Queen's University

Israeli ambassador visits campus

 
2014-05-12

 In July 2013 Principal Woolf, along with a delegation from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with the Association of University Heads, Israel (AUH) in Tel Aviv in order to strengthen ties between academic institutions in the two countries.

On May 9, Israel’s ambassador to Canada Rafael Barack visited Queen’s in support of this agreement. He toured a number of research laboratories before sitting down with Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer, to discuss co-operation between Queen’s and Israeli researchers.

Andrew Stokes: Given the memorandum of understanding between the AUCC and the AUH, how are you as the ambassador to Canada supporting the agreement?

Rafael Barack: [One way is] a symposium happening in Ottawa later this year hosted by the AUCC that we’re excited about. We’ll be sending scientists, government officials and success stories from the high-tech industry to represent Israel and to introduce the Israeli way of innovation. We’ve also invited 15 Canadian university officials to Israel; we want to look for more ways to co-operate, particularly through research and development.

Ambassador Rafael Barack (left) visited Dr. Peter Davies (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) lab during his visit. (University Communications)

AS: What were the goals of your visit to Queen’s?

RB: Canada, and Queen’s in particular, has a long-standing and deep friendship with Israel that spans years. In fact May 11 is the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Israel. There’s a lot of interest and a lot of curiosity in Israel about Canada and we think there’s a lot to be done. I came to Queen’s to get familiar with the authorities in their subjects and meet the people who are already working with Israel. The government can only guide; it’s the researchers that need to act on these relationships. There’s a lot of potential for scientific development and research, particularly long-term agreements that can hopefully contribute to the good of humanity.

AS: What did you learn while at Queen’s?

RB: Dr. Steven Liss [Queen’s Vice-Principal (Research)] gave an excellent talk on all the activities happening here at Queen’s and I was really impressed by the work in chemistry, neuroscience and biomedicine I saw happening. Dr. Oded Haklai’s work in the social sciences was great to hear about and Dr. Alice Aiken’s work on post-traumatic stress disorder and veteran’s care is superb.

AS: Given your work in countries all over the world, in what ways do you think Canada is exceptional?

RB: Well, a new Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report says that Canada is the best-educated country in the world, and you have more than 100 universities and colleges. A country the size of Israel can’t support the sheer number of institutes you have. Canada has many high achievements in science, and has a number of Nobel Prizes to its name. Your laboratories and research facilities are excellent. We in Israel excel in the realm of the theoretical, and Canada has people doing superb clinical and practical work. This makes for great complementarity between our countries.

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