By Dan Verbin
Publication: Shalom Life
The 2010 UJA Walk with Israel began with a spectacular show of solidarity from members and leaders of the Jewish community as well as politicians from all levels of government.
Thousands of people came from far and wide to get to Ricoh Coliseum and the Direct Energy Centre by 8 a.m. to witness Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's historic speech – the first address by an Israeli Prime Minister to Canada's Jewish community since Menachem Begin spoke here in 1978 and the first visit by an Israeli Prime Minister since Yitzhak Rabin travelled to Canada 17 years ago.
“I’m delighted to follow in their footsteps… to be here in Canada with all of you,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said to enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. He said it was one of the warmest receptions any Israeli Prime Minister has ever received.
Netanyahu, who called Toronto a “beautiful city” full of “beautiful people”, said that the ties between Israel and Canada have never been stronger than they are today. He thanked the people of Canada and our federal and provincial governments, specifically praising Prime Minister Stephen Harper for being such a good friend to Israel.
He also noted the ever-present bond between the Toronto community and the State of Israel.
“This community has a well deserved reputation for its passion and commitment to Israel,” he said. “Though you are thousands of miles away, you show that you are by our side.”
Approximately 7,000 people heard Netanyahu speak and more than 10,000 participated in UJA’s annual walk after the speech.