Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will make history as the first Prime Minister of Canada to address the Knesset – Israel’s Parliament.
By: Atara Beck, Senior Writer, United with Israel
The Mount of Olives in the Old City of Jerusalem was the first stop made by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen upon arrival in Israel Sunday late afternoon.
At an official ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, along with political leaders and influential personalities from across the political spectrum, warmly welcomed the Canadian leader and his delegation of cabinet ministers, members of parliament and community leaders, recognizing him as the best friend of the Jewish state.
“I have to say, Stephen, that you are a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. I’m not just saying that – I mean it deeply from the bottom of my heart and I speak for all the people of Israel,” Netanyahu stated.
“This world is often cynical and hypocritical, and you have shown great moral leadership,” he added. “When it comes to fighting terrorism, you know that there cannot be any politically correct double talk, but only unequivocal condemnation and united international action. When it comes to anti-Semitism, you have stood up unabashedly at the side of Israel and the entire Jewish people, I think at the side of decency and fairness to everyone: Jews and non-Jews alike. And when it comes to Iran’s repeated calls for Israel’s annihilation and its unrelenting development of nuclear weapons – you and Canada have stood unflinchingly on the right side of history.
“And finally, when it comes to peace, you recognize that a genuine peace, a lasting peace, must be based on mutual recognition and sound security arrangements on the ground. I think in all this and in so many other things, you have shown courage, clarity and conviction. And in standing up for the truth, your voice, Stephen, has been an indispensable one.”
Harper, in thanking Netanyahu, said that his delegation to Israel includes “not just Jewish Canadians, but Canadians from across the spectrum.”
Today (Monday), Harper – after visiting Bethlehem and and meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah – will make history by becoming the first Canadian prime minister to address the Knesset – Israel’s Parliament.
PRO-CANADA RALLY PLANNED
A pro-Canada rally is being planned several blocks away from the Knesset, which was initiated by Canadian-Israeli Danny Hershtal, a former Torontonian. Grassroots Canadian-Israelis have been discussing the Harper visit for the past several weeks through Facebook and other social media and are eager to show appreciation to the Canadian prime minister, as well as his accompanying cabinet ministers and parliamentarians, for their steadfast support of the only democracy in the Middle East. This consensus among Canadian-Israelis includes individuals of diverse political stripes. Not all had been supporters of the governing Conservative party, but almost all, with very few exceptions, are filled with gratitude for the PM’s understanding of Israel’s situation and, first and foremost, the existential threat that it faces from Iran.
Many have been trying to find a way inside private receptions where the Canadian leader will be feted, but not for social-climbing purposes or for the thrill of being in the same room with so many dignitaries from their native country. Rather, they are truly itching to shake the hand of the Canadian leader who, several times, has displayed the courage to raise an often-lone voice among the nations of the world in defense of the Jewish state.
As expressed by Mark Adler, a member of the visiting delegation and the first son of Holocaust survivors to be elected to the Canadian Parliament, “we thank Stephen Harper, who doesn’t just go along to get along, but stands on principle.”
Regarding those who would suggest that Canada take a more “balanced” approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Canadian Member of Parliament Peter Kent told United with Israel: “You cannot balance those who want to see Israel destroyed or eliminated with the only true democracy” in the region. He pointed, for example, to Palestinian Authority participation in state-sponsored terror, inclusion of antisemitism in official media and the receiving of terrorists as heroes.
On Tuesday evening, the Canadian PM and his wife will be honorary guests at a festive evening dinner organized by the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) “in honor of Mr. Harper’s work and friendship.”
On Wednesday, the Harpers will tour Christian holy sites in northern Israel and attend the laying of a cornerstone for Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Center, arranged by KKL-JNF. Afterwards, they will proceed to Tel Aviv University, where the Canadian leader will receive an honorary doctorate and engage with students.