Stephen Harper, now in his third term and eighth year as Canada’s prime minister, addressed the Israeli Knesset, and gave a speech for the ages.
It is worth reading in its entirety, but here is the portion that provoked a walkout by Arab MKs and a standing ovation from Prime Minister Netanyahu and other MKs. It was at the point where Harper stated that in much of the western world anti-Semitism 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.
The Arab MKs who left thus missed the following:
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.
Harper’s concluding thought was that 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 … 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.