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Israel's Ambassador to Canada Nimrod Barkan in Winnipeg At Jewish Federation Breakfast Meeting: Tacit Has Tacit Strategic Alliance With Some Arab States

by Rhonda Spivak, Sept 9, 2017

Israel’s ambassador to Canada, Nimrod Barkan, told a gathering of  politicians , and professional and lay leadership of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg at a breakfast meeting that there is a "tacit strategic alliance" between Israel. Saudia Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt, whose common threat is Iran and also terrorism. "The relationship between Turkey and Israel has been mended," he noted, albeit they are not the best of friends.
The politicians present were all five Manitoba Conservative MP's, a generous handful of  Conservative MLA's including Ministers Ron Schuler and Scott Fielding , one independent (MLA Steven Fletcher) and Liberal MLA John Gerrard. Murray Palay, CFHU National president and Lori Binder, CEO and head of School for Gray academy were also present. 
"The development of gas rings [in the Meditteranean] has led to [Israeli] cooperation with Greece and Turkey," and Israel is building relations with India, China and Japan and is improving relations with Vietnam, " Barkan noted. He added that Israeli high tech is the reason these countries are interested in Israel.
Barkan also  explained that  Russia's Putin has good relations with the Jewish community and that it is important for Israel to be on good terms with Putin if possible. "Russia has been less problematic with the sanctions agreement against Iran than Turkey," he noted.  Since the United States has "withdrawn from Syria " (aside from the fight against ISIS) "we need to take to someone."
Barkan explained "We intercepted equipment from Iran to Hezbollah. The Russians made this possible."
Barkanwhose mother’s entire family was exterminated in Lithuania, was asked about Canada's relations with Iran, by Conservative MP Candace Bergman. Barkan answered that Israel has outlined to its Canadian colleagues that Iran has attempted to destabilize Saudia Arabia and that Canada understands this. Although Prime Minister Trudeau campaigned on a platform of re-opening Canada's Embassy in Iran and resuming trade with Iran, ( which was closed off under the former Harper government), Barkan made it clear that  "no decision has been made by Canada yet" regarding re-opening the embassy or resumption of trade.
Barkan, whose over forty year distinguished career has included diplomatic postings in Egypt, the United States and France, as well as high level positions in Israel with the Foreign Ministry, also spoke about Canada's positoning vis a vis Israel and the  the United Nations. He noted that  former Prime Minister Harper "changed the Canadian voting pattern at UN agencies " but "this change has been perpetuated by the Liberal government"
Minister Ron Schuler  spoke at the meeting indicating that the Pallister government are strong supporters of Israel and that Pallister "is a student of Stephen Harper" in expressing unwavering support of Israel, and her people's right to defend themselves.
In answer to a question from MLA Jon Gerrard, Barkan also spoke about water issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said that Gaza relies on an aquifer for its water but that the aquifer has been contaminated and soon will not be fresh water in Gaza . He added that there is raw sewage flowing from Gaza to Israel.    "We have to re-build Gaza's infrastructure not only because of being good neighbors but because it affects us. He spoke of the fact that Israel should build desalination plats in Gaza, and noted  "We're working to answer Gaza's electricity problems."
In response to a question about Israel's Arab population, Barkan noted that "40% of all pharmacists in Israel are Arab," and that one of the things that has affected standard of living is that for 
years the cultural norm has been that  Arab women have not worked, but this us changing.  
In response to questions about medical cooperation between israel and Canada in the area of Stem cell research and other areas,Barkan said he anticipated there would be more and more co-operation between Israel and canada, and that more and more Israeli doctors would come to do stints in Canada. He noted that Israelis  has been involved in efforts to prevent hacking of patients' medical files in cyber warfare.
Barkan was introduced by Adam Levene President of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, and thanked by Laurel Malkin, incoming Federation President . 
Barkan’s diplomatic experience   includes stints being consul in Philadelphia from 1982 to 1985 and political consul at Israel’s embassy in Cairo from 1985 to 1987, where he survived two terrorist attacks. In Washington he was as minister of public affairs responsible for the operations of all of Israel’s consulates in the United States from 1992 to 1995. He was  consul general in San Francisco from 1995 to 1997 and in Paris from 2010 to 2014 as ambassador to UNESCO and the Council of Europe.He headed the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Policy Research Centre in 2006.
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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.