This past Monday, January 20, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the Knesset in Jerusalem. His speech was a remarkable statement of support for the Jewish State.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“But, this is the face of the new anti-Semitism. It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation. Of course, criticism of Israeli government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Semitic. But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to defend itself, while systematically ignoring – or excusing – the violence and oppression all around it?
“What else can we call it when Israel is routinely targeted at the United Nations? And when Israel remains the only country to be the subject of a permanent agenda item at the regular sessions of its Human Rights Council?
“Ladies and gentlemen, any assessment – any judgment – of Israel’s actions must start with this understanding: In the sixty-five years that modern Israel has been a nation, Israelis have endured attacks and slanders beyond counting and have never known a day of true peace.
“And we understand that Israelis live with this, impossible calculus: If you act to defend yourselves, you will suffer widespread condemnation, over and over again. But, should you fail to act, you alone will suffer the consequence of your inaction, and that consequence will be final, your destruction.
“The truth, that Canada understands, is that many of the hostile forces Israel faces, are faced by all western nations. And Israel faces them for many of the same reasons we face them. You just happen to be a lot closer to them.
“Of course, no nation is perfect. But neither Israel’s existence nor its policies are responsible for the instability in the Middle East today. 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….
“For too many nations, it is still easier to scapegoat Israel than to emulate your success. It is easier to foster resentment and hatred of Israel’s democracy than it is to provide the same rights and freedoms to their own people.
“I believe that a Palestinian state will come, and one thing that will make it come is when the regimes that bankroll terrorism realise that the path to peace is accommodation, not violence….
“I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world. It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society, a vibrant democracy, a freedom-loving country with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary, an innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation.
“You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own. In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life.
“And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you….
“Thank you for having us, and may peace be upon Israel.”