Prime Minster Stephen Harper in an historic speech, before the Israeli Knesset concluded with these stirring words:
“In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents the 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.”
I predict that this amazing speech will be forever known as Harper’s “Fire and Water” speech.
I also predict that this speech will be considered Harper’s greatest and most memorable speech of his political career and one of the most memorable speeches given by any Canadian prime minister domestically and internationally.
Anywhere. Any time.
This is Harper at his best — thoughtful, sensitive, principled, hard-nosed, tough, supremely confident and fiercely independent of morally relativistic and conventional international opinion. Harper is finally, after all these years, genuinely and sincerely speaking from his heart and soul. From the very marrow of his being.
For those, who have been following Harper for years, admiring him for his discipline and control. But all the time wondering, what drives this very controlling and controlled man. Well, for a brief but very memorable historic moment, we experienced the real Harper unplugged.
And we Canadians, we proud patriots, we believers in the ideals of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law — Harper friggin’ nailed his speech. And with that speech, nailed his place in Canadian history.
Harper delivered. Oh man, did he deliver the goods. Big time!
Contrast Harper with the seemingly more charismatic President Obama.
Superficially, Obama’s rhetoric soars and inspires.
Recall Obama’s First Inaugural speech in which he proclaimed, ” hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”
That was a brilliant and inspiring speech. Obama was to be the great unifier. But Obama’s soaring rhetoric has never matched his actual deeds as President. Under Obama, the United States is as divided and polarized as ever.
Obama has been a disappointment, all hat and no cattle, all sizzle but no steak.
On the other hand, until his recent Israeli speech, Harper was all substance on the Israeli file, and little inspiration.
As reported by CBC, since Harper has been Prime Minister, his support of Israel has been strong, consistent and unwavering.
In 2006, during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, when many nations criticized Israel for using disproportionate force, Harper defended the Israeli response as “measured.”
Under Harper, Canada became the first country to review aid to the Palestinians following the parliamentary elections in 2006 that saw Hamas come to power. It also became the first country to boycott the UN anti-racism conferences of 2009 and 2011, accusing those conferences of being forums to criticize Israel.
Last year, Harper opposed all the other G8 members in France regarding the G8’s position on proposed Palestinian/Israeli peace talks and persuaded the G8 to soften its position re Israel and pre-1967 borders.
Whenever the UN has tried to propose blatantly anti-Israeli resolutions, Canada under Harper has vigorously opposed such resolutions, in contrast to previous Canadian governments which weakly abstained.
Unlike Obama, Harper’s stirring rhetoric in the Knesset has been matched by hardcore action and substantive support for the continued existence of Israel, notwithstanding that Harper has faced harsh criticism domestically and tremendous opposition internationally.
Here are a few of my favorite highlights from Harper’s speech.
“The understanding that it is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland.
Now let me repeat that: Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so.
This is a very Canadian trait, to do something for no reason other than it is right, even when no immediate reward for, or threat to, ourselves is evident….
But, I would argue, 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….
… I said a moment ago that the special friendship between Canada and Israel is rooted in shared values.
….. 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.
Likewise, when they are threatened anywhere, they are threatened everywhere.. …..
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.”
According to Harper, Israel is in the front lines against the ongoing war against democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Harper does not believe that this is only Israel’s fight. It is Canada’s interests to stand with Israel.
Because when Israel is under attack, the values and interests of Canada are or will be under attack as well.
This is a brave, courageous speech, by a very courageous and strong-minded Canadian leader.
As Conservative leader and prime minister, Harper has been very effective. His achievements, impressive. But history will cite Harper’s principled defense of the state of Israel, both in deeds and now in inspirational words as to why Harper will be remembered as one of Canada’s most impressive and independently-minded prime ministers.