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Israel Trip 2013 By Kevin Lamoureux, MP Winnipeg North

By Kevin Lamoureux, August 12, 2013

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to be in Israel as a special guest of the Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs and even though it was not the first time I travelled to Israel I found the trip to be of great value. In short it allowed me to be better informed about a nation of people who has survived and prevailed for thousands of years in one form or another.

My initial interest in Israel was based on two things: My understanding of the holocaust and how at an early age in my life I found it difficult to imagine how people could be so inhumane. Secondly Israel was consistently in the news and often the reports involved violence. Years ago I went with my pastor on what was my 1st trip to Israel and like millions before me that trip was based on getting a better understanding of my faith. My experience back than and the enthusiasm of my daughter’s interest in travelling with me led me back two other times since then.

I had no short term intention on going back to Israel but when I was offered to participate in a Parliamentary mission and after confirming my daughter’s interest (which was easy) I decided to go. My expectations of the trip were high as I did not see it as a holiday but rather I wanted to learn more about Middle East politics. I was not disappointed the Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs did a fantastic job in setting an informative agenda that succeeded in giving 9 Canadian MPs a better understanding of Israel and the conflict around it.

Professor Reuven Hazen who is recognized as one of the most able minded people in Israel on the issue of Israeli democracy provided us an excellent perspective on how Israeli’s democratic system works today.  With numerous political parties and how the two larger ones have to work at building bridges to form a majority that would be able to govern. The balance of holding power forces Leaders and parties in most part to cooperate and in many ways work together.

In Ramallah we met with Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian Legislator who received the UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Medal in 2005. She is a very powerful advocate who obviously cares about the future of the Palestinian people in Israel.  She provided insight from a different perspective which was important to have heard.

Israel’s military is truly unique in the world, it is a force that is mobile well equipped, trained and it has the potential for rapid expansion in a matter of days. The core to its success is the general acceptance of the fact that everyone has a responsibility to serve and therefore it is compulsory for all of Israeli youth through conscription (I note there are some exceptions). We toured a base that dealt with their K9 units and snipers but it is obvious that the military is a part of everyone’s life in some fashion and it is visibly present.

Between our guide Avi, former and current Members of the Knesset and so many others that I had the chance to meet with, I believe that the average person living in Israel today does desire peace and would welcome it but at the same time I have a better understanding as to why a peace agreement it not easily achievable.

Dr. Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg was born in Montreal and after listening to her talk about basic economics I kind of wish she was still in Canada, we could use her to head our banking system. Meeting her not only helped me understand Israeli economics but it also highlights the fact that there is a special relationship between Canada and Israel, one that has seen thousands of people call both countries their home, and they understand more than most, the importance of our relationship.

I did stay an extra four days with my daughter so between that and a part of the Parliamentary mission I was able to check out numerous tourist attractions including the Holocaust museum, many Christian sites, old Jerusalem, archaeological sites, the dead sea, Eilat, Aqaba and so much more. From the meetings and unique experiences my expectations were exceeded, a special thank you to all those who assisted me in participating.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.