Harper’s speech was historic because it was the first ever by a Canadian prime minister to the Knesset. It was just as historic for Israel in that it was the first time two Arab MKs – Members of the Knesset – not only heckled Harper, they rudely walked out on a visiting foreign dignitary.
National PostPrime Minister Stephen Harper warned that a dangerous new form of anti-Semitism has emerged and said the globe has a moral and strategic objective to rally around Israel as a haven for Jews. Harper said Canada finds it “deplorable” that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of Israel’s existence. “Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable.”
But, of course, there has never been a speech to the Knesset like Harper’s speech. It was blunt. Angry. Honest, perhaps, to a fault. Full of admiration for Israel. And full of scorn for those in Canada and around the world who organize academic boycotts and Israel apartheid rallies. “Quite simply, weak and wrong,” he called those fools.
Even as Harper delivered the message in a historic speech to the Knesset, Israel’s legislature of elected politicians, two Knesset members heckled him, then walked out. One was Arab-Israeli politician Ahmad Tibi, who has in the past called on Canadians to boycott companies and products linked to Israeli towns built in the West Bank and other occupied lands.
In response to the brief protest, the rest of the Knessett repeatedly and enthusiastically applauded Harper. In a wide-ranging address that was bluntly worded, Harper made it clear why his government has formulated a pro-Israel policy. “Those who often begin by hating the Jews, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them,” said Harper.
“Those forces, which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence and which, today, as 9-11 graphically showed us, threaten us all.” “And so either we stand up for our values and our interests here in Israel and stand up for the existence of a free, democratic and distinctively Jewish state or the retreat of our values and our interests in the world will begin.”