Shimon Peres tells Montrealers about Israel's challenges
Published Thursday, May 10, 2012 8:45PM EDT
MONTREAL - The ninth Israeli president and onetime Nobel peace prize laureate was in Montreal Thursday to tell of the challenges faced by Israel.
One of them is a shortage of something Canadians enjoy in relative abundance. Shimon Peres, 88, couldn't resist giving tribute to Canada's impressive aquatic resources.
"When I look at you with all your lakes and rivers, I am completely jealous," he said. "We in Israel have one river, which has more fame than water. We have two lakes: one is dead."
But the country has persevered in the face of that and many other issues, as he told the Shaar Hashomayim Congregation.
"Israel began as a clear doubt. When you looked around, all the facts and numbers were against us. In 1948 we were only 650,000 Jewish people, against 40 million Arabs," he said.
"We discovered with an open heart that we had nothing. Statistically, we didn't stand a chance: outnumbered, outgunned, unsupported, not accepted and maybe this was the most important discovery," he said.
Montrealers who turned out for the visit were impressed.
"I think the message he brought across is that Israel has so much to be proud of," said one.
"It was beautiful and it was an honour for us to be here," said another.
"I thought it was wonderful, absolutely wonderful," said a third person from the jam-packed synagogue.