Israeli children greet the Canadian prime minister in January. (Photo: Haim Zach/Flash90) Israeli children greet the Canadian prime minister in January. (Photo: Haim Zach/Flash90)

Canada is making good on its prime minister’s promise to Israel: “Through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Government of Canada, spoke those words to thunderous applause during his historic address to the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) in January.

“Canada supports Israel fundamentally because it is right to do so,” Harper said as he became the first Canadian prime minister in history to address the Knesset.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressing the Knesset. (Photo: Flash90)

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressing the Knesset. (Photo: Flash90)

Now, as Israelis endure a barrage of missiles aimed at their homes, schools and playgrounds, they also face world opinion that is often biased against their efforts to defend themselves. Many world leaders have offered support while appearing to make a moral equivalence between terrorist attacks on civilians and the Israeli military’s targeted strikes against terrorist strongholds.

This is not the case with Canada, whose current government has spoken clearly and consistently in support of the Jewish state.

“Canada is unequivocally behind Israel,” Harper said on Sunday. “We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.”

Harper also urged world leaders to stand with Israel.

“Failure by the international community to condemn these reprehensible actions would encourage these terrorists to continue their appalling actions. Canada calls on its allies and partners to recognize that these terrorist acts are unacceptable and that solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict.”

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in response to an onslaught of missiles fired from Gaza into Israel. That same day, John Baird, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, called on the Fatah-Hamas unity government to stop Hamas’s “belligerent acts of terrorism.”

When Navi Pillay, UN high commissioner for human rights, suggested last week that Israel might be breaking international humanitarian and human rights laws, Baird issued a statement rejecting those claims.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird at  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office in April 2013. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes John Baird in April 2013. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Avoiding Moral Relativism

After Hamas rejected a ceasefire agreement on Tuesday, Baird said: “The scourge of terrorism must be wholly rejected by all peace-loving people around the world. We must never allow moral relativism to act as cover for the indiscriminate attacks on Israel we have seen over the past eight days.”

The Harper Government’s clear-cut stance appears not to be shared by Canada’s other major political parties.

“All possible steps must be taken to protect civilian life,” said Marc Garneau, foreign affairs critic for the Liberal Party of Canada, on July 8. “The only path to peace is through negotiation. All sides must demonstrate a real commitment to peace if this violence is to be quelled.”

The Buck Stops with Hamas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas heads the Fatah-Hamas unity government. (Photo: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas heads the Fatah-Hamas unity government. (Photo: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Paul Dewar, foreign affairs critic for the New Democratic Party of Canada, criticized the government’s position in a July 14 letter to Baird.

“The Canadian government should be working diplomatically, including through the United Nations, to support the resumption of a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement to the conflict,” wrote Dewar. “Unfortunately, your government’s recent statements do not support these objectives.”

Baird took to Twitter the next day, following Hamas’s rejection of the ceasefire deal. “The buck stops with Hamas,” he wrote.

Author: Sherry Miller
Staff Writer, United with Israel