By Shira Sorko-Ram
Close friends: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa. (Photo: APIMAGES)
There has never been a speech in Israel’s parliament like this one. Last January, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Israel and expressed his friendship as no other major world leader has ever done.
In fact, Harper has backed Israel with such fervor that some scholars and diplomats “rank it as the most dramatic shift in the history of postwar Canadian foreign policy.” (timesofisrael.com, 18Jan2014)
Before Harper was voted in as Prime Minister in 2006, Canada’s leadership tended to maintain a neutral posture towards Israel. Now Harper says the Jewish state will always have Canada as a friend.
He describes Israel as a light of freedom and democracy in what is otherwise a region of darkness.
WHY DOESN’T HARPER CRITICIZE ISRAEL?
Though he disagrees with Israel on a number of issues, such as the settlements, he refuses to criticize the Jewish state, saying he did not come to Israel to criticize the settlements, because that is what the whole world is doing. He pointed out that even when friendly nations praise Israel for some action, there is always a “but” that comes immediately afterward.
There are more than enough voices in the world slamming Israel and no reason why he should join the chorus, the Prime Minister said, unapologetic for his unabashed support of the Jewish state.
Talking to the media gathered from around the world in Jerusalem, Harper told them, “When I’m in Israel I’m asked to single out Israel. When I’m in the Palestinian Authority I’m asked to single out Israel, and half the other places around the world you ask me to single out Israel.” But, Harper added, “Let me emphasize that I am not here to single out Israel.”
CANADA ALWAYS VOTES FOR ISRAEL
The Prime Minister has not only talked the talk but he has walked the walk. He has sided openly with Israel in every one of its military operations since 2006, and has recently appointed a very pro-Israel ambassador to Israel.
His was the first country to cut aid when Hamas seized power in Gaza.
He was the first Western leader to withdraw from the second UN World Conference Against Racism, known as Durban II, saying that the Israel-bashing conference would “scapegoat the Jewish people.”
And Canada was one of only nine UN members (out of 193) that voted against the Palestinians becoming a non-member state. (A UN non-member state carries enormous influence and sway with this status.)
WHAT DOES HARPER GAIN?
Canada’s 375,000 Jews have been won over by Harper. Fifty-two percent of the Jewish population, historically liberal, voted for Harper in the last election.
However, observers agree that Harper has little to gain by standing with Israel. The Muslim population, three times the size of the Jewish population in Canada, gave Harper only 12 percent of their vote.
The U.N. Security Council rejected Canada’s bid to sit on the council. It was fairly obvious the principal reason was Canada’s strongly pro-Israel position.
So why does he do it? In his speech at Israel’s Knesset (see next article) Harper gave his reason: “It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s the moral thing to do. It’s a Canadian position of principle supported by the overwhelming majority of Canadians.” (Ibid., 20Jan2014)
As an Israeli journalist, Ron Csillag, put it, “Since his election in 2006, the Conservative prime minister has been full throated, unapologetic and seemingly indifferent to consequence in his support for Israel.” (Ibid.,18Jan2014)
Professor Henry Srebrnik, who got to know Harper when he was teaching at the University of Calgary, said, “I doubt there was any sudden epiphany when it comes to Israel, but more likely a growing, and probably somewhat religiously-based admiration for the Jewish state.” (newsxs.com 16Jan2014)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes a minute to pray at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site in Jerusalem’s Old City, after his speech to the Israeli Knesset in January. (Photo: APIMAGES)
Harper is Canada’s first evangelical prime minister in 50 years, and indeed, most observers accept that his faith plays some role in his support for Israel. Harper has credited his late father with teaching his three sons of the Jews’ biblical status as the chosen people.
As a young man, Harper was influenced by Christian thinkers such as C.S. Lewis and Malcolm Muggeridge. He joined the Christian and Missionary Alliance, “an evangelical denomination headquartered in Colorado that stresses the authority of the Bible and the physical healing powers of Jesus but does not have an especially strong Zionist component,” according to Csillag.
HARPER AND THE PALESTINIANS
As is representative of all true mature Christians, Harper cares for the Arab people. Since the failed Oslo peace accords were signed in 1993, Canada has donated $650 million to the Palestinians – $350 million of that on Harper’s watch. On this recent trip to Israel, he visited Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and committed Canada to another $66 million for the Palestinians over the next five years.
Harper hopes for two states, living side by side in peace. Don’t we all? Israelis overwhelmingly dream of such a peace. However, because of the promises of God who gave this land to Israel, and because of the goal of Islam to make Jerusalem its Palestinian capital, and to create a world under Sharia law, and with the Koran’s commands to kill the Jews, the chances of peace between Jew and Muslim are next to nil.
THE BLESSINGS OF A RIGHTEOUS RULER
We can unequivocally state that Canada is blessed and will be blessed because of the stand of its head of state. Of course, a nation is judged or blessed in many different areas. But Genesis 12:3 is one of the strongest blessings and curses in the entire Bible.
Secondly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a practicing Christian. And God has given him favor throughout his nation.
As you read the Prime Minister’s speech to the Knesset in the next article, just imagine if the president of the United States or the presidents and prime ministers of Europe were giving such a speech.
It is very possible that the Palestinian Islamists would see the game is up, and the whining and the violence could no longer push the Western nations to pressure and isolate Israel through the UN and the growing anti-Israel sanctions and boycotts. If the democratic nations stood with Israel as does Canada, there just might have been a chance for a peace settlement. But, alas, it is not to be.
Kingdoms and rulers come and go. But the Word of God is eternal:
The kings of the earth take their stand, And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed [Messiah] He who sits in the heavens laughs… Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury. Psalms 2:2-3
Israel will stand, but woe to those nations who in one way or another seek its demise. Today, there are very few world leaders (thank God there are some!) who know their Bible, and know their God, and know that the promised outpouring of God’s spirit on the nations involves the Jews returning to the Land of Israel and to the God of Israel through Messiah, the King of the Jews.
Those who do understand will be blessed.