Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks in honour of the President of Israel
Good afternoon, dear friends. Thank you for joining us on this special day. This week we have the tremendous honour of welcoming to Ottawa President Rivlin of Israel.
Standing here today, I’m reminded of the day the President and I first met. I travelled to Jerusalem in the Fall of 2016 to attend the funeral of the late Shimon Peres. It is a city unlike any other. Touching the Western Wall, walking through the streets of the old city, you can see why Jerusalem has been so central to the religious, national and cultural identity of the Jewish people for thousands of years. To have the privilege of visiting Jerusalem on the day it mourned one of its most beloved sons was a deeply moving experience that I won’t soon forget. The extent to which world leaders had come together to celebrate the life of the exemplary statesman spoke to his monumental legacy. A legacy defined by convictions, compassion, and collaboration.
Mr. Peres first travelled to Canada in his early 30s, to talk security cooperation with C.D. Howe, for what would soon become the State of Israel. It marked the beginning of a long-standing relationship between our two countries, with close cooperation that extends far beyond matters of security. We went on to become not only steadfast allies, but dear friends. Friends who stand up for each other and support one another in good times and in bad times. Friends who share the same values of peace, freedom and the rule of law; values that President Rivlin embodies. His defense of democracy and inclusive politics attest to his commitment to uphold the principles that are so dear to our people.
But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that strong friendship, one that will stand the test of time, takes work. Indeed, it is a responsibility of every generation to cultivate our special bond. And together we’ve taken up that work.
At a time when Israel is being targeted with discriminatory measures designed to isolate it on the international scene, Canada continues to defend Israel and stand side-by-side with our Israeli brothers and sisters.
And we continue to strengthen the bonds between us every chance we get.
We modernized the Canada-Israel Free-Trade Agreement. We are in the process of developing a youth mobility strategy so more young people can experience our respective countries and everything they have to offer. We are working together to combat hatred and anti-Semitism around the world, including through the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the Global Campaign to Stop Antisemitism.
And our government will continue to speak out in the most forceful way against movements like BDS and the so-called Israel Apartheid Week, which hold Israel to an entirely different standard than any other country in the world.
Mr. President, when you eulogized your predecessor, you stressed his passion for the future. You said that for him the future was more important than the past. Well it is now up to all of us to carry on the proud legacy of those who came before us and write the next chapter in the story of our friendship. Working together, I have no doubt that our relationship will only grow stronger, and our people closer.
On that note, I’d like to raise a glass to President Rivlin and to our friends, the people of Israel. Thank you.