Canada’s Foreign Minister is staunchly pro-Israel

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By Rabbi Dow Marmur

Rabbi Dow Marmur

JERUSALEM–The staunchly pro-Israel statements that Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made during his recent visit to Israel is a wholesome reminder that the Jewish state has many friends in the world and that such friendship at its best doesn’t have ulterior motives but is founded on the new understanding for, and admiration of, the Jewish people. We’re not the pariahs we once were.

Baird doesn’t speak just for himself. Not only is Canada’s Prime Minister of the same opinion but so is, according to a just published authoritative poll, about half of the country’s population. Nor are such sympathies confined to the ruling Conservative party. I know many non-Jewish members of other political parties who oppose this government yet are friends of the Jewish people and, even if their approach is different, tacit supporters of Israel.

What’s true of Canada is, with a much higher impact, true of the United States. It’s well reflected in the debates around the primaries that seek to identify the Republican candidate in the November presidential election. It’s also there in the statements by the Democrat President Obama and, most important, in the actions of his administration.

Because of our painful history as victims of anti-Semitism we tend to be fixated on the current anti-Israel pronouncements by mainly European politicians, some of which are even laced with anti-Jewish over-and-undertones. They must be opposed with fortitude and determination, yet we must not be so demoralized that we forget, as I never tire of reminding people, that Jews have never had it as good as we’re having it now.

Though we’ve every reason to continue to be wary and cautious in the light of the many anti-Jewish incidents in today’s world, we must at no time fail to celebrate the high esteem in which Jews and what they represent are being held in many countries on several continents and in a variety of contexts. For us Jews to adopt a siege mentality would be very wrong and disastrously counterproductive.

A welcome reminder of  it is an article by Daniel Johnson in the February 2 edition of the electronic Jewish Ideas Daily. He’s the son of Paul Johnson whose book A History of the Jews is arguably the best one-volume account of its kind that has ever been written. The telling title of the son’s article is, “Hear, O Friends of Israel.” The Johnsons aren’t Jewish.

The younger Johnson quotes this conclusion from his father’s book: “Jewish history teaches, if anything can, that there is a purpose to human existence and that we are not just born to live and to die like beasts. In continuing to give meaning to creation, the Jews will take comfort from the injunction, thrice repeated, in the Book of Joshua: ‘Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.’”     

John Baird and his colleagues appear to be holding similar views. Unlike some evangelicals with missionary ambitions, they seem to be realists who believe that principles should come before expediency. Even those who may disagree with their overall political stance have reason to salute them. A growing number of Canadian Jews are doing precisely that. Baird’s statements inIsrael will give them further encouragement.

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Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.  He now divides his time between Canada and Israel and may be contacted at [email protected]

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