Full Text Israel Political Brief January 20, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Marking the Visit of PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, in Israel

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Knesset Marking the Visit of PM of Canada, Stephen Harper, in Israel

Source: PMO, 1-20-14

יום שני י”ט שבט תשע”ד

Photo by GPO
– Translation –

Mr. Speaker,
Ministers,
Members of Knesset,
Head of the Opposition,
Supreme Court Justice, Hanan Melcer,

Distinguished visitors from Canada, ministers, senators, everyone else is distinguished, too. But above all, my dear friend, Israel’s great friend, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

The warmest welcome to you, Stephen, to you dear wife, Laureen and to your entire delegation. The people of Israel deeply appreciate your steadfast support, your sincere friendship. Welcome to Israel, dear friend.

Stephen, you decided to start your visit to Israel with a lookout over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

This is the Jerusalem that has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people since the time of King David, 3,000 years ago. There are those in the international community who try to refute our connection to Jerusalem and our land, but not you. You are well familiar with the facts, past as well as present. I want to tell you, Members of Knesset, that there are others in the international community who also know the facts; but unlike the others, Stephen, you have the courage to stand up for the truth, and you have the courage to say the truth.

We live in an age of hypocrisy. In this age of hypocrisy there are those who, instead of dealing with the real problems of the Middle East – the slaughtering of thousands, the trampling on human rights, the systematic oppression of women, minorities and religions – in this age of hypocrisy, there are those who choose to denounce Israel, the only democracy in the region, where human rights are respected, where the rule of law is maintained and freedom of religion is guaranteed to members of all faiths.

In this age of hypocrisy that we live in, Canada, under your leadership, is a moral compass and a beacon of decency. You fight the attempts to deny the State of Israel’s legitimacy. You stand with us in the war against terror. Canada, and you Stephen in particular, fight anti-Semitism fearlessly. I believe that you understand and appreciate our desire for peace, true peace, peace that is based on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people – because that is the root of the conflict and always has been, and I hope it will be solved one day, perhaps soon – and peace that is based on solid security arrangements.

Stephen, you went from Jerusalem to Ramallah today. I am certain that you realized that the distance is not that great. I think that there are streets in Toronto that are longer than that. If I am not mistaken, Young Street is longer than the state of Israel. That illustrates why we yearn for peace – because we live so close to each other. But it also demonstrates why we require steadfast security arrangements – because in such short distances, we have no margin of error. We have to be very precise. We must make certain that after reaching an agreement, what happens in Ramallah is an explosion of construction, not a blast of rockets launched at us, like we have seen and still see in Gaza.

Distinguished guests, thousands of kilometers separate Canada, calm and vast, from Israel, not so big – bigger than life perhaps, but not as large as Canada – and dealing with endless existential threats. The geographic distance is immense, but our two peoples are truly close. This closeness, rooted in our hearts, narrows that distance.

Canada was one of the 33 countries which voted for the UN resolution to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. When Israel was established in the midst of war, volunteers arrived from Canada to fight in the War of Independence. One of the most prominent volunteers was Ben Dunkelman, a Toronto-born Jew who was a war hero in the Canadian army. He was in the invasion of Normandy, and wanted to come here, and use the military experience he had gained in World War II to help the embryonic Jewish state. He participated in the breaking of the siege of Jerusalem, and then commanded the Armored Brigade that freed the Upper Galilee.  This is what he wrote in his memoir: “I was simultaneously a Canadian and a Jew, and neither as a child not as an adult did I find any conflict between the two.”

This is the distinctive spirit of Canadian Jews which I encounter every time I visit: a warm, vibrant community, proud of its Jewishness and proud of Canada. Prime Minister Harper, my friend Stephen, Canada and Israel march together, shoulder to shoulder, throughout the years. Our two peoples believe in the future, a future of progress, of technology, of initiative, of freedom. These are the principles that I know guide you in Canada, and these are the principles that guide us here, in Israel.

