ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF
Source: Shalom Life, 7-13-11
On July 10, 2011, the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA) hosted a reception at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which celebrated the continued relationship between Israel and Canada. The event was also meant to mark Canada Day, although the festivities were a tad belated.
CIJA is the new, unified constellation for all of the public affairs agencies of the Canadian Jewish community. These include the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), the Canada-Israel Committee (CIC) and the Quebec-Israel Committee (QIC), which all became part of one organization on July 1.
At the event, a formal bilateral agreement was signed, renewing the mandate of the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation (CIIRDF) for another five years. CIIRDF was established in 1994 with a goal of promoting collaborative research and development between private sector companies in Canada and Israel.
The organization focuses on the commercialization of new technologies, most of which are start-ups. Since its inception, the foundation has supported over 70 projects, which have yielded approximately $1 billion in revenue for the participating companies both in Israel and across Canada.
“For Canada, CIIRDF was an innovation,” reads CIIRDF’s website. “As a result of its success, the Government of Canada created International Science and Technology Partnerships Program (ISTPP) to deliver the India, China and Brazil programs. For Israel, CIIRDF is one of a number of similar bilateral initiatives, the first being the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) initiative. The CIIRDF program design is based on the success of BIRD.”
Also according to CIIRDF’s website, the organization is involved in three main activities: “promoting and marketing the benefits of joint Canadian-Israeli R&D collaboration, matching companies in one country seeking a research partner in the other and supporting projects by contributing up to 50 per cent of the joint R&D costs.”
On hand for the high profile event in Jerusalem were over 140 Israeli and Canadian government leaders, academics, businessmen and community leaders. Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman; Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister, Yuli Edelstein; and Cabinet Secretary, Tzvi Hauser were all in attendance.
There were also other Israeli representatives there, such as deputy national security advisor to the Prime Minister, Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman; deputy director general of the foreign ministry, Ambassador Baruch Bina; former Israeli ambassador to Canada, Haim Divon; chairman of the Israel-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group in Knesset, Yohanan Plesner MK; director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Professor Efraim Inbar; Professor Gil Troy of the Hartman Center and McGill University; Professor Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University; and NGO Monitor and Col. Yisrael Tal-Saranga, head of Israel Defense Forces public affairs.
The CIIRDF renewal was signed by Canadian Ambassador to Israel, Paul Hunt and Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman during the reception. Hunt thanked CIJA for hosting the elegant dinner reception in Jerusalem and noted Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper’s commitment to defending Israel “no matter the political cost.”
Five Canadian members of parliament were at the dinner, visiting Israel on their CIJA-sponsored trip. This list included James Bezan of Manitoba, Judy Foote of Newfoundland, Larry Miller from Ontario, Joyce Murray of British Columbia and Bev Shipley of Ontario. Professor Irwin Cotler of Quebec was also present to show his support. Immediate past UIAC president Barbara Farber, outgoing CIC chairman Moshe Ronen, and CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel all represented the Jewish community of Canada at the event.
Other Canadians in attendance were embassy deputy chief of mission, Katherine Verrier-Frechette; military attaché, Col. Michael McLean; commercial counselor, Bonnie Berger; Minister-Counselor, Andre Dorion; and the Canadian Representative to the Palestinian Authority, Chris Greenshields.
“This event serves as a much sought after platform to give expression to our deep appreciation for the extraordinary support Canada has demonstrated for Israel over the last number of years and to celebrate the warmth and depth of the friendship between our two democracies,” said Ronen, who spoke at the reception on behalf of Canada’s Jewish community.
“The principled stand that has characterized the policies of the Harper Government serve as the benchmark for all countries committed to democracy and justice, and the personal leadership he has shown is an inspiration and source of tremendous pride for all of us.”