Canadian warmth, Israeli chutzpah

Amid the warm ties between Israel and Canada, an internal Israeli conflict has taken place that has been kept secret until now.

Canadian flag at Parliament in Ottawa 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Canadian flag at Parliament in Ottawa 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One bright spot in the recent dark days arrived via Canada. The brave northern state broke relations with Iran, pure and simple, without blinking an eye, and proved that even in the West people can every now and then recognize reality.
Relations between Canada and Israel have never been better, and the mutual esteem, cooperation (even security) is great. We can only hope that the Canadian move will lead to other countries following suit (though I wouldn’t hold my breath).
Amid the warm ties between Israel and Canada, an internal Israeli conflict has taken place that has been kept secret until now.
The Israeli military attaché in the US (now returning to Israel after two years and 10 months), Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, traveled last year to Ottawa for a working meeting.
Shamni was scheduled to meet with all the top Canadian security figures.
First, though, Shamni met with Israeli Ambassador to Canada Miriam Ziv. During the meeting, Ziv expressed her wish for an independent military attaché to Canada, who would be based in Ottawa, in light of closer relations and rapprochement between the two countries.
Shamni objected. We work really well in Washington, he said, we have no problems in our relationship; to bring a military attaché in uniform, with family, etc., to Canada would be a waste.
The conversation became unpleasant as both Ziv and Shamni argued. At one point, Shamni got so livid that he got up and left the room.
The meetings with the Canadians were held later the same day, and everything went well.
The highlight was supposed to occur in the evening, when a dinner party at the ambassador’s house was set to honor Shamni in the presence of all the top Canadian security figures; the chief of staff, the head of intelligence, the head of the National Security Council, etc.
Shamni announced to Ziv that he wouldn’t be coming to the dinner, which was coordinated months in advance with all the tight schedules of all the respected participants. The ambassador tried to reason with him – everyone was invited, all had confirmed their arrival, this is a very important event, but Shamni insisted.
I cannot work with you after how you spoke to me, he said.
Because the dinner is taking place in your house, I’m not going to set foot there, he continued, and he unceremoniously left and flew back to Washington.
The ambassador had to call and apologize. The attaché was urgently called back to Washington, Ziv explained to the Canadian chief of staff’s office and other offices. The dinner was canceled.
Those who live in North America know that a cancellation of this type of meal, with just a few hours notice, is considered rude. Only a medical emergency or a war justifies such a move. But for Shamni, an IDF major-general representing the State of Israel in the US, it did not matter. He just didn’t come. Ambassador Ziv complained about the incident to all relevant parties in Israel. It turns out that Shamni complained too. The question is, whom did the Canadians complain to? The IDF Spokesman’s reaction was: “Major- General Shamni is currently completing a successful and busy tenure in Washington, during which he preserved and improved the professional and close work relationship with the Canadian security agencies. The military attaché is in constant professional contact, in a cooperative atmosphere and with promotion of projects, with the Canadian armed forces, and all their branches.”
By the way, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz is aware of that incident and on his visit to Canada last March, he spoke of it, separately, with the attaché and the ambassador.
Associates of Shamni confirm the information written here, but claim that no damage was caused to the bilateral relationship; the Canadians do not know, even now, that the dinner was canceled because of ego conflicts.
The associates added that the ambassador’s behavior toward Shamni was crude and blunt, she crossed all red lines while offending him, which is actually insulting the defense system as a whole, and with that, Shamni was not ready to continue to work with her.
I think that Shamni, a decorated veteran who has built solid credentials in the IDF, missed the point. First, I tried to verify the version of his associates, that the ambassador yelled at him and insulted him, but this version was not supported by any other source.
Second, even if was true, what’s the connection? Why should the Canadian defense establishment pay for a bad working relationship in the Israeli ranks? Shamni does not represent himself in the US, nor his wife, but the State of Israel and its security interests.
He should have swallowed the insult, come to the dinner, and then complained against Ziv as much as he pleased. Something in the major-general’s judgment was wrong.
According to the information that’s flowing from Washington and Ottawa, stated even by the military attaché office itself, Shamni’s pride got a little too swollen.Translated by Moria Dashevsky