Grapevine: Our Canadian friend

Canadian Minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism receives honorary doctorate from University of Haifa.

Canada (photo credit: Wikicommons)
(photo credit: Wikicommons)
CANADIAN MINISTER of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney received an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa in recognition of his steadfast position against anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance, for his solidarity and friendship with the State of Israel and his condemnation of Israel Apartheid Week. The honor was presented at the Canadian Friends of Haifa University Mount Carmel Tribute Dinner in Toronto at the beginning of this week.
Among the guests at the dinner was Israel’s Ambassador to Canada Miriam Ziv.
Proceeds from the event will establish The Jason Kenney Holocaust Education Fund for Canadian and International Students at the University of Haifa.
Kenney has long been vocal in his support of Israel, declaring that “the bonds between Canada and Israel continue to flourish and are strengthened by our shared values: freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law.” He has demonstrated a leadership role in combating all forms of anti-Semitism. In 2009, under his leadership, Canada gained full membership in the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF).
As minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism since 2008, Kenney has spearheaded a large-scale program to better align immigration with Canada’s economic needs; reduce long-standing backlogs; ensure that newcomers integrate successfully; and strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship. Kenney has said that his most rewarding work as a parliamentarian has been serving as chair of the House Subcommittee on International Human Rights, where he highlighted the persecution of vulnerable religious minorities and other victims of human rights abuses.
HERZLIYA MAYOR Yael German, who may soon become a national legislator instead of a head of local government, was among the many well-known figures who attended the launch of the latest volume in the series on “Law and the Individual,” published under the auspices of the Radzyner School of Law at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, of which Rubinstein is a member of the senior staff.
An Israel Prize laureate and former education minister, Prof. Amnon Rubinstein specializes in constitutional law, education and human rights. The most recent volume in the series deals with law and business.
Among the many familiar personalities at the launch were IDC president and founder Prof. Uriel Reichman; Justice Minister Prof. Yaakov Neeman; former mayor of Tel Aviv Shlomo Lahat and his wife, Ziva; popular writer Yochi Brandeis; former interior minister Avraham Poraz; former Supreme Court president and vice president Justices Meir Shamgar and Mishael Cheshin; Supreme Court President Justice Asher Grunis; Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger; former justice minister Prof. Daniel Friedmann; Dr. Shimshon Shoshani, former director-general of the Education Ministry; and several academics from the IDC faculty.
Neeman, in a moment of candor, stated that even though he is a minister, he is not an MK and has never voted for the same party in two consecutive elections – because he was always disappointed in the party for which he had voted the previous time. Neeman was one of several speakers who heaped praise on Rubinstein, who was the last on the list and admitted to being somewhat embarrassed by so many laudatory remarks, even though it was music to his ears to hear them.
ACCORDING TO a Ma’ariv report, Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso doesn’t give a fig for the sensitivities of Arab members of his council or those of the city’s Arab residents. Gapso, who has an overdeveloped streak of patriotism, has placed outsize Israeli flags at the entrance to the city, which is close to a number of Arab villages. The flags are so large that it is impossible for villagers in the surrounding area not to see them.
Arab council members have contended that the flags have been placed as an act of provocation, and that Gapso puts flags everywhere. They said that if the flags are small, as is the case in government and municipal offices around the country, they are fine with that because it is the norm; but huge, in-your-face flags are something else.
Gapso has threatened to put up more such flags, which will cause further aggravation to Upper Nazareth’s Arab population, which amounts to some 17 percent of the approximately 40,000 residents.
A press release put out by city hall in relation to the flags stated that the national flag is an expression of all the positive values exemplified by love of Israel, love of the homeland, a feeling of belonging and Israeli identity. “Furthermore,” the press release continued, “in the United States and many other countries around the world, the national flag is an intrinsic part of the scenery and doesn’t appear only on Independence Day. What’s good enough for America should be good enough for us. It’s time to strengthen national patriotism and not to relate to everything with cynicism,” the press release concluded.
There have been many accusations of racism against Gapso in the past. His policies are not only said to be directed against Arabs but also against Christians, and he has refused to allow Christmas trees to be put up in Upper Nazareth, regardless of the strong Christian connection with Nazareth as a whole.