A recent political exposé by Mark Kennedy appearing in the Ottawa Citizen answers some of the questions that many political aficionados have been asking for some time: “Why is Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper such a strong supporter of Israel?”
The question is not new and is not specific to Operation Protective Edge. However it is one which people have been asking since Harper first espoused his opinion regarding the Middle East conflict.
The support he has shown for Israel has been absolute and unwavering for the entirety of Harper’s career, so much so that it has spread to many others within the political and social hierarchy of Canada.
Kennedy stated Harper was “remarkably prescient” during speeches made early in his career both in 2003 and 2010, revealing that “he would one day turn Canadian foreign policy on its head and, perhaps most notably, make this country [Canada] the world’s most fervent ally of Israel.”
Harper took office shortly before the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and even at that early point in his term took a very strong pro-Israel, pro-democracy stance. His support and that of Canada has been voiced over and over again, and most fervently during Harper’s trip to Israel this past January.
For his support, Harper became the only foreign dignitary to have received the Key to the Knesset and who was termed as a true friend of Israel by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kennedy accurately explained that Harper stressed that conservatives understood “the notion that moral rules form a chain of right and duty, and that politics is a moral affair,” unlike the “modern left” — which had adopted a position of “moral neutrality”.
In a speech delivered at the Civitas group meeting in 2003, Harper stated, “We understand that the great geopolitical battles against modern tyrants and threats are battles over values. Conservatives must take the moral stand, with our allies, in favor of the fundamental values of our society, including democracy, free enterprise and individual freedom.”
Harper continues to support Israel in the current conflict and has even gone so far as to accuse Hamas of being responsible for all the bloodshed. Supporters praise him for his “clarity,” while critics castigate him for a simplistic approach to a complex issue.
Kennedy claims that what motivates Harper is the simplicity of right and wrong, of good and evil, and that while the motivation is simple, the question is still very complex.
“It’s about the complexity of the need to take the right side — Israeli democracy versus Islamist terror — in a geopolitical conflict that could some day have impact on Canada,” writes Kennedy. “Harper made it clear. He was going to emphatically choose a side.”
Canada for the past eight-and-a-half years has stood by the only real beacon of democracy in the Middle East and has made a clear choice to do so, often coming to odds with the United Nations and numerous Arab countries who choose to vilify Israel at every opportunity.
However, Canadian support of Israel is not altogether 100 percent altruistic. There is an element of self-preservation involved as well. In the famous speech that Harper made about the Holocaust on November 8, 2010, he said the following:
“Those who often begin by hating the Jews, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them. 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.”
Kennedy concludes that “morality and self-protection are the principles at the core of the Harper Doctrine,” and he is not wrong.
Harper fully believes that it is in Canada’s and the rest of the western world’s best interest to support Israel and to do what is morally right. After all, the only state in the Middle East that shares the same fundamental values which Canada’s conservative party stands for is Israel. And as Harper said in 2003, “Conservatives must take the moral stand, with our allies, in favour of the fundamental values of our society, including democracy, free enterprise and individual freedom.”
He said it the and has been doing it ever since.
So the question one must ask is not why is Harper such a strong supporter of Israel? But rather, why is it so shocking for the rest of the world to see a head-of-state keep his word, and act upon it according to his party’s, his country’s and his own moral imperative?