Israeli ambassador to Canada steps down!!

Barely one year into his job, Israel’s Ambassador to Canada has announced that he will be resigning from his post. He is the second high profile Israeli diplomat to do so. Three weeks ago Israel’s ambassador to France also resigned. Hoffman’s resignation came the day after 100,000 people demonstrated in Tel Aviv against the extreme right wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Read more.

Israel’s ambassador to Canada, Ronan Hoffman, announced suddenly on Saturday that he intends to leave his post in Ottawa because of “political disagreements” with the new Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, reported CBC news. Hoffman had been appointed less than a year ago by former Israeli PM Yair Lapid who was defeated by Netanyahu in Israel’s most recent election.

Hoffman did not specify what political disagreements he had with the Netanyahu government. He declined to give an interview to the CBC. Before the election most observers commented that there were very few policy differences between Netanyahu’s Likud party, and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.


In Israel – huge anti-government demonstrations

… but within the blue and white Zionist consensus

There have been huge demonstrations in Israel in the last few weeks against the new government. Most of the anger seems to focus on issues like minority rights (LBGTQ, women’s rights, etc.) and a stated desire to “rein in” the Israeli Supreme Court which previous Israeli governments have seen as too “liberal”.

What is NOT being protested is human rights abuses against Palestinians. Nor is it against the apparent determination of the Netanyahu government to “finish the job” of crushing or expelling the Palestinians, in the words of one of his new ministers. In fact, while Israel kills Palestinians at an increasing rate (over 5 per week since the beginning of 2023), the issues facing the Palestinians anywhere – Gaza, West Bank, Jerusalem or even inside Israel are ignored by the protesters.

Except for a few Palestinian flags on the margins of the demonstrations, only blue and white Israeli flags were in evidence, as Netanyahu’s new government has banned Palestinian flags from flying anywhere in Israel, despite the fact that 20% of Israeli citizens are of Palestinian origin.

“A demonstration covered in a sea of blue-and-white flags while the flags of the other people that live in this land are prohibited (…) cannot be my demonstration”, wrote Israeli journalist Gideon Levy. “An all-Jewish, one-nation demonstration in a clearly binational state cannot be a demonstration for anyone who seeks equality or justice, which are among the key words of this protest but remain hollow within it.

“How can one participate in such a demonstration?”, continues Levy. “There is not and cannot be a demonstration on democracy and equality,(…), in an apartheid format in an apartheid state, while ignoring apartheid’s existence.”

An embarassment for Canada?

Ambassador Hoffman’s resignation might be considered a bit of an embarassment for Prime Minister Trudeau.

“Congratulations”, Trudeau wrote Netanyahu after the Israeli election. “The partnership between our countries is based on (…) our shared commitment to upholding democratic values. Let’s keep building on that and making progress on shared priorities.”

As even some Israeli diplomats express concerns about Israel’s democracy, it remains to be seen whether Trudeau will reconsider his position that Israel and Canada are based on “shared values”.


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

If you know others who are interested in the delicate and difficult Israel/Palestine issue, please share this post with them.

17 comments

  1. I heard the news on the CBC. He said something like his conscience couldn’t let him go on in the job. I’ll listen again and take notes!

  2. there isn’t any law against raising the Palestinian flag in Israel, and in fact Palestinian flags can be seen in these demonstrations.
    The opposition movement against the new government is a big tent movement, one of the main speakers at the demonstrations was Ayman
    Odeh the leader of the main Arab/Palestinian party in Israel

    1. Hey Ahik,
      thank you as always. Whether there is a “law” or not, Minister Ben Gvir has “banned” palestinian flags anywhere in Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post. https://www.jpost.com/opinion/article-728171

      Of course sometimes Palestinian Citizens of Israel do dare to fly their flag, but as you know, they are often pulled down by right wing Israelis or even the Police. Those who fly them risk being arrested for “terrorism”.

      1. Ben Gvir did say that he would instruct the police to take down Palestinian flags in public spaces but he was informed that he has no authority to do that. No one is risking being arrested for raising the Palestinian flags, you know full well that some Palestinian business owners are flying the Palestinian flags in their business. I think I sent you few pictures on WhatsApp

      2. Hello Ahik,
        Thanks for this information. I understand that as an Israeli you are eager to call out any criticisms which you feel are exaggerations.
        I think that is legitimate. I don’t intentionally exaggerate my criticisms of Israel. I don’t think I need to. The reality is bad enough.
        However, is it your feeling/position that a Palestinian citizen of Israel can fly the Palestinian flag anywhere in Israel without being bothered by either police or settlers? That does not conform to the reality I ave seen.

