Honourable senators, sundown this evening will mark the beginning of the celebrations of the sixty-first anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel according to the Jewish calendar.
In 1948, the United Nations determined that what was then Palestine should be divided into two parts, a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. The Jews agreed to that partition, but the Arabs did not. The Palestinians really had nothing to say about the matter because the surrounding Arab states did not permit them to express any preference.
Immediately upon the declaration of state, seven Arab countries attacked the fledgling Israel with massive and well-equipped armies, while Israel had no army, no equipment to speak of and virtually no ability to obtain any equipment since supply of equipment had been embargoed.
Nevertheless, Israel survived its birth pangs – some say miraculously – and became what it now still is: the only full and functioning democracy in the Middle East.
Honourable senators, Canada has a special affinity to Israel. Canadians and Israelis share a number of significant democratic and human rights values. Both enjoy a free press. Both enjoy gender equality. Both enjoy an independent judiciary. Both enjoy a democratically elected Parliament.
If sessions of the Israeli Parliament are raucous, somewhat reminiscent of a full day of Question Period in the other place, it is because of the robust and perhaps too democratic process that Israel enjoys.
Unfortunately, this little state, two thirds of the size of Vancouver Island and barely 40 per cent of the size of Nova Scotia, has not enjoyed a moment of peace since its creation. Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and others are bent on its destruction.
The uninitiated observer would think that if Israelis were to relinquish the land captured by it during the 1967 War, all would be forgiven and forgotten and the Israelis and Arabs would live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that is not the case. A quick read of the Hamas charter and of the Hezbollah charter reveals that those organizations, sponsored by Syria and Iran, are not interested in the pre-1967 borders. They are interested in completely destroying the State of Israel. Hamas and Hezbollah are strongly supported by the lunatic who currently rules Iran and who continues to call for the genocidal destruction of Israel.
Canada’s strong and courageous stand against Durban II, the outrageous Ahmadinejad lunacy, and Canada’s ongoing support for an Israel living securely and in peace with a Palestinian democratic state continues to be a source of great pride to all thinking Canadians. It is certainly a source of great encouragement to the Israeli people who feel a special affinity and bond to the people of their sister democracy, Canada. I ask honourable senators to join with me in wishing Israel a happy birthday.