Thank-you, Canada

On a recent visit, Canadian Minister for External Affairs John Baird emphasized his country’s ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ support for Israel.

John Baird at Kfar Chabad 521 (photo credit: Atara Beck )
John Baird at Kfar Chabad 521
(photo credit: Atara Beck )
Canadian Minister for External Affairs John Baird characterizes his recent trip to Ramallah as “a good experience.”
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post by phone from Ben-Gurion Airport last week, where he was waiting to board a plane for China, he said he had been to the West Bank before, but never to Ramallah.
“There was construction, skyscrapers, lots of vitality,” he said. “I didn’t expect to see that.”
He also spent an afternoon at Kfar Chabad near Tel Aviv for an event in memory of terror victims, organized by the Chabad Terror Victims Project. This outing, too, was a highlight of the weeklong trip, he said.
According to Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn, director of public affairs for the Canadian Federation of Chabad-Lubavitch, this was the first time a senior Canadian government minister had visited “a religious village in Israel to participate in a reception with terror victims that are serviced by Chabad in Israel.”
Spokespeople from three families gave detailed, heart-breaking accounts of their losses and the permanent impact those losses had on the families.
At Kfar Chabad, Baird said, he met with a number of victims of terrorism.
“It’s one thing when you see statistics and another thing when you see the families.”
He spoke about his grandfather, who had fought in the Canadian armed forces for many years against communism and fascism and with whom the Canadian politician had a close relationship.
Communism and fascism were “the big struggles of his generation,” Baird declared, adding that “the big struggle of our generation is terrorism.”
As he had done at the Herzliya Conference, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority and other venues during his visit, Baird stated unequivocally that Canada would continue to support Israel in its war against terror. He reiterated widely publicized statements that Canada would stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Israel and that his country was the best friend of the Jewish state.
He also condemned the nations of the world that engaged in what he termed “moral relativism.” Comparing a terrorist organization like Hamas to a democracy like Israel “is black and white, and I know whose side I’m on,” he told the Kfar Chabad gathering, which included Canadian Ambassador Paul Hunt and Miriam Ziv, Israel’s ambassador in Ottawa.
Canada will not associate with Hamas, Baird asserted.
In Ramallah, he and Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty met with Palestinian leaders to discuss ongoing financial assistance to support the Palestinian Authority’s Reform and Development Plan and to help the PA create infrastructure for a viable Palestinian state.
As reported in several media, Baird urged PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to give up his unilateral bid for statehood at the UN, to recognize Israel as the Jewish state and to negotiate directly with Israel.
“I found President Abbas to be very gracious, very up-front, very honest,” he said. “Obviously, we had differences of opinion, but it was a very positive meeting. [Prime Minister Salam] Fayyad is a very impressive guy, and he can take a lot of credit” for economic growth in the PA territories.
Regarding issues such as the PA’s honoring terrorists, and anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian media, Baird said, “There are challenging issues that have been going on for many years. If there was an easy solution, it would have been found a long time ago. I agree that we should stop the negotiations about the negotiations. The way to achieve a solution is to go back to the table with no preconditions.
“Obviously Canada will do whatever it can to assist.”