From bottom left to right: Leslie Gales (Chair of JFC-UIA), Karen James (Chair of Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver), Joel Reitman (Vice Chair CIJA Board), Shimon Fogel (CIJA CEO), Jeff Rosenthal (Vice Chair CIJA Board), Barbara Bank (Chair of CIJA Toronto), M.P. Marco Mendocino, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, M.P. Michael Levitt.
In May, CIJA reacted with profound concern to Prime Minister Trudeau’s statement on the Israel-Gaza border clashes. We mobilized nearly 10,000 Canadians to write the PM to express our objections to serious faults in the statement, including its failure to mention Hamas.
Yesterday, CIJA led a delegation of senior leadership of JFC-UIA and Jewish Federations across Canada to meet with the Prime Minister. We directly voiced our concerns and shared the truth about Hamas and its central role in the border violence and humanitarian situation in Gaza. We stressed the importance of unequivocal Canadian support for Israel – a fellow democracy and close ally – when Israelis are under attack, whether from terrorists in Gaza or anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.
The discussion was frank, constructive, and encouraging. The Prime Minister was very receptive and responsive to the issues we raised. He absolutely recognized the destructive role played by Hamas. He expressed full confidence in Israel’s capacity and will to hold its troops to a high ethical standard, rather than be singled out for an inherently biased international investigation. And he reaffirmed Canada’s support for Israel, and committed to be more vigilant in countering anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.
In short, this was a very positive and substantive discussion. The most important sign of progress, of course, is how this shapes Canadian policy moving forward – about which we are cautiously optimistic.
I know many readers have strong opinions about this issue and the Prime Minister’s statement. This is why CIJA called for a meeting with the PM. As a non-partisan organization, we maintain constructive relationships with all parties. This means giving credit where credit is due, as we have when the government worked to expand Canada-Israel free trade and took strong positions against BDS and the Iranian regime. It also means standing up, speaking out, and having challenging – but constructive – conversations when necessary.
Our goal is not just to be a strong voice for Jewish Canadians, but to prompt real, positive improvements in Canada’s policy toward Israel. Yesterday’s meeting was a key step in our continuing efforts to advance this objective.
Shimon Koffler Fogel
CEO, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)
PS: As the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada, one of CIJA’s strengths is our national reach. This ensures the perspectives of Jewish communities throughout the country are represented at the highest levels of government. This meeting was no exception thanks to the contribution of leaders from across Canada who joined us, including CIJA Vice Chairs Joel Reitman and Jeff Rosenthal, Leslie Gales (Chair of JFC-UIA), Karen James (Chair of Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver), and Barbara Bank (Chair of CIJA Toronto).