Visiting Canadian FM John Baird says Israel has no better friend than Ottawa.
Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said during a warm address at the opening of the 12th-annual Herzliya Conference on Monday night.
Ottawa stood with Israel because it was a Canadian tradition “to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is popular, convenient or expedient,” Baird said.
The Canadian government supported Israel so strongly, he said, because it embodied the values Canada held dear and respects, and because it was “a beacon of light in a region that craves freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
Slamming the “constant barrage of rhetorical demonization, double standards and delegitimization” of Israel, Baird characterized this as the new anti-Semitism.
“Harnessing disparate anti- Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so,” he said. “We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is.”
Joining the anti-Israel sentiment would be the “easy thing to do” and it would be much simpler to just “pretend that engaging in anti- Israeli rhetoric is being somehow even-handed,” Baird said. But Canada would not “go along to get along,” and would not remain silent while “the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory or people.”
He likened terrorism to fascism and communism, and cautioned against appeasing it. Quoting Winston Churchill, he said “an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
Turning to the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, Baird made clear that Canada supported a two-state solution “that is negotiated by the two parties in good faith and without preconditions.”
Palestinians and Israelis “deserve free states of their own. They deserve to live in peace, security and human dignity,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Baird met with President Shimon Peres. At the start of the meeting, the president said “Israel is very lucky to have your friendship, which we appreciate very much.”
Baird told Peres, “You have no better friend in the world than Canada, no stronger ally who will stand up [for you]. We won’t stand behind you; we will stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel.”
The two leaders discussed bilateral cooperation in the field of science and advanced technologies.
“Israel is currently cooperating in these fields with [the provinces of] Ontario and Nova Scotia, but we are interested in broadening this cooperation to a federal level,” Baird said.
Peres replied, “There is much potential to enhance our collaboration in the fields of science and technology. Israel and Canada complete each other; Israel is small and lacks in natural resources whereas Canada is spacious and has been blessed with many of them. Our two countries have much to benefit from collaborating in those areas.”