Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Harper's visit

Canadian PM Stephen Harper is visiting Israel for the first time amid a positive flowering of mutual admiration between Israel and Canada. PM Netanyahu welcomed Harper at BG Airport and in Jerusalem with a flourish of trumpets and pomp and both PMs spoke appreciatively of each other. In his speech at the Knesset Harper said "through fire and water, Canada will stand with you." His support was unconditional, unlike that of other supposed allies of Israel.

However, this does not mean that Canada is not pro-active in relation to the Palestinians. Harper visited Bethlehem and Ramallah and announced a m$35 grant to the Palestine Authority to help it pay its bills. He like many others believes in a two-state solution as a fair and equitable way to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict. But, he supports Israel's rights in the negotiations and voted against the PA's attempt to obtain recognititon for its sovereignty unilaterally at the UN. Any Palestine state must come about only through negotiations with Israel. Harper spoke out against attempts by many to delegitimize Israel and stated that all countries in the world must accept Israel as the Jewish State without qualification.

It is not generally known that Canada is the second largest country in the world, after Russia and before China and the USA. But, it's true that large portions of it are too cold or desolate for human habitation. The Mackenzie River Valley in north west Canada is as large as Europe, but is hardly populated. I asked a friend of mine from Canada why and he told me that he spent a summer there, canoeing up the Mackenzie River (over 1,000 ml long), and he had to wear netting all the time, otherwise he would be eaten alive by midges, zillions of them. So Israel and Canada are very different in terms of size and density of population, but in other respects are quite similar. They share the commitment to a democratic system, both are immigrant populations and there are many Canadian Jews who have made aliyah to Israel. They turned out in force to welcome Harper and all had a good time, eh!


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