January 20, 2014 -- Jerusalem -- AJC Executive Director David Harris lauded Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for delivering a memorable speech before the Knesset, Israel's parliament.
"Prime Minister Harper has conveyed with exceptional clarity the moral grounding of Canada's consistent support for Israel," said Harris, who will see the Canadian leader at an event tomorrow night hosted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Israel and the Jewish people have few better, more courageous, and more principled friends than the Prime Minister,” said Harris. “In a world too often consumed by double standards, hypocrisy, and apathy, Prime Minister Harper stands out for his defense of what's right, and not simply what's convenient or expedient."
Harper, on a four-day visit to Israel, with a large delegation of ministers and business leaders, is the first Canadian premier to speak before the Israeli parliament.
"Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so,” said Harper. "Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends, and the most natural of allies.”
Harper spoke about the democratic values Canada and Israel share, and the common threats they face. “Support today for the Jewish State of Israel is more than a moral imperative. It is also of strategic importance,” Harper said.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East, he noted, that has rooted itself in the ideals of “freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.”
He warned that the "forces which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence...threaten us all.”
And he cautioned that some criticism of Israeli policies is "the new anti-Semitism. It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel."
The Canadian leader conveyed a deep appreciation for the security challenges confronting Israel.
“If you act to defend yourselves, you will suffer widespread condemnation, over and over again,” Harper said. “But should you fail to act, you alone will suffer the consequence of your inaction and that consequence will be final, your destruction."
Harper was warmly greeted upon arrival in Israel by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who called him "a great friend of Israel." In meetings with Netanyahu, and, separately, with Palestinian Authority President Abbas, Harper expressed support for a negotiated two-state solution.
"We share with Israel a sincere hope that the Palestinian people and their leaders will choose a viable, democratic, Palestinian state, committed to living peacefully alongside the Jewish State of Israel,” said Harper.