        I have been to Israel many times, travelling the country from top to bottom. I can only think of 2 or 3 times I have ever seen a Palestinian flag flying – always in a demonstration where a large crowd afforded some protection.

        In East Jerusalem, which by international law is Occupied Palestinian territory, you see dozens of Israeli flags but never (or almost never) a Palestinian one. I have several times asked Palestinians why this is the case and the answer is always the same “If you fly a Palestinian flag it will be torn down, and you might be arrested as a terrorist”.

        Here is a recent New York Times article entitled “Palestinian Flags arent illegal in Israel. They still get torn down.”

  3. Wow! As a diplomat,he is not supposed to say anything. But his action speaks for itself. I hope he will someday feel free to speak out. And I hope that he will go beyond the concern with the government’s efforts to seize control of the judiciary and acknowledge the issue of an apartheid state and the flight of the Palestinian people.

    1. I think you are right in the immediate sense. He was a “political” appointment and not a career public servant – and a personal choice of the now defeated PM. So it is not surprising that Bibi would want to replace him in any event.

      But I think the resignations add to the tension and the debate inside Israel, and in the Jewish diaspora.

      1. Maybe. To me it would have to be a cascade of resignations to have some impact but even then BiBi couldn’t care less about one or two or more Ambassadors resigning in protest. Interestingly, Hoffman is not leaving until the summer. Perhaps he will change his mind.

  4. Right, the subject of the racism and abuses of Palestinian rights, is not mentioned anywhere or anytime. It did not come up in 5 elections, not even by the so called left. Israelis only concerned if anything touches them or their lifestyle.

  5. I got this from a blog by D. Lascaris. It sums up what Trudeau might not say.

    Dimitri Lascaris shared a link.
    I very much doubt that any government in apartheid Israel, no matter how extreme, will cause discomfort to Justin Trudeau. When it comes to Israel’s oppression and brutalization of Palestinians, Trudeau simply has no red lines.

  6. Ronen Hoffman has been a great ambassador who has taken the trouble to build connections with the Canadian Jewish community while still doing his job of representing Israel’s interests in Canada. I’m personally sad to see him leaving, because I have enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to hear him speak and I think he is committed to the kind of pluralistic Israel, with equal rights for all, which I aspire to see built.

    In your comments, you say that the large Israeli demonstrations against the new right wing government do not focus on the concerns of Palestinian citizens of Israel. But it is important that your readers understand that the demonstrations are against a sweeping proposal by the new government to restrict the power of the Israeli courts to overturn government legislation. In my judgment there is a very important connection between this issue and the interests of Palestinians, both those who are citizens of Israel and those who live under Israeli occupation.

    The power of the court has been used in the past to check the power of the Israeli majority where it was seen to infringe on the rights of minorities. As you know, one of the most important minorities in Israel is Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. The court has, for example ruled in the past that it is illegal to discriminate in housing and employment against Arab Israelis.

    The court has also intervened in the past to tell the Israeli military that its policies in the territories captured by Israel in 1967 were illegal. This has been beneficial to Palestinians whose land was affected by the construction of the Israeli separation barrier. It also ruled that the IDF could not kill members of armed groups who were working to overthrow the state unless they were in the act of perpetrating an attack. Pre-emptive attacks or assassinations, which used to happen were stopped by a ruling of the court.

    The Israeli Supreme Court has emerged as a crucial check on the power of the elected government in Israel and on the power of the majority to inflict its will on minorities. It’s an institution that Canadians and Americans should be familiar with and the protection of that institution is important to everyone who lives under Israeli rule, Jews and Arabs, citizens and non-citizens.

    1. Hello David, thanks for your comments.
      You are right that a good deal of the protest has been about reining in the Israeli supreme court – something that Canadians would be angered about if it were to happen in Canada too.
      The Israeli supreme court has been a blocker to Israel’s more right wing fanatics as you rightly say.

      However, it has been of very limited help to the Palestinians. I will cite only one example from the several you raised.

      QUOTE : “The court has, for example ruled in the past that it is illegal to discriminate in housing and employment against Arab Israelis.”

      That is true. Israeli communities were told by the court they could not exclude arabs from entering the community to live and buy a house. However, the Israeli supreme court is not as liberal as you might think. At the same time it allowed a law which permits communities to exclude people on the basis of ‘cultural compatibility”. Well, guess who isn’t compatible? Israeli arabs.

      Another example you did not mention: The same supreme court has given the go ahead to expell more than 1000 Palestinian residents of Masafer Jatta in the West Bank on the grounds that the IDF has the right to create firing areas where it wants, even on private Palestinian property.

      Thanks.

  7. I wonder if the Canadian Ambassador to Israel decided to resign for similar reasons as Mr. Hoffman , would that send a signal to the Trudeau Government?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s