Not any more

Harper says Canada will stand by Israel

In Canada on November 8, 2010 at 15:50

Harper says Canada will stand by Israel

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May, 2010.

Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May, 2010.

Mark Kennedy, Postmedia News · Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday that Canada has refused to “pretend” it is being an honest broker on Israel — even though it meant this country lost votes in its recent bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Mr. Harper made the remarks in a speech on Parliament Hill at a gathering of international parliamentarians and experts attending a conference on combating anti-Semitism.

The prime minister delivered a strongly worded warning about the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Canada and abroad. He said the persecution of Jews is becoming a global phenomenon in which anti-Semitic ideologies target the Jewish people in their “homeland” of Israel and uses the “language of human rights to do so.”

“When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand,” said Mr. Harper.

“I know, by the way, because I have the bruises to show for it, that whether it is at the United Nations, or any other international forum, the easiest thing to do is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just about being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of ‘honest broker.’”

“There are, after all, a lot more votes — a lot more — in being anti-Israeli than in taking a stand. But, as long as I am prime minister, whether it is at the UN or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand, 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 a threat to all of us.”

Canada lost its bid for the UN Security Council seat in mid-October. It withdrew from a run-off against Portugal after twice running second to the diminutive European state.

The result meant that Mr. Harper’s government was the first to have failed to maintain Canada’s record of winning a place on the 15-member body — the UN’s most powerful — once per decade since the United Nations’ inception in 1945.

While the vote in the 192-member UN General Assembly is secret, broad opposition from members of the Islamic block appeared to have scuttled Canada’s chances of returning to the council for the 2011-2012 two-year term.

The Harper government’s shift toward support for Israel compared to positions held by previous Liberal governments had not gone down well with members of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference, said officials based at the UN.

In his speech on Monday, Mr. Harper delivered a sombre address about the state of humanity.

“It is a fact of history, and it is a fact of our nature, that humans can choose to be inhuman. This is the paradox of freedom. That awesome power, that grave responsibility — to choose between good and evil.”

Mr. Harper said the world must never forget that there are those who would “choose evil” and would launch another Holocaust, if left unchecked.

“In response to this resurgence of moral ambivalence on these issues, we must speak clearly,” said the prime minister.

“Jews today in many parts of the world and many different settings are increasingly subjected to vandalism, threats, slurs, and just plain, old-fashioned lies.”

Mr. Harper said it is particularly disturbing that anti-Semitism has gained a place at “our universities,” where at times, it is not the “mob who are removed, but the Jewish students under attack.”

“And, under the shadow of a hateful ideology with global ambitions, one which targets the Jewish homeland as a scapegoat, Jews are savagely attacked around the world — such as, most appallingly, in Mumbai in 2008.”

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