(Photo: Stephen Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. PMO photo)
FIRST of all, let me succinctly state some facts that I consider indisputable before I elaborate.
One, Israel has every right to exist as an independent state – and the United States and the UN must guarantee that.
Two, the Palestinians have every right to a sovereign state – without any interference from Israel and without losing any territory to illegal Israeli settlements.
Three, denial of the Holocaust (“the mass murder or genocide of approximately six million Jews during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, throughout the German Reich and German-occupied territories,” as the Wikipedia states) is not only ridiculous – it is IMMORAL!
NOW, let’s start with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s assertion while addressing the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) this week that the ‘new anti-Semitism’ “targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.”
That really wasn’t anything brilliant – or new!
And to make sure that he himself wasn’t viewed as a bigot, Harper qualified that by noting that criticism of Israeli government policy isn’t “necessarily anti-Semitic.”
Though Harper avoided stating where he differed from the Israeli government policy at a press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bluntly told the media that the two countries did not agree about Israeli settlements in disputed territory, adding: “I guarantee you that’s the case.”
Harper’s firm stand for Israel is commendable – BUT the WAY in which he goes about it is NOT!
No wonder it didn’t impress the Israeli media.
CBC’s Sasa Petricic noted: “But beyond Official Israel, Harper’s impact here has been minimal; his visit barely creeping onto the front page of any Israeli newspaper, especially the big Hebrew-language ones, or on radio or TV,” adding: “Far less coverage than other visiting leaders have had, including France’s François Hollande, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and, of course, U.S. President Barack Obama.”
He pointed out that the left-leaning Haaretz’s diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid wrote: “The impression Harper left … was that he is a friend of Benjamin Netanyahu more than he is a true friend of Israel; that his support for the policies of the government of Israel is blind.”
Of course, we all know that Harper was PLAYING POLITICS to impress the Jews back home – they can help him win seats in some ridings and Harper will need that to form another majority government, especially with the popularity of federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
LOSS OF CREDIBILITY
HARPER has actually lost credibility in the Middle East because of his highly biased stand regarding Israel – one that really doesn’t help Israel.
I have written about the Israeli-Palestinian issue quite often in the past. In May of 2011, I pointed out: “Canada’s highly biased pro-Israel stand under Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been ludicrous and has even appalled the leaders of the other Western nations. But then, Canada hardly matters on the international stage as it found out when it failed to win a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council last year  – the first time in over five decades that we lost such a campaign! Of course, Harper tried to explain away his humiliation in terms of principles. What a joke!”
Referring to Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in 2011 in which he asserted that an undivided Jerusalem must remain the capital of Israel and the Jewish settlements east of Jerusalem must be ceded to Israel and that Israel would be “generous” on the size of a Palestinian state, I wrote: “Netanyahu needs to give his arrogant head a good whack and wake up to international realities. Even the world’s only superpower, the U.S., cannot dictate to the whole world – there are LIMITS TO ITS POWER and the issue of Palestine can cause the Americans a lot of grief. That is precisely why Obama and the European leaders want to see the Palestinian issue settled in a sensible and realistic manner.”
I noted that a settlement “also calls for a lot of sensibleness and humility from the Palestinians as well, especially Hamas, whose terrorist tactics have given Israel the opportunity time and time again to retaliate out of all proportion. Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, has shown some realism by accepting a deal brokered by Egypt to end its four-year feud with the rival Palestinian organization Fatah, which controls the West Bank. But that realism has to be extended further. One clue was provided by British Prime Minister David Cameron when he said that the two united Palestinian factions had to “accept some of what the people they are going to negotiate with desperately need” and “that, in the end, is why the peace process in Northern Ireland was successful because both sides had some understanding of what the other side needed for some dignity and some peace.”
“The Palestinians, too, must recognize Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state – and the United States and the European nations must guarantee that. Indeed, the United Nations must make it clear that any attack on Israel will be met with DEVASTATING RETALIATION.”
Indeed, after Europe and the Christian churches failed to prevent the horrendous Holocaust, they have a MORAL OBLIGATION to ensure the safety of the state of Israel.
OBSESSION WITH ARMAGEDDON
AMONG the members of Harper’s delegation to Israel were those of Christian evangelical organizations. Many wonder why these Christians are so crazy about the state of Israel.
Two vital factors in this issue are the staggering power of the Jewish lobby in the U.S. and the Christian fundamentalists’ obsession with the idea of Armageddon (end of the world) being connected with the land of Israel and Jerusalem.
A few years ago, the internationally respected magazine The Economist of London wrote about how the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) brought more than 6,000 activists to Washington for its annual policy conference and how the four most powerful people on Capitol Hill (from the House and the Senate) as well as then-Vice President Dick Cheney addressed them.
The article noted: “The lobbyists had every reason to feel proud of their work. Congress has more Jewish members than ever before: 30 in the House and a remarkable 13 in the Senate. … Both parties are competing with each other to be the “soundest” on Israel.”
[A report in November 2012 stated: “The next Congress will have 10 Jews in the Senate and 22 in the House of Representatives, a decline from the 112th Congress.”]
The religious angle is very well brought out in the book, “A History on the End of the World” (2006) by Jonathan Kirsch, a famous American writer of national bestsellers on religious matters who is also an adjunct professor on the faculty of New York University – discusses the last book of the Bible – REVELATION, from which the famous concept of ARMAGEDDON comes. (Incidentally, I am a Christian and I consider myself an expert on the Bible.)
The book contains many deep observations especially about how different fundamentalist Christian groups view Revelation and Armageddon and how even Presidents have been influenced by it – which can be very scary.
Kirsch’s well documented book states in one place: “Christian Zionists, in fact, tend to regard the prospect of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours as an obstacle to the second coming of Jesus Christ and, therefore, the work of the Devil. Peaceful coexistence between Arab and Jews, as they see it, would only hold back the hands on “Israel’s prophecy clock” by postponing the fateful day when Israel is restored to its expansive biblical boundaries and the Jewish people return en masse to their homeland.”
One of the ironies highlighted in the book: “Still, at least some Jewish observers are willing to comment on the strange bedfellowship of fundamentalist Christians and Jews. “This is a grim comedy of mutual condescension,” Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic, told the New York Times. “The evangelical Christians condescend to the Jews by offering their support before they convert or kill them. And the conservative Jews condescend to Christians by accepting their support while believing that their eschatology is nonsense. This is a fine example of the political exploitation of religion.””
To put it more simply to those not familiar with Christianity, these fundamentalist or evangelical Christians believe that all Jews will finally become Christians and those who do not convert will die when Jesus comes again to Jerusalem!
Wily Israeli politicians fully exploit these beliefs while privately mocking them.
– RATTAN MALL