As Israel marks the 70th year of her independence, it is an opportune time for us to reflect on the relationship between Canada and Israel. Our friendship is rooted in our common civilization and its values, and in the kinship shared by nearly 350, 000 Canadians of Jewish heritage and faith.

The people of Israel should be immensely proud of what they have accomplished in seven decades. Rarely has so much been achieved by any society in so short a span of history.
Emerging from the horrors of the Holocaust, Israel has gone from desert to oasis to a leading 21st-century economy, and today stands as a bastion of freedom and democracy in the most troubled part of the world. This has been a difficult and dangerous journey but, against all the odds and in the face of perpetual slander and attack, Israel has succeeded and flourished.

The Jewish State’s friends understand that no people have earned their freedom, peace and security through more trials and tribulations than Israel’s. It is all the more admirable that Israel like Canada, has anchored itself in the ideals of justice, human rights and the rule of law.

These are the foundational values of our societies and the best guarantees of political stability and economic prosperity for humanity.

These values are today under threat. And all too often, those threats begin with those who hate the Jewish people. In our era, that age-old bigotry has been adapted to new language to make it more acceptable in sophisticated society. It attacks the Jewish people by attacking the only Jewish state, seeking to strip her of her right to self-defense, and calling for boycott, sanction and divestiture.

Its proponents pretend otherwise, but how else, other than anti-Semitism, are we to explain Israel’s selective condemnation, while the violence and oppression of its enemies is systematically ignored or excused?

Support for Israel, then, is rooted in both moral and strategic imperatives. During my time in office, Canada affirmed an unwavering commitment to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State. And we refused to single out our staunchest regional ally for discriminatory censure. Israel need not attain perfection to expect these things of her true friends.

As we have since 1948, Canadians also hope for the establishment of a free, democratic and secure Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and harmony.

When the Palestinians have fully and finally accepted the permanent presence of the Jewish State, we are confident that day will quickly come to pass.

Meanwhile, in 2018, it is the time to re-tell the inspiring story of Israel – of how a decimated and suffering people rallied to create one of the most vibrant, optimistic, forward-looking nations the world has ever known. As Canadians, we are proud that Israelis are our friends, upholding the values and principles that also define our national life.

Canadians join with Israelis, and Jews around the world, in celebrating Israel’s creation, its anniversary, and its future successes.

The author served as Canada’s 22nd prime minister.

Source: The Jerusalem Post