The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement recognizing Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israeli Independence Day:
“This national day, celebrated on or around the 5th day of the month of Iyar on the Hebrew calendar, commemorates the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel by future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on May 14, 1948.
“The celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut is a joyous occasion not just for the more than 20,000 Canadians of Israeli heritage, but also for the some 350,000 members of the Canadian Jewish community.
“Canada and Israel have a longstanding relationship marked by close ties. Support for Israel and its right to live in peace and security with its neighbours has been Canadian policy since the founding of Israel in 1948. I firmly believe that over the past six decades, our two countries have created a relationship based on mutual respect and trust, solidified by our shared democratic values and the ties of family and friendship.
“Israel has made remarkable progress and seen extraordinary development in its 63 years of existence. Its democracy is strong and vibrant, and its society is free and open. For this, the people of Israel have my utmost respect and admiration.
“But it is unfortunate that even after more than 60 years, Israel remains a country threatened by those groups and regimes who deny to this day its right to exist. Israel and Israelis continue to struggle against anti-Semitic hatred. Their indomitable spirit, however, remains alive, intact, and an inspiration to us all.
“As Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, ‘The courage, resilience and determination that built this formidable, democratic nation continue to hearten Jewish communities around the globe.’
“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I am delighted to join with Jewish and Israeli Canadians in celebrating this national day and I wish them a very happy Israeli Independence Day.”