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PM Stephen Harper
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Benjamin Netanyahu
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By Kane Rooks, November 2, 2014


[Editor's note: Kane Rooks has a Master’s Degree in Counter-terrorism from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, and currently lives in Israel.]


As the  ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has become an immediate threat to Israel by spreading to the Israeli-Syrian border, the Lebanese-Syrian border, and the Iraqi-Jordanian border, the average Israeli is very thankful that Canada has  joined  the US led coalition that is fighting  to stop the spread of the Islamic state.  Israelis welcomed the decision made a few weeks ago by the Canadian House of Commons, which passed a motion to use Canadian CF-18’s on airstrike combat missions in Iraq and in the Middle East for a period of up to six months.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come out in full praise of the Canadian government voting to help fight the Islamic State. Netanyahu has called Harper “(a) clear-eyed leader, principled and moral leader.” Netanyahu has called the Islamic State an enemy that is shared by everyone and has said if ISIL isn’t kept in the Middle East in can spread everywhere: “I’m concerned about what would happen if this danger is NOT confronted because it would grow and grow and grow and this is what we (Israel) fear.”


According to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, “It is imperative that we act with our allies to halt ISIL’s spread in the region and reduce its capacity to launch terrorist attacks outside the region, including against Canada.” Mr. Harper further declared that “If left unchecked this terrorist organization will grow and grow quickly. They have already voiced their local and international terrorist intentions and identified Canada as a potential target.” Canada is just one of a handful of nations that has committed troops to a coalition that will fight ISIL on its own turf."


Israelis consider Canada under Stephen Harper's leadership  as being one of the best friends they have in the world. In short, Israelis trust that Canada has Israel's back.


It is interesting to note that Canada's defense budget was l.4% of the GDP in 2009 whereas by 2013, it was only 1.0%. However, Canada has joined international coalitions to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without considering how such defense expenditures would affect the local economy.


The Harper government advocates democracy and human rights for those that suffer under corrupt leaderships as evidenced by its stances on Three of the most newsworthy events this year: the rise of the Islamic State, the war in the Ukraine, and the war between Hamas and Israel between the months of July and August known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. In each case, the Harper government acted decisively.


Canada has strongly condemned the Islamic State. Moreover, the Canadian Prime Minister has criticized the Russian government for its invasion of Ukraine, and engineered a donation of more than $200 million dollars to build up the Ukrainian infrastructure through such programs as training farmers and developing their businesses.


This summer Mr. Harper was also very clear in his condemnation of Hamas and consistently blamed Hamas for the rising toll in causalities on both on the Palestinian and Israeli sides throughout the 50 day conflict.


Israel has become more isolated now than ever before, as criticism grows over how the recent engagement in Gaza was handled. During the course of the war over 4,500 rockets were fired with the Iron Dome intercepting 735 of those that were intended for populated areas. The Israeli Defense Forces destroyed 32 terrorist tunnels that were intended to be used as underground infiltration tunnels into Israel in order to kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers and citizens. When Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke at the United Nations last month, he said the world does not “understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree, Hamas shares the same militant ambitions of global Islamists . . . they all have the same ideology, they all seek to establish a global militant Islam - where there is no freedom.”


Prime Minister Harper has had a long history of pro-Israel support. Earlier this year, he addressed the Israeli Knesset, and remarked Israeli lawmakers “Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends, and the most natural of allies . . . We must deal with the world as we find it. The threats in this region are real, deeply rooted, and deadly and the forces of progress, often anemically weak. For too many nations, it is still easier to scapegoat Israel than to emulate your success. It is easier to foster resentment and hatred of Israel’s democracy than it is to provide the same rights and freedoms to their own people . . . Through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.” Prime Minister Netanyahu has thanked the Canadian people for this support as he knows that Israel cannot take any support for granted.


As the influence of ISIL grows in the Middle East and closer to the border of Israel, Israel can be thankful for having friends like Canada that fight for freedom and for democracy.


On October 22, 2014 both Canada and Israel were hit with separate awful terrorist attacks. MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) who is the chairman of the Canada-Israel Parliamentary Friendship group quite succinctly wrote, “(these tragic attacks) remind us all of the threats posed to our democracies and to our freedoms by radical ideas, beliefs and motives. It also reminds us of the need to defend ourselves from extreme violence, tyranny and aggression.” Israel and Canada feel the same pain and anger through these attacks, as they face the ever-growing spread of terrorism around the world.

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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.