Vows Loyalty to Israel in Speech to Knesset
“Israel is the only country in the Middle East which has long
anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule
2 Minute Snip of Harper
Speech - Full version below.
Minister Stephen Harper today delivered the following remarks in
an address to the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, in Jerusalem:
“Thank you very much.
“Thank you Mr. Speaker, Prime Minister, Leader of the
Opposition, Chief Justice, Ministers and Members of the Knesset,
distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
“And thank you for inviting me to visit this remarkable country,
and especially for the opportunity to address the Knesset.
“It truly is a great honour.
“And I also thank you for the honour of the key to the Knesset.
“So now I feel I can come and go whenever I choose.
“And if I may, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my wife Laureen and the
entire Canadian delegation, let me just begin by thanking the
Government and people of Israel for the warmth of your
“You have made us feel extremely welcome.
“You have made us feel immediately at home.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Canada and Israel are the greatest of
friends, and the most natural of allies.
“And, with your indulgence, I’d like to offer a reflection upon
what makes the relationship between Canada and Israel special
“Because the relationship between us is very strong.
“This friendship between us is rooted in history, nourished by
shared values, and it is intentionally reinforced at the highest
levels of commerce and government as an outward expression of
strongly held inner convictions.
“There has, for example, been a free trade agreement in place
between Canada and Israel for many, many years, an agreement
that has already proved its worth.
“The elimination of tariffs on industrial products, and some
foodstuffs, has led to a doubling in the value of trade between
“But this only scratches the surface of the economic potential
of this relationship and I look forward to soon deepening and
broadening our mutual trade and investment goals.
“As well, our military establishments share information and
“This has also been to our mutual benefit.
“For example, during Canada’s mission to Afghanistan, the use of
Israeli-built reconnaissance equipment saved the lives of many
“All such connections, and I can mention many more – science and
technology – all built strong bridges between us.
“However, to truly understand the special relationship between
Israel and Canada, one must look beyond trade and institutions,
to the personal ties of friendship and kinship.
“Jews have been present in Canada for more than 250 years.
“In generation after generation, by hard work and perseverance,
Jewish immigrants, often starting with nothing, have greatly
“Today, there are nearly 350,000 Canadians who share with you
their heritage and their faith.
“They are proud Canadians.
“But having met literally thousands of members of this
community, I can tell you this:
“They are also immensely proud of what the people of Israel have
“Of your courage in war, of your generosity in peace, and of the
bloom that the desert has yielded under your stewardship.
“Laureen and I share that pride.
“We share that pride and the understanding that what has been
achieved here has occurred in the shadow of the horrors of the
“The understanding that it is right to support Israel, because
after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve
their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in
“Let me repeat that: Canada supports Israel fundamentally
because it is right to do so.
“This by the way 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.
“On many occasions, Canadians have gone even so far as to bleed
and die to defend the freedoms of others in far-off lands.
“To be clear, we have also periodically made terrible mistakes.
“As in the refusal of our Government in the 1930s to ease the
plight of Jewish refugees.
“But, as a country, at the great turning points of history,
Canada has consistently chosen often to our great cost, to stand
with others who oppose injustice and to confront the dark forces
of the world.
“It is, thus, a Canadian tradition to stand for what is
principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or
“But, I would argue, and as you know Prime Minister I have
argued, that support today for the Jewish State of Israel is
more than a moral imperative.
“It is also a matter of strategic importance, also a matter of
our own, long-term interests.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I said a moment ago that the special
friendship between Canada and Israel is rooted in shared values.
“Indeed, Israel is the only country in the Middle East which has
long anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy and the
rule of law.
“And these are not mere notions.
“They are the things that over time and against all odds, have
proven to be over and over again the only ground in which human
rights, political stability, and economic prosperity, may
“These values are not proprietary.
“They do not belong to one people or one nation.
“Nor are they a finite resource.
“On the contrary, the wider they are spread, the stronger they
“Likewise, when they are threatened anywhere, they are
“And who threatens them, or more precisely, what today threatens
the societies that embrace such values and the progress they
“Those who scorn modernity, those who loathe the liberty of
others, and those who hold the differences of peoples and
cultures and religions in contempt.
“Those who, often begin by hating the Jews.
“But, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not like
“Those forces, which have threatened the State of Israel every
single day of its existence, and which, as 9-11 graphically
showed us today, threaten all of us.
“And so, we either stand up for our values and our interests
here in Israel, stand up for the existence of a free, democratic
and distinctively Jewish state, or the retreat of our values and
our interests in the world will begin.
“Now ladies and gentlemen, just as we refuse to retreat from our
values, so we must also uphold the duty to advance them.
“And our commitment as Canadians to what is right, fair and just
is a universal one.
“It applies no less to the Palestinian people than it does to
the people of Israel.
“Just as we unequivocally support Israel’s right of self-defence,
so too Canada has long supported a just and secure future for
the Palestinian people.
“And, I believe we share with Israel a sincere hope that the
Palestinian people and their leaders will choose a viable,
democratic Palestinian state, committed to living peacefully
alongside the Jewish State of Israel.
“As you, Prime Minister, have said, when Palestinians make peace
with Israel, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a
Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations, it will
be the first.
“Sadly, we have yet to reach that point.
“But, when that day comes, and come it must, I can tell you that
Israel may be the first to welcome a sovereign Palestinian
state, but Canada will be right behind you.
“Now ladies and gentlemen even firm support doesn’t mean that
allies and friends will agree on all issues all of the time.
“As you and I know Prime Minister, no state is beyond legitimate
questioning or criticism.
“Indeed, Israel as a democratic state makes such criticism a
part of your national life.
“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 that 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
“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
“Now friends I understand that 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 just, quite simply, weak and wrong.
“Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where
that kind of moral relativism today runs rampant.
“And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of a much
more sinister notion 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
“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
“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 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
“Now think about that statement.
“Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that.
“A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law,
founded so that Jews can flourish as Jews and seek shelter from
the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history.
“That is condemned, and it is condemned in the masked language
“Friends, that 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 to a new generation.
“Now of course friends, 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 exist,
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 singled out,
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 65 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, we Canadians 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.
“It will be your destruction.
“The truth that Canada understands is that many of the hostile
forces Israel faces are faced by all western nations.
“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
the sectarian violence and the fears of religious minorities,
especially Christians, and of the current domestic turmoil in so
“So what are we to do?
“Most importantly, we must deal with the world as we find it.
“The threats in this region are real, deeply rooted and deadly,
and the forces of progress often anaemically weak.
“For too many nations, it is still easier to scapegoat Israel
than to emulate your success.
“It is easier for them 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 realize that the path to peace is accommodation, not
“Which brings me to the Government of Iran.
“Late last year, the world announced a new approach to diplomacy
with the government in Tehran.
“Canada has long held the view that every diplomatic measure
should be taken to ensure that regime never obtains a nuclear
“We therefore appreciate the earnest efforts of the five
permanent members of the Security Council and Germany.
“Canada will evaluate the success of this approach not on the
merit 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
“And should our hopes not be realized, should the present
agreement prove ephemeral, Canada will be a strong voice in the
world for renewed sanctions.
“Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude with this thought.
“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 society.
“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 own national life.
“And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with
“Thank you, friends.
“I know I should quit right there.
“You’ve been very generous with your time and attention.
“Laureen and I, and I know the entire delegation, thank you for
your tremendous hospitality.
“Once again, thank you.
“Thank you for having us and may peace be upon Israel.”
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