State Dinner Hosted by His Excellency Reuben Rivlin, President of the State of Israel, and the First Lady Nechama Rivlin
Jerusalem, Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Thank you for such a warm welcome to Israel.
Sharon and I have been looking forward to this State visit to Israel, particularly after meeting the highly-respected Shimon Peres during his own State visit to Canada in 2012.
Mr. Peres was a friend of our country. While in Canada, he remarked how wonderful it was to be in a country that supplies Israel and the world with “fresh and clean hope.”
Earlier today, I laid a wreath at the tomb of Shimon Peres at Mount Hertzl. I reflected on him, his dedication to the future of this country, and his belief in the power of peace and innovation.
This is a belief Canada shares.
And I know, President Rivlin, you do as well. I thank you for welcoming us so warmly.
As president, you have served as Israel’s conscience on so many occasions. You have urged Israelis and the world to work together, both to strengthen our links and to move toward peace in the region. I want you to know that Canada stands with you in this regard.
Today, Sharon and I, along with the entire Canadian delegation, are delighted to be among our Israeli friends. We are here to reaffirm our multidimensional ties, which touch on all aspects of society, and to broaden our ability to work together.
I’d like to share just one example of how Canadians are contributing to Israel—and how Israelis are contributing to Canada.
Moishe Safdie was born in Haifa before moving to Canada in 1953. In fact, he launched his architectural career at McGill University, in Montréal, where I also served as president.
He would become one of the world’s foremost architects, designing buildings around the world—including in Canada and Israel. One of his designs is Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, which we saw earlier today.
After visiting Yad Vashem—a heart-wrenching experience—I planted an olive tree in the Grove of Nations, the very first by a Canadian. Situated close to Yad Vashem, the Grove is a symbol of hope for the future. It reminds us that tragedy cannot last. And that peace is a goal worthy of our ambition.
The proximity of the serene grove to Yad Vashem’s striking and solemn architecture is a stark contrast that gives us a picture of Israel—a country that looks to the future as it honours its history.
Moishe Safdie once said, “Architecture should be rooted in the past, and yet be part of our own time and forward looking.”
I believe this applies to countries as well.
Wherever you go in Israel, it’s humbling to stand in the midst of such history.
So many come to Israel for solace and contemplation.
So many come here to find a link to their past, to their people, to their faith.
And though this is the first State visit by a governor general of Canada, Canadians are no strangers here.
Canadians from all sectors and levels have come here to learn from and work with you.
Around 20 000 Canadians call Israel home. And some 350 000 Jewish people live in Canada, many of whom have links here.
One of the links I’m familiar with is between our academic institutions. The last time I was here, I came in my capacity as the president of the University of Waterloo. And several times before that, I was here as president of McGill.
I remember how impressed I was by your universities, by your commitment to education.
After I left Waterloo, the university established a scholarship, in my name, for Israeli students to come to Canada to study. I’m pleased that there are a number of Israelis as we speak studying in Waterloo under this scholarship.
Canada continues to look to Israel for new partnerships, new ideas and new ways of innovating.
And it’s no wonder we do so.
Canadians, too, are innovation-driven in diverse areas.
I see so many areas to broaden our already robust partnerships, and I will speak to Israelis about enhancing our collaboration during my visit.
Together, we can chart a new, stronger relationship, one based on our strong people-to-people ties and the friendship of the last 70 years.
Israel provides the world with the hope of new ideas and new innovations. And Canada is privileged to be a part of that.
Thank you, once again, for your warm welcome on this historic first State visit.
I would now like to raise a glass to our continued friendship and to our expanding relationship.