Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests, Fellow Consuls General, Fellow Israelis, Friends one and all,
חג שמח and welcome to our party!!!!!
Thank you MP Adler for your remarks and the greetings from the Prime Minister. The support of the Government of Canada for Israel is unparalleled, and it is deeply, deeply appreciated.
And thank you Premier Wynne, for those most generous words of friendship and support.
This has been a year when the Canada-Israel relationship and the Canada-Ontario relationship have reached new heights.
Prime Minister Harper's January visit to Israel brought home to people in both countries just how strong the bonds between us are, and the practical takehomes from that visit, including the effort to upgrade our bilateral Free Trade Agreement, are moving forward apace.
At the provincial level, Minister of Economic Development, Eric Hoskins, who is with us here this evening, announced just last week the Province's decision to open an Ontario Economic Interests Office in Israel.
I can assure you, there will not be a better Ontarian dollar spent than the ones you spend on enhancing this province's trade and investment ties with Israel.
The ROI will be higher than any other representative office you have anywhere in the world and the benefits will accrue to Ontarians, Canada and Israel for many years to come, and we will work together with the Province to make sure that's the case.
I also wish to thank all the other elected officials – and candidates - from all levels of government and from all three major parties, who have joined us here this evening.
It is a source of great encouragement to know that we have so many friends and so much support from the leaders of this country across the entire political spectrum.
I'm also grateful for the opportunity publicly to thank:
Our friends and partners across the Jewish community, for their unrivalled passion for Israel and their work with us to help advance the understanding and collaboration between our two countries;
Our many partners and colleagues from all walks of life from across the GTA and beyond, who share our view of the value of our ties and work to enhance them;
And finally, our Consulate team, led by Deputy Consul General Irit Stopper, Consul Gadi Alon and Chief Security Officer Uri Isaak (and their spouses, including mine).
It's a great honor to represent your country abroad, but the diplomat's life is not an easy one and much of the burden is shared by our spouses, so I want to acknowledge them too.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Three separate flag-raising events took place in the GTA today – at Toronto City Hall, Queen's Park and Markham City Hall - in honor of the State of Israel.
The immense support and admiration Israel enjoys in this town is no accident.
Two things make it possible:
Firstly, the fundamentals of who we both are: our shared democratic values, and our belief that the democratic rights and freedoms we enjoy must be cherished and protected.
The second reason for the strong support Israel enjoys here is the willingness of our friends here in Canada to recognize those fundamentals in us – a willingness not always forthcoming, even in other western societies.
This plays out also on the international stage, where Israel continues to enjoy:
- no greater support, than Canada's.
- no better a grasp of the threats, and challenges and dilemmas that face us,
- no better understanding that our strength and security is an interest shared by all peace-loving societies.
For all this we thank you deeply.
And while there are threats and dangers that emanate from the extreme elements of this society, as any other, I can tell you all, that because of who Canada is, and because of who we are, the volume of opportunities for Israel in Canada outnumbers the threats to us by so many orders of magnitude you couldn’t fit them into this hall.
This is a gift, and one we must not squander.
The story of Israel is the story of the triumph of our will over that of our enemies; of our people's ability to imagine a different and better future and then to act upon history and turn that future into reality.
And that is what Israel still represents today: - A compelling story of national achievement against the most ridiculous odds; a beacon of decency which is also one of the engines of progress and prosperity in today's world.
A nation always imagining and translating that inspiration into invention and contributions which enrich humanity as a whole.
A nation that has had to learn war, but teaches its children only peace.
A nation which celebrates life, with a spirit which lifts us, always forward.
Thank you all for honoring us today and for celebrating our wonderful country with us.
Thank you all for your support and solidarity and partnership and goodwill.
And thank you all for joining us in making the story of modern Israel, more inspiring and more mutually rewarding every year.
חג עצמאות שמח!!!