Harper’s Knesset Speech: A foundational document

Published in Israel Hayom, January 21, 2014.

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The Canadian prime minister’s address was a sharp and courageous indictment of the intellectual assault on Israel. It is one of the most important ethical documents about Jews since the days of Cyrus the Great. 

The address yesterday of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Knesset was a historic moment in diplomacy concerning Israel and the Middle East. Harper’s profound speech should become a foundational document in global discourse about Israel. It should be studied carefully, everywhere.

What Harper laid out went far beyond a message of staunch support for Israel. In fact, the speech wasn’t about friendship for Israel. It was about defeating the campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel.

Harper articulated a moral worldview and an approach of principle that calls-out the hypocrisies, and shames the injustices, of what passes today as “politically correct” policy regarding Israel.

His main thrust, as I understood it, was to explain why Canada refuses to be part of the international chorus (which, sadly, includes most of Europe) that singles-out Israel for criticism on the international stage. In particular, he savaged the campaign to boycott and isolate Israel, and called the application to Israel of the term apartheid “nothing short of sickening.”

“In the world of diplomacy,” said Harper, “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. Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant. And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.”

“As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel. 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.”

“And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain. We all know about the old anti-Semitism. It was crude and ignorant, and it led to the horrors of the death camps. Of course, in many dark corners, it is still with us. But, in much of the western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society. People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.”

Harper emphatically concluded that, in this ugly environment, “support today for the Jewish State of Israel is more than a moral imperative. It is also of strategic importance, also a matter of our own long-term interests. Therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with Israel.”

Harper’s speech is, then, a sharp and courageous indictment of the intellectual assault on Israel. It is clarion call for integrity and justice for Israel. It is a bold and noble demand for morality in global policy on the Middle East.

It is, in my assessment, one of the most important ethical documents about Jews since the days of Cyrus the Great – a leader, like Harper, who viewed the Jewish return to the Land of Israel as a just, meta-historic and ultimately uplifting drama.

Thank you, Prime Minister Harper, for your visionary and valiant leadership.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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