Canadian Prime Minister Harper on Israel

I think President Obama has been better to Israel than his critics acknowledge, and has been very pro-Israel by any standard except perhaps that of the prior two presidents, who were the most pro-Israel of any American presidents. But it’s hard to imagine him giving a speech like this:

“It is a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular,” he said to the Israeli parliament.

But “support today for the Jewish state of Israel is more than a moral imperative. It is also of strategic importance, also a matter of our own long-term interests,” he elaborated, praising Israel’s record on human rights and economic freedom. “Israel is the only country in the Middle East which has long anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. These are not mere notions. They are the things that, over time and against all odds, have proven to be the only ground in which human rights, political stability, and economic prosperity, may flourish. These values are not proprietary; they do not belong to one nation or one people. Nor are they a finite resource; on the contrary, the wider they are spread, the stronger they grow.”

“Likewise, when they are threatened anywhere, they are threatened everywhere,” Harper continued. And “what today threatens the societies that embrace such values and the progress they nurture? Those who scorn modernity, who loathe the liberty of others, and who hold the differences of peoples and cultures in contempt. Those who often begin by hating the Jews, but, 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, 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, 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.”

“Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state,” Harper said. “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.”

UPDATE: Here is the full text of the speech.