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Mel Lazareck,President of JNF Maniotba-Saskatchewan Region presents Israeli Consul General Amir Gissin with plaque showing 18 trees have been planted in his honour. photo by Erez Rotem, JNF-KKL Emissarry

Amir Gissin at High Holidays Luncheon at Fort Gary by Erez Rotem, JNF-KKL Emissary



By Rhonda Spivak, September 5, 2010

“I’m optimistic because probably from here things can only get better,” Israel’s Consul General from Toronto Amir Gissen said of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians while in Winnipeg last week.

Gissin was the featured speaker for some 40 invited attendees including Rabbis and synagogue leaders at a High Holiday Appeal luncheon at the Fort Garry Hotel on Thursday, September 2, 2010 hosted by The Jewish National Fund and The State of Israel Bonds.

Gissin noted that the many failed peace negotiations over the years have made Israelis “skeptical” and “disillusioned” after “decades of disappointment.”

“Most Israelis don’t believe that the Palestinians are either able or willing to make peace….To be honest, there’s a feeling that the sides are actually being forced to attend,” he said.

He added that there is a perception that both sides are attending because “no one wants to be blamed “for the failure of the talks.”  He also noted that recent Hamas terror attacks have been an attempt to derail the talks.

“The problem is not with those who sit in the room, but those who are not in the room—Iran, Gaza, and Syria.”

“I don’t know what will happen in the negotiations but I know we need hope,” he said.

Gissin also referred to the conflict with the Palestinians as a “small problem” when compared with “the existential problem” posed by Iran.

“If you have a small problem that you can’t solve, sometimes the only way to solve it is to have a bigger problem. It makes you be able to solve the smaller problem,” he said.

While Gissin said, “We all hope that we’ll achieve the prevention of a nuclear Iran by peaceful means,” he stressed that a nuclear Iran would be “unacceptable.”

He said that, “We know that we [Israelis] will pay the price,” of having to take action to stop a nuclear Iran.

Gissin also spoke of the ongoing global campaign to delegitimize Israel and isolate it through the movement to boycott it, and events such as Israel Apartheid Week.

He said that to respond to this campaign it is necessary for Israel and Jewish communities in Canada to reach out and create partnerships and strategic alliances with other ethnic groups.

“What do you do when someone is trying to single you out? You make friends,” Gissin said.

He noted that, “This is something that Winnipeg (as a small Jewish community) knows and understands well,” and that “I appreciate the fact that you have been able to make contact with other communities, and have entered into valuable partnerships.”

The Jewish National Fund, for example, has been at the forefront of forming partnerships and co-operation with the Government of Manitoba in the areas of water technology and resources as well as expertise in agriculture. 

Prior to Gissin’s remarks, Ariel Karabelnicoff, Executive Director of  State of Israel Bonds spoke of the importance of directly invresting in Israel through the purchase of Israel Bonds. As he told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, buying Israel Bonds is " a sound competitive investment” and any investor who believes in the future of Israel and wants to be part of it could hold 10% of their portfolio in Israel Bonds.”

 He noted that Israel Bonds have a perfect record of repayment , and are 100% eligible for self-directed RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs and RESPs. As he said, “Purchase of an Israel bond helps build the backbone of a first rate infrastructure—roads, sea, ports, commuter rail and tunnels, water desalination plants, living arteries of a thriving and resilient country. Your Israel Bond investment helps build a country of incredible hi-tech and medical innovations that benefit the entire world.”

“Even today, a part every major infrastructure project in Israel  is financed through State of Israel Bonds and this  keeps Israel’s economy strong,” he said.
of Israel Bonds and this  keeps Israel’s economy strong,” he said.

Mel Lazareck, president of the JNF for Manitoba-and Saskatchewan noted that for the High Holiday Appeal, JNF was raising funds to prune, clean, and replant  over 80,000 trees destroyed this summer In Israel by forest fires.

 “Some of the fires were started naturally by the heat [and extreme weather conditions]but others were the result of what  is suspected arson, what is termed ‘Eco-terrorism’, he said.
Lazareck emphasized that the one thing in life that is “irreplaceable is time” and even when you incur the significant cost of replanting the trees, "it takes 40-60 years before those trees grow and constitute a forest," complete with  all plant an animal life.
With the recent forest fires, “Israel has lost between 40-60 years of time” --the  time it takes for those trees to grow and constitute a forest, “ he said.
At the closing of the luncheon, Lazareck indicated to Gissin that “18 trees had been planted in a JNF forest [ by JNF and Israel Bonds] in his honour.”

At the luncheon, Gissin also noted that during his trip to Winnipeg he had met with Premier Selinger, who will be visiting Israel in October as part of a Mission lead by Lazareck with the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, during which the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be performing in Israel and Jordan.

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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.