Under PM Stephen Harper, Canada has been supportive of Israel for several years now. In the recent election, he and his Conservative party were rewarded in several ridings where they beat Liberal candidates, among them Jewish ones, thanks to Jewish voters. However, in Canada, Jews are far from a significant voting bloc so that it may actually be costing the Conservatives to be as supportive as they are of Israel. It probably cost Canada a seat on the UN Security Council last year, as has been acknowledged by Harper himself. It seems, however, that unlike many of the other leaders of the West, Harper is conducting his campaign not only because of political expediency, but a clear-eyed understanding of what is taking place around the world with respect to Israel and of the moral obligation of those who can do so to contend with this phenomenon. Here is what Harper said recently to the second annual conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism, held in Ottawa, Canada.
“But of course we must also combat anti-Semitism beyond our borders, an evolving, global phenomenon. And we must recognize, that while its substance is as crude as ever, its method is now more sophisticated.
Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so.
We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism. And like any free country, Israel subjects itself to such criticism â€” healthy, necessary, democratic debate. But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack â€” is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand. Demonization, double standards, delegitimization, the three D’s, it is the responsibility of us all to stand up to them.
And 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 easy thing to do is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of â€˜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. And friends, I say this 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 if we listen to it, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us.
Earlier I noted the paradox of freedom. It is freedom that makes us human. Whether it leads to heroism or depravity depends on how we use it.
As the spectre of anti-Semitism spreads, our responsibility becomes increasingly clear. We are citizens of free countries. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act. We are free citizens, but also the elected representatives of free peoples. We have a solemn duty to defend the vulnerable, to challenge the aggressor, to protect and promote human rights, human dignity, at home and abroad. None of us really knows whether we would choose to do good, in the extreme circumstances of the Righteous. But we do know there are those today who would choose to do evil, if they are so permitted. Thus, we must use our freedom now, and confront them and their anti-Semitism at every turn.