The Canada-Israel bilateral relationship continues to flourish and expand, as it has under the leadership of successive Prime Ministers since the Jewish state was established in 1948. Canada and Israel have developed a long list of formal and informal ties, advancing mutual interests and common objectives. This has led to frequent consultation and partnership on global issues based on shared values of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The Canada-Israel friendship continues to manifest itself in burgeoning economic, scientific, medical, cultural, political, defence, juridical, agricultural and trade ties between the two countries. There are also a number of sub-national agreements between Israel and certain provinces, including Manitoba and Ontario, and leading academic institutions in both countries.
One of the underlying strengths of the Canada-Israel bilateral relationship lies in extensive people-to-people ties. Historically, the Canadian Jewish community, which stands at 380,000 people today, has acted as an important bridge between Canada and Israel. Indeed, Israel as a concept and even a “spiritual” homeland has had an increasingly important impact in shaping the identity of Canadian Jews over the last 63 years. Proud of Israel’s accomplishments over these six decades, Canadian Jews celebrate the shared values that bind the sister democracies.
The community’s links to Israel pre-date the rebirth of the State of Israel and the formal establishment of diplomatic relations with Canada. Following the First Zionist Congress in 1897, Zionist groups sprang up in every major centre of Jewish life in Canada. In 1899, a national organization of these groups was established called the Federation of Canadian Zionist Societies. In the following years, these societies took root and flourished. One of the principal fundraising agencies was the Jewish National Fund – established by Theodore Herzl in 1901 with the goal of purchasing land in British-Mandate Palestine and facilitating its re-forestation. Other early organizations included Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization), which served as an umbrella organization for a variety of women’s groups devoted to helping their sisters living under the British Mandate.
Today, the links between Canadian Jewry and Israel are multifaceted and diverse. Virtually every institution of note in Israel – religious, educational, medical, and social – has an association or “friends of” branch in Canada that not only fundraises but also facilitates partnering initiatives with similar Canadian institutions. Canadian Jews have also played a central role in expanding the trade relationship, cultural exchanges and scientific cooperation.
Canada-Israel Bilateral Trade
- Bilateral trade between Canada and Israel: $1.8 billion (2008)
- Canadian top exports to Israel: machinery, paper, newsprint, plastics, wood and aluminum
- Israel’s top exports to Canada: pharmaceutical products, electrical machinery, precious stones and metals, optical equipment, and organic chemicals
Source: Bank of Israel