Canada’s Forgotten Jewish World War II Heroes

Some 17,000 Canadian Jews fought in World War II; 450 of them lost their lives. Aron Heller tells some of their stories, including that of Wilfred Canter:

In April 1943, the Halifax bomber that Canter co-piloted was shot down on its way back from a mission over Stuttgart. Canter parachuted out into occupied France, breaking a leg when he landed. The only member of the six-man crew to evade capture, he was given food and clothing by a local family, then passed to members of the Resistance, who smuggled him to Paris, then Bordeaux, then over the Pyrenees by foot into Spain. From there he made his way to Gibraltar and then England. King George VI personally awarded Canter a Distinguished Flying Medal at Buckingham Palace, where he was cited for displaying “courage and tenacity of a high order.”

After less than a month of home leave in Toronto, Canter . . . deemed himself fit for duty and returned to England to resume his bombing missions, including one in which his plane took fire but returned safely to base. In April 1944, Canter was shot down again, on a bombing run over Düsseldorf, and was captured by the Germans. After a lengthy Gestapo interrogation, he was detained for nine months in Stalag Luft III, a German prisoner-of-war camp. . . .

As the Allies were closing in on Germany, the camp’s remaining war prisoners were marched west, away from the advancing Soviet army. Canter escaped and managed to connect with a British unit. Family lore adds that he was briefly recaptured by a German officer, but resistance forces shot the German dead, freeing Canter again and handing him the officer’s Luger pistol, which he kept as a memento.

In 1948, Canter was one of five veteran Canadian pilots who joined Israel’s nascent air force. He was killed a few weeks after he arrived when his plane’s engine caught fire during takeoff.

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More about: Canadian Jewry, Israeli War of Independence, Jews in the military, World War II

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy