As if any further proof was necessary, Canada stepped forward once again and showed the world that it is Israel’s best friend. In taking the field on behalf of the Jewish people this time around, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper became the first country last week to sign the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism. (For the full text of the protocol click here.)
“The fact that this important document was crafted in Ottawa is further testimony to Canada’s leadership role in this vital global battle,” said Shimon Fogel of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, adding that the protocol is “groundbreaking” and “will serve as the basis of the renewed international effort against anti-Semitism.”
The protocol, drawn up by international parliamentarians in a series of conferences that began in Ottawa last November, is intended to combat the ongoing, worldwide threat of anti-Semitism. It is a reaffirmation of the “commitment to institute tangible measures” to counter the scourge of anti-Jewish hatred that is often disguised as criticism of Israel. The Ottawa document is meant to plainly distinguish between the two and does so in exemplary fashion.
“The criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be anti-Semitic,” the protocol states. “But singling Israel out for selective condemnation and opprobrium – let alone denying its right to exist or seeking its destruction – is discriminatory and hateful, and not saying so is dishonest.”
The Canadian government co-hosted last year’s initial conference along with the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism. The meeting “reaffirmed the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism as a template for fighting anti-Jewish prejudice.” In this spirit, Prime Minister Harper addressed the November gathering and, in plain language not often heard from a politician, especially on this subject, showed his great respect and support for the Jewish state as well as a high level of morality and insight lacking in most other world leaders.
“When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand,” said Harper. “…Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israel mob tell us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are in the longer term a threat to us all.”
Without directly naming the guilty party, Harper also added “a hateful ideology with global ambitions” is the “one which targets the Jewish homeland as a scapegoat” and is responsible for Jews being “savagely attacked around the world.” Hopefully, someone from the Obama administration was present and taking notes.
The Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism is just the latest manifestation of Harper’s siding with Israel on the international stage. Since coming to power in Ottawa in 2006, the Canadian prime minister and his government have garnered nothing but praise from Jewish organizations and advocates for Israel around the world. His government’s pro-Israeli policies have earned his country the unofficial title of being the Jewish state’s “greatest friend in the world” at a time when Israel is under constant attack internationally and sometimes inside Canada itself.
Harper’s principled stand vis-à-vis Israel, for example, saw Canada become the first country to withdraw from the anti-Semitic, United Nations-sponsored Durban II and Durban III conferences. Also in regard to the disgraceful anti-Israel bias at the UN, Canada was in the forefront of opposing in 2008 the appointment of Richard Falk as the UN’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories.
Falk, described as a Jewish American academic, has in the past compared Israel to Nazi Germany, a common and sick theme among Israel haters. Falk also authored an anti-Israeli article called ‘Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust’. It was also about this time that Canada was “the sole holdout” in a 46-1 UN vote for Israel dismantling its settlements.
The Harper government also successfully blocked Obama’s move to have the G-8 countries issue a press release at their meeting last May that would include the president’s suggestion that Israel should negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of returning to its 1967 borders. Obama had made the 1967 borders remark in a speech only a week earlier and obviously hadn’t planned on Canada’s opposition. Unfortunately, Canada was the only G-8 country to oppose the president’s press release plan.
But Harper’s unabashed support for Israel has come with a price. For its pro-Israeli stance, Canada lost its bid last fall to Portugal for a non-permanent seat on the powerful United Nations Security Council. It was the first time since 1945 that Canada, an UN-founding member, had not won a Security Council seat after having been elected in every previous decade. To his credit, Harper had refused to “water down” his pro-Israel policy to curry the support of the UN’s despots and Muslim bloc to secure the seat.
While the animosity of anti-Israel states towards Canada at the UN could be expected, the Obama administration’s behaviour concerning the Canadian attempt to win the Security Council seat was not. The American UN delegation did nothing to help Canada obtain the seat, reportedly on the instructions of Ambassador Susan Rice, according to Richard Grenfell, a former US delegation press officer.
“US State Department insiders say that US Ambassador Susan Rice not only didn’t campaign for Canada’s election but instructed American diplomats not to get involved in the weekend leading up to the heated contest,” Grenfell stated.
But many Canadians were pleased with the UN’s anti-Canada vote result and viewed their country’s rejection with a sense of pride. These Canadians view the UN as a morally bankrupt organization containing petty tyrants whose only goals are to destroy Israel and drain as much money from the West as possible, which they can then steal, since they probably already have stolen everything of value in their own countries. So rather than any embarrassment or loss of face at failing to get a Security Council seat, such Canadians felt honoured to have been turned down by such a disreputable bunch.
Stephen Harper’s unqualified support for Israel stems from his deep Christian convictions, like the other staunch advocates for Israel in North America, the fundamentalist Christians in the United States. Harper’s province, Alberta, is noted in Canada for its strong conservative and Christian heritage. Alberta’s provincial Conservative Party, for example, has held power in Edmonton uninterruptedly since 1971 and just elected its first woman leader.
It is from this background that the Harper government’s unbending moral convictions regarding Israel and other major issues of importance to Canadians derive. And unusual for this day and age, one can be sure the Harper government will not back down on these moral principles as long as it is in power. The Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism is just another proof of that.