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Joel Lazer (JFW Vice President), Judy Zelikovitz (Vice President, University and Local Partner Services, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)), Ambassador Deborah Lyons (Canada’s Ambassador to Israel), The Honourable Brian Pallister (Premier, Province of Manitoba), Laurel Malkin (JFW President), Elaine Goldstine (JFW CEO), Honourable Jim Carr (MP, Winnipeg South Centre and Minister of Natural Resources)

Elaine Goldstine (JFW CEO), The Honourable Brian Pallister (Premier, Province of Manitoba), Joel Lazer (JFW Vice President and Co-Chair of the JFW Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee), Ambassador Deborah Lyons (Canada’s Ambassador to Israel), Laurelle Harris (Co-Chair JFW Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee)

Interview with Canada's Ambassador to Israel Deborah Lyons on Canada's Relations with Israel and More

June 15, 2018


The Winnipeg Jewish Review had an opportunity to interview Canada's Ambassador to Israel during her recent visit to Winnipeg on May 14, 2018. (Note that this was prior to Prime  Minister Trudeau's statement on May 16th criticizing Israel for its actions on the Gaza border, saying, "Reported use of excessive force and live ammunition is inexcusable," which is why I did not ask her about this topic.)



On the subject of Canada-Israel relations, Ambassador Lyons said, "Canada’s relations with Israel are strong and growing stronger every day. We’re doing a lot of work with Canada on the trade and innovation front. We’re trying our best to create a stronger business framework and business environment for Canadian and Israeli entrepreneurs. Taking advantage of all the work that’s been done here in Canada on the high-tech side....but also the terrific expertise that Israel has in  cyber...artificial intelligence ..and so forth."


She added, "I’ve had my staff work with a lot of the universities across Canada." She referred to the work  being done between University of Manitoba and and Hebrew University on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. "That is just one example of many, many research collaborations that are happening between Canadian and Israeli universities." She noted that Israel is working at making " those relationships even stronger" and at getting "more faculty exchanges and more students exchanges."


She also noted that Israel  has great "tech know how on a number of important areas like ag tech and water management and so forth."


"Canada and Israel are working together as development partners," she explained, in such countries as the the Ukraine, Ghana, and Rwanda and "we are looking at expanding that partnership on development" .... She added that " the Canadian development brand and the Canadian know how mixed with the Israeli willingness and desire and know third world countries can truly help to heal the world."


Ambassador Lyons also spoke  about working on the area of communications. "I’m determined to help Canadians get a better understanding of modern day Israel and help Israelis understand Canada better. Israelis have a tendency when they look at North America, to look at the United States. That’s got to change. They have to recognize how valuable Canada’s relationship is and what a fantastic Jewish Canadian community that we have here that is very supportive of Israel and very engaged. So, we need to be doing a better job on communications to make sure that Canadians get the Israel of today and the potential of the partnership and vice versa with Israelis."



When asked about Israel's relationship with Saudi Arabia Ambassador Lyons noted that with Saudi Arabia and a number of other Middle Eastern countries, "relations with Israel are warming, certainly on a government to government level.Bahrain even came out recently and spoke about Israel’s right to defend itself [against Iran]. We’re not seeing it as much on a people to people level that we would like to see."


Regarding Israel's relationship with  Egypt, Ambassador Lyons said that " the security cooperation relationship is incredible strong, the strongest in the history of the two countries. It is interesting to see the shift that is not only taking place in the Middle East, but in the larger part of the world in spite of what is happening there right now. I do believe that the world is coming to Israel like it never has before and that is true of some of its Arab neighbours as it is of South American countries, African countries and so forth that are starting to look at new partnerships with Israel. I think where we need to go is a stronger people to people relationship with some of these countries and that is going to take some time and some work."


The Winnipeg Jewish Review referred to the New York times Editorial board's article which said Mahmoud Abbas should resign after his recent speech  and asked Ambassador Lyons to comment on this ( the speech claimed the Holocaust was the result of Jews' own "social behavior" and financial conduct rather than anti-Semitism). Ambassador Lyons responded, "We were obviously critical of his speech, but I think if we had politicians resign as a result of their inappropriate comments, there would be quite an exodus. I think we need Abbas to be continuing to manage the PA and hopefully what will become his engagement in the peace process. Canada continues to be supportive of the PA. We regret very much his remarks, he apologized, and I think we move on from there. His

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