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Israel: The Defining Speech of Harper's Career

Posted: 01/21/2014 11:28 am

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.

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  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Laureen Harper visit Za'atri Refugee Camp in Jordan on Friday, January 24, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, inspects an honour guard as he meets with the Prime Minister of Jordan Abdullah Ensour, left, in Amman, Jordan on Thursday, January 23, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reviews honor guards during his arrival at the royal palace in Amman, Jordan on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014.(AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with King Abdullah II at Al Husseinieh Palace in Amman, Jordan on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

  • Two cranes fly past as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper take a tour of the future site of the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre in Hula valley, Israel on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper take a tour of the future site of the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre in Hula valley, Israel on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper receives an honourary doctorate from Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper are given a tour of the synagogue by the franciscan monks at Capernaum, Israel on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper are accompanied by three nuns as they visit the ancient church of the beatitudes in Israel on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper touches the stones of the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Harper is on an official visit to the region. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen stand next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin and his wife Sara as they look at pictures of Jewish Holocaust victims at the Hall of Names on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 during their visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II. (AP Photo/Gali Tibbon, Pool)

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks out towards the city of Jerusalem over the Kidron Valley as he visits Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel, on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper will be visiting Israel, West Bank, and Jordan.

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Laureen visit Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel, on Sunday, January 19, 2014. Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem is seen in the background. While in the Middle East Harper will be visiting Israel, West Bank, and Jordan.

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper middle walks along the shore of the Sea of Galilee with Laureen and three franciscan monks as he visits Capernaum, Israel on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, take part in a joint press conference at Muqa'ata (Presidential Compound) in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday, January 20, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes a moment after placing a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, on Tuesday, January 21, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, sits with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, during a welcoming ceremony at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Harper is on an official visit to the region.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a welcoming ceremony at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Harper is on an official visit to the region.

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits the Church of Nativity during a visit to the West Bank City of Bethlehem on Monday, January 20, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Harper is on an official four-day visit to Israel.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Harper is on an official four-day visit to Israel.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen receive flowers from school children after their arrival at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Harper is on an official four-day visit to Israel.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen are greeted by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, center left, as they arrive at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Harper is on an official four-day visit to Israel.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is escorted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (in the back) as they inspect the honor guards during a welcome ceremony upon the former's arrival in Jerusalem on January 19 2014. Harper is on four days official visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2ndR), his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper (2ndL) and their spouses Sara Netanyahu and Laureen Harper (2ndL) take part in a welcome ceremony in Jerusalem on January 19, 2014. Harper began his first official visit to Israel, with Netanyahu hailing him as a 'great friend' of the Jewish state.

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks with Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, as he takes part in an official welcoming ceremony at Muqa'ata (Presidential Compound) in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday, January 20, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives to address the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, on Monday January 20, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses the Knesset on Monday, January 20, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen speaks at the Knesset, Israel's Parliament in Jerusalem, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk following a joint press conference in Jerusalem, Israel on Tuesday, January 21, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, Israel on Tuesday, January 21, 2014. While in the Middle East Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands with Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Harper is on an official visit to the region. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

  • MORE: Where In The World Is Stephen Harper?

  • FRANCE

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands on top of the Arc de Triomphe Saturday June 15, 2013 in Paris, France . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

  • SWITZERLAND

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes a moment to look at the Alps view from the shore line of Lake Geneva prior to holding a wrap up media conference following his participation at the Francophonie Summit in Montreux Switzerland on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010. Harper is in Europe from Oct. 21st to Oct. 26th to take part in the Francophonie Summit in Montreux, Switzerland and visit to Kyiv and Lviv Ukraine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • COLOMBIA

    EITAN ABRAMOVICH via Getty Images

  • GREECE

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Laureen tour the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, on Saturday, May 28, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • CHINA

    A panda reaches for Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a photo at the Chongqing Zoo in Chongqing, China, Saturday February 11, 2012. A pair of giant pandas born and raised in China are about to receive a Canadian welcome worthy of their name.Harper, who personally announced the loan deal during a trip to China last year, will be on hand to greet the new arrivals as they disembark from a highly customized plane trip. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

  • INDONESIA

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives to the Family Photo and Gala Dinner during the APEC summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on Monday, October 7, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • INDIA

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Laureen are given a tour by Priest Sundar Dixit during a visit to Sri Someshwara Swamy Temple in Bangalore, India on Thursday, November 8, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • CROATIA

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper is given a tour of the Zagreb Cathedral by Reverend Josip Kuhtic in Zagreb, Croatia Saturday May 8, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

  • SINGAPORE

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with Chinese opera singers as he stops for a quick photo while making his way to the Leaders Dinner at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-Operation Summit in Singapore Saturday Nov. 14, 2009. Harper is in Singapore to attend the APEC meetings before heading to India for a three day visit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

  • IRELAND

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stands with Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty (right) and Canada's ambassador to Ireland Loyola Hearn (left) take in the replica tall ship Jeanie Johnston Sunday June 16, 2013 in Dublin, Ireland. The replica ship, built in 2002, was based on the original ship built in Quebec City in 1847.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

  • HAITI

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves as he arrives by helicopter on board the Canadian frigit Athabasca stationed just outside the Hiatian capital, Port-au-Prince, Monday, Feb. 15, 2010. With Harper is Brigadier-General Guy Laroche (left) and Canadian Ambassador to Haiti Gilles Rivard. Prime Minister Harper will stay overnight on board the Canadian ship during his 2-day tour of earthquake stricken Haiti. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

  • POLAND

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper chats with museum director Piotr M.A. Cywinski as he gets a tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State museum in Auschwitz, Poland, Saturday, April 5, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tom Hanson

  • AFGHANISTAN

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks from an American Blackhawk helicopter for a tour of a Canadian forward operation base in Ma'Sum Ghar, Kandahar province Afghanistan Wednesday May 23, 2007.(CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson) CANADA

  • VIETNAM

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper follows China's President Hu Jintao (centre) and Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh Triet (right) on their way to the official photograph at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi Vietnam Sunday Nov 19, 2006.(CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson) CANADA

  • MEXICO

    Mexican President Vicente Fox shakes hands with Prime Minister Stephen Harper as United States President George W. Bush looks-on following a tour of the Mayan Pyramid in Chichen Itza Mexico Thursday March 30, 2006. The three leaders are having a North American summit in Cancun Mexico over two days.(CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson)

  • ENGLAND

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in London on Wednesday, June 6, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • MOROCCO

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reviews the Guard of Honour at the royal palace in Agadir, Morocco Thursday Jan.27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/POOL/Adrian Wyld

  • UKRAINE

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks with Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, left, upon his arrival to the Presidential Administrative Building in Kyiv, Ukraine on Monday, Oct. 25, 2010. Harper says he raised human rights issues in detail with Ukraine's President Yanukovych during talks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

 

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