No change in Canada’s Israel policy, government says
August 14, 2012 | Joanne Hill - Correspondent
At a meeting earlier this year, the issue of Canada-Israel relations was discussed. In photo, Frank Dimant (right), CEO, B’nai Brith Canada engages Prime Minister Stephen Harper as B’nai Brith National President Eric Bissell looks on.
TORONTO – News of a meeting between the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abu Mazen caused consternation in Canada’s grassroots Jewish community that the government was preparing to veer from its principled policy towards Israel.
Reports suggested the meeting was held to explore new ways for the Canadian government to engage in negotiations between Israel and the PA.
The June 24 meeting in Ramallah was headed by the highly respected community leader David Koschitzky. Also in attendance were CIJA’s CEO Shimon Fogel and Director of Development J.J. Schneiderman. Schneiderman is a former policy adviser to Paul Martin and was the government’s point man at Foreign Affairs before the Conservative’s electoral victory. At that time, the government’s policy was one of an “honest broker,” which included voting in favour of several anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.
Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada, said his organization fully respects CIJA’s right to determine its own policy on behalf of the UJA Federation and do outreach as it deems fit. B’nai Brith responded to numerous individuals who contacted the organization to express fear that the meeting indicated Canada might be going backwards in its approach to Israel, he explained.
“We have now ascertained through due diligence that the Canadian government does not want to return to the days of being an ‘honest broker’ and will continue being an ally of the only democracy in the Middle East,” said Dimant. “We can assure community members the government will stay the course at this crucial time as the ‘Arab Spring’ dramatically alters the region and raises Israel’s security concerns. We have been told in no uncertain terms that the Harper government will continue its principled approach to the Middle East situation.”
Michael Mostyn, chair, Government Relations Committee, B’nai Brith Canada added, “We’ve confirmed with senior government sources in various ministries, as well as with senior government ministers, that Canada will be continuing the strong relationship with Israel that has blossomed under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.”