of the Iranian president?
In the same vein, as also reported in last week’s CJN, the Manitoba-Israel Shared Values Roundtable sponsored a celebratory concert last month, in honour of Israel’s 60th anniversary. More than 900 people attended. The group is the brainchild of Manitoba’s Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick and the late Harold Buchwald. Melnick has been to Israel several times. “Our group recognizes that the people of Manitoba and Israel share many important values, such as belief in a democratic system of government, respect for freedom of speech and human rights, and commitments to public health care, public child care and education,” Melnick said.
It is heartening to note that many Canadian public figures openly acknowledge and laud the deeply held, democratic and life-affirming values that Canada shares with Israel. As long as they do, it is equally heartening to note, Israel will not ever be alone.