Harper on Israel:
Is the Prime Minister mentally sound?
Murray DobbinBy Murray Dobbin
November 10, 2010

Watching and listening to [Canadian Prime Minister] Stephen Harper's bizarre and unnerving speech about anti-Semitism and Israel raises the question as to whether or not the man is mentally fit to be prime minister.

In effect, Harper has taken the position of being Israel's defender no matter what — in other words, this commitment comes before his duty as prime minister, before his duty to represent Canada's interests abroad, before his role of elected representative. Harper is a defender of Israel no matter the consequences for Canada. He stated:

"[As] long as I am Prime Minister, whether it is at the United Nations, the Francophonie, or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand whatever the cost. I say this, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tell us all too well if we listen to it, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us."

His dedication to that country supersedes his commitment to his own. That would be disturbing enough if Harper were merely a private citizen. But as prime minister it is beyond the pale and it isn't much of a stretch to suggest it borders on the betrayal of Canada and certainly Canadian interests. For what does it mean that Harper will defend Israel no matter the consequences for Canada?

Harper referred in his speech to "the anti-Israeli mob". I have to presume here that he is referring to all the Arab and Muslim countries which regularly criticize Israel at the UN. But, of course, not only them. UN resolutions criticizing Israel are regularly supported by virtually every country with the exception of Israel, the U.S. and — sometimes — El Salvador. Is the whole of the UN membership part of the "mob"?

Harper's disturbing performance sends a clear message: Canada is prepared to sacrifice relations with all other countries if it has to defend Israel. Coming off the rejection of Canada for a Security Council seat, Harper deems determined to isolate himself even more, and Canada along with him.

Harper's speech was given to the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism an international pro-Zionist group whose sole task is to redefine anti-Semitism to mean virtually any criticism of Israel. It claims members from 40 countries and is holding its second conference — the first was held last year in London, England. The Canadian contingent is called the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA).

It is unofficial but had members from the four major Canadian federal parties until the Bloc members quit the organization last spring citing the "the inequality of opinions presented before the Coalition," and "the refusal of the Steering Committee to hear groups with opposing viewpoints."

Harper expressed the position of the organization perfectly — a position designed to counteract the global effort to de-legitimize the Israeli apartheid state. He said:

"Harnessing disparate anti-American, anti-Semitic and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel...We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is."

This declaration of the "new anti-Semitism" is pure hogwash and everyone stating it or using it to attack critics of Israel knows it. For one thing, thousands of North American and European Jews regularly attack Israel's brutal treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank. Of course, Zionists refer to these humanitarians as "Jew-hating Jews," a clever bit of racist spin but far from the mark.

Israel's flunkies have to come up with something to attack because the evidence is clear — actual incidents of anti-Semitism have been on the decline for years. Something had to be done to make it look otherwise. Harper claims anti-Semites, instead of actually targeting Jews here, attack them by criticizing Israel. The pretzel-like twisting of that argument is obvious. We are being asked to believe that thousands upon thousands of Canadian human rights activists are closet anti-Semites and have to limit their anti-Semitism to attacking Israel.

Like most of Israel's hard-line supporters, Harper claims that no one is saying Israel can't be criticized: "Israel, like any country, may be subjected to fair criticism".

But in fact Harper is saying Israel cannot be criticized. He has had ample opportunity to make "fair criticism" but virtually never does. (The single instance I am aware of was a very mild rebuke over continued construction of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.) He has never mentioned the brutal assault on Gaza which killed over 1,200 civilians, [he has] called the wanton destruction of Lebanon "a measured response", and backs Israel in all of its patently phony "commitments" to negotiating peace while deliberately taking positions that no Palestinian leader could possibly agree to.

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism was originally going to issue a report last March. Then it was May. It was been delayed several more times and was supposed to be released at the meetings being held this week. It still hasn't surfaced. On the organization's website it still says "...we will be presenting a report of its findings in the late spring of 2010." The group seems to have been inactive for sometime.

It was expected to call on the government to formally criminalize criticism of Israel. But perhaps its authors are beginning to realize that a document calling for the criminalization of free speech might not be the brightest idea they have ever come up with. Making a speech about the "new anti-Semitism" is one thing. Having it in a report, on permanent display for the whole world to see, is another. Personally, I hope they publish it. It might just be the last thing they do.

Copyright 2010 Murray Dobbin

This article originally appeared on the website of rabble.ca.

Murray Dobbin is a guest senior contributing editor for rabble.ca. Murray has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for 40 years. A board member and research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, he has written five studies for the centre including examinations of charter schools, and "Ten Tax Myths." Murray has been a columnist for the Financial Post and Winnipeg Free Press and contributes guest editorials to the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and other Canadian dailies. He writes a regular "State of the Nation" column for the on-line journal TheTyee.ca which is published simultaneously on rabble.ca. His blog is murraydobbin.ca.

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