In this visit, we are discussing ways to further enhance the ties between us, as cooperating with each other helps make both countries stronger, more prosperous, more progressive. I hope that the day comes that we will find partners here in the Middle East who share our vision, many partners. I hope that the parliaments will cooperate; I hope that there will be real parliaments. For example, let’s look at Syria. Here in the Parliament, as you have seen Stephen, anyone can speak their mind. They can stand up, talk, yell, irritate. But these are not things that can be done in Damascus. Only here in Israel do we have freedom. I must say that I have not found that our friends, Israeli Arabs, want to take leave of Israel. They all want to be here, and justly so. I understand them. I think I made my point about the robustness of Israeli democracy. That’s easy.

But looking forward, our feet must stay firmly planted in the ground. The Middle East outside of this home, outside of this country, is turbulent and unstable. But more than anything, what threatens peace, stability and security, and I add progress in the Middle East, is Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. The international community’s objective must be to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities. That goal is still ahead of us.

The interim agreement, which went into effect today, does not stop Iran from realizing its goal of making nuclear weapons. Producing the fissile material, the core of the atomic bomb, is like a train that stops in three stations: station 1 – enriching uranium to 3.5%, station 2 – 20%, and the final destination – 90%. The Geneva agreement cancelled the 20% station, but left the train on the tracks, enabling Iran to improve and upgrade the engine by developing new centrifuges. When the time comes, Iran will be able to leap to the last stop faster, on an express line, without stopping at the stations on the way. In a final agreement, the international community must derail the Iranian nuclear train. Iran must not be left with the ability to build nuclear weapons.

Stephen and distinguished guests, I believe that it is time that the international community, which has recently been easing sanctions and giving Iran legitimacy, also demand that Iran stop calling for Israel’s destruction and arming terror organizations: Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and others. There is no justification for legitimizing a regime like Iran that maintains its murderous policy, and there is every reason to demand that it dismantle its nuclear capabilities and its radical policy.

I know Stephen, that our concerns are your concerns. You fully share our desire to see a stable, safe and peaceful Middle East. Canada, under your leadership, is one of Israel’s closest allies, and you will find that we have a fascinating country, a wonderful land, and we are happy that you and your dear wife, Laureen, have the opportunity to visit parts of it. Wherever you go, you will feel the deep friendship that the citizens of Israel have for you and your country. We will always have a close friend in Canada, and in you, a friend and leader of great stature, whose name will always be remembered with pride in the history of our relations.

Welcome to Jerusalem.
Bienvenue a Jerusalem.

Advertisements

Full Text Israel Political Brief January 20, 2014: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s historic speech to Israel’s Knesset

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Full text of Harper’s historic speech to Israel’s Knesset

Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses the Knesset on Monday, January 20, 2014. Harper is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan on this trip.

Source: Globe and Mail, 1-20-14

Shalom.

And thank you for inviting me to visit this remarkable country, and especially for this opportunity to address the Knesset.

It is truly a great honour.

And if I may, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my wife Laureen and the entire Canadian delegation, let me begin by thanking the government and people of Israel for the warmth of your hospitality.

You have made us feel extremely welcome.

We have felt immediately at home.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canada and Israel are the greatest of friends, and the most natural of allies.

And, with your indulgence, I would like to offer a reflection upon what makes the relationship between Canada and Israel special and important because the relationship between us is very strong.

The friendship between us is rooted in history, nourished by shared values, and it is intentionally reinforced at the highest levels of commerce and government as an outward expression of strongly held inner convictions.

There has, for example, been a free trade agreement in place between Canada and Israel for many years, an agreement that has already proved its worth.

The elimination of tariffs on industrial products, and some foodstuffs, has led to a doubling in the value of trade between our countries.

But this only scratches the surface of the economic potential of this relationship and I look forward to soon deepening and broadening our mutual trade and investment goals.

As well, our military establishments share information and technology.

This has also been to our mutual benefit.

For example, during Canada’s mission to Afghanistan, our use of Israeli-built reconnaissance equipment saved the lives of Canadian soldiers.

All such connections are important, and build strong bridges between us.

However, to truly understand the special relationship between Israel and Canada, one must look beyond trade and institutions to the personal ties of friendship and kinship.

Jews have been present in Canada for more than 250 years.

In generation after generation, by hard work and perseverance, Jewish immigrants, often starting with nothing, have prospered greatly.

Today, there are nearly 350,000 Canadians who share with you their heritage and their faith.