Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been a stalwart defender of Israel. One would expect, then, for him to give a warm speech to the Knesset. (“Let me repeat that: Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so. This is a very Canadian trait, to do something for no reason other than it is right even when no immediate reward for, or threat to, ourselves is evident.”) With the possible exception of President George W. Bush’s address in the same locale, however, I cannot think of a more moving and effective speech on the Jewish state and the Middle East more generally. It should be read in full, but several passages deserve particular note:
No state is beyond legitimate questioning or criticism.
But our support does mean at least three things. First, Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Israel. Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable. Second, Canada believes that Israel should be able to exercise its full rights as a UN member-state and to enjoy the full measure of its sovereignty. For this reason, Canada has spoken on numerous occasions in support of Israel’s engagement and equal treatment in multilateral fora. And, in this regard, I should mention that we welcome Israel’s induction this month into the western, democratic group of states at the United Nations. Third, we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.
Now I understand, in the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy “to go along to get along” and single out Israel.
But such “going along to get along,” is not a “balanced” approach, nor a “sophisticated” one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong.
He makes no bones about it: Treating Israel in such a manner is nothing but anti-Semitism:
On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students. Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state. Think about that. Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.
It is nothing short of sickening.
But this is the face of the new anti-Semitism.
And then in an extraordinary rebuke to the Obama administration, Harper let it be known his views on the “peace process” (“I believe that a Palestinian state will come, and one thing that will make it come is when the regimes that bankroll terrorism realize that the path to peace is accommodation, not violence. Moreover on Iran, Canada is refusing to following the administration’s foolishness: “Canada will evaluate the success of this approach not on the merits of its words, but on the implementation and verification of its promised actions. We truly hope that it is possible to walk the Iranian government back from taking the irreversible step of manufacturing nuclear weapons. But, for now, Canada’s own sanctions will remain fully in place.”)
And to top it off, he put a stake through the heart of “linkage”: “One must look beyond Israel’s borders to find the causes of the relentless oppression, poverty and violence in much of the region, of the heartbreaking suffering of Syrian refugees, of sectarian violence and the fears of religious minorities, especially Christians, and of the current domestic turmoil in so many states.”
Now, imagine if the president spoke and acted with such absolute clarity. Instead, he celebrates the implementation of an interim deal that gives Iran access to billions in sanctions relief in exchange for adjustments in its illicit nuclear weapons program that, as it brags, could be reversed in a day.
Don’t let anyone tell you leadership doesn’t matter. You don’t think Canada would be up for a trade, do you?