Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Israel

In an interview in 2008 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his fears that “anti-Israeli sentiment, [is] really just a thinly disguised veil for good old-fashioned anti-Semitism, which I think is completely unacceptable.” 

On November 8, 2010 Mr. Harper delivered a speech in Ottawa, Ontario at a conference on combating antisemitism.  His views are a refreshing change in a world that idly stands by as anti-Israel and antisemitic comments are regularly hurled.

In the speech, the Prime Minister reminded his audience that  

Remembering the Holocaust is not merely an act of historical recognition. It must also be an understanding and an undertaking. An understanding that the same threats exist today. And an undertaking of a solemn responsibility to fight those threats.

Jews today in many parts of the world and many different settings are increasingly subjected to vandalism, threats, slurs, and just plain, old-fashioned lies.

Let me draw your attention to some particularly disturbing trends.

Anti-Semitism has gained a place at our universities, where at times it is not the mob who are removed, but the Jewish students under attack. And, under the shadow of a hateful ideology with global ambitions, one which targets the Jewish homeland as a scapegoat, Jews are savagely attacked around the world – such as, most appallingly, in Mumbai in 2008.

We have seen all this before. And we have no excuse to be complacent. In fact we have a duty to take action. And for all of us, that starts at home.

In Canada, we have taken a number of steps to assess and combat anti-Semitism in our own country. But of course we must also combat anti-Semitism beyond our borders, - an evolving, global phenomenon. And we must recognize, that while its substance is as crude as ever, its method is now more sophisticated.

Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so.

We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism. And like any free country, Israel subjects itself to such criticism – healthy, necessary, democratic debate.

Stephen Harper says he will stand up to anti-Israel rhetoric no matter the political cost.

Thus, Mr. Harper explains that “[a] democratic state like Canada cannot be neutral as between a democratic state and a terrorist organization.  There is no honest broker between those two[.]”   He refuses to accept a “moral ambivalence on these issues.”

Harper insists that “…history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israel mob tells us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are in the longer term a threat to all of us.”  He had expounded on this idea in 2008 when he stated that the Canadian government “believes that those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada, because, as the last world war showed, hate-fuelled bigotry against some is ultimately a threat to us all, and must be resisted wherever it may lurk.”

Thus, the prime minister “stressed that Canada would continue to defend Israel, because it is a beacon of freedom and democracy …where those values are [constantly] under attack.”

Oh, that we could hear such sentiments from Obama. 

Eileen can be reached at





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