Monday, February 6, 2012

Israel and Canada

It is to wonder who advises Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. A recent report in the New York Times and a column in the Toronto Star by Rabbi Dow Marmur dealt in painful detail with the looming conflict in Israel between ultra-Orthodox Chabad Jews and the rest of the nation. During my last visit to Israel, our guide spoke of civil war.

"The co-existence between the two is breaking down," said the president of the Israeli Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem research organization. "It is an extreme danger."

This week, like a blind elephant, Baird tromped into this simmering dispute, trumpeting Canada's friendship with Israel. According to reports, his visit was Chabad oriented.

The Star reported, "[M]any in the secular to mildly religious crowds who met with Mr. Baird were distinctly uncomfortable at the notion of a Chabad rabbi in their midst." Baird had actually brought the rabbi with him from Ottawa where, as Chabad public affairs director, he spends much time on Parliament Hill.

While maintaining friendship, Canada must remain aloof from internal Israeli matters. The aborted visit of Charles de Gaulle during our Centennial should have taught our politicians that lesson.

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