Our Biblical patriarch Abraham pleaded with God to rescind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, arguing that the virtues of just a few righteous people could suffice to save that world.
In our modern world, that righteous person – whose voice of conscience, critique and courage may be the saving grace – is surely Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
In his speech before a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism in Ottawa last week, Harper sounded the clearest and most courageous call of this century against modern anti-Semitism and hatred of the Jewish state. In fact, Harper’s entire political career has been punctuated by steadfast support for Israel and the Jewish People, with clarity of vision and intensity without parallel in recent times.
We, like many other Israelis bewildered by the growing intensity of hatred against Jews, were comforted by Harper’s remarks. His bold words give us hope that there are indeed many decent people, some of them in positions of power, who will not bow to demonization, Orwellian twisting of history and language, and pure evil. It is reassuring to hear loudly from such righteous gentiles. Harper deserves our gratitude for still believing in true humanism and the redemption of mankind.
Israelis feel very much isolated in today’s world community, which we perceive as increasingly hypocritical, cynical and inimical to Israel’s very existence. The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, vows to erase Israel and tells the world that the Holocaust never happened. He receives applause when he speaks from the UN rostrum, and Columbia University unashamedly invites him to speak and spread the venom. But Harper says “Remembering the Holocaust is not merely an act of historical recognition, but an undertaking.” He goes on to emphasize that “the same threats exist today” and that memory requires “a solemn responsibility to fight those threats.”
Israelis feel that the scourge of traditional anti-Semitism has taken a new form in the international arena. The morally bankrupt UN, and a plethora of additional international forums, single out democratic Israel for imagined and exaggerated human rights abuses, while the same dictatorships that condemn Israel get away with real torture and repression. Major human rights organizations have joined the anti-Israeli chorus, shocking us even more. But Harper is adamant in pointing out this perverse behavior – making explicit reference to Sharansky’s 3-D rubric against double standards, demonization and delegitimization – helping us here in Israel to maintain our sanity and belief in the goodness of man.
Unfortunately, many Western countries do not stand up against the automatic majority of the Muslim and Third World bloc, preferring appeasement. Some actively “engage” enemies of the West and its values, displaying moral relativism. Yet, Canada under Harper has chosen to take a principled stand. Admitting that there is a diplomatic price to be paid for such moral probity, Harper is undeterred: “The easy thing to do,” he says, “is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of ‘honest broker’. (But) Canada will take a stand (in support of Israel), whatever the cost. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are, in the longer term, a threat to all of us.”
Judge Goldstone and much of the international community want to neuter Israel to the point that it can’t defend itself. His committee and its many pernicious international legal collaborators seek to restrain, inhibit, fetter and otherwise prevent Israel’s defense forces from defending against Iran’s proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, under almost any circumstances. Not the Right Honorable Stephen Harper. He has consistently backed Israel’s defensive actions against Palestinian and other terrorists, and stood up to the French, the Russians and others in international fora at the most critical moments. Over the past three years, Harper’s Canada stood alone in defense of Israel – eight times casting the only “no” vote against unfair condemnations of Israel — during votes at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Harper speaks of the “persistence of the Jewish homeland as a sign of hope…” as a symbol of “our faith in humanity’s future, in the power of good over evil.”
The political sociologist Hanna Arendt wrote in her landmark Origins of Totalitarianism that the attitude toward Jews in any realm is the real litmus test of a liberal, moral society. We’re not sure whether Mr. Harper has ever read Arendt, but he certainly has emerged as the finest global spokesman for a more virtuous world. Thank you, Prime Minister Harper, for not despairing of the world nor abandoning us.
This article was originally published as a BESA Center Perspectives Paper and was co-written with Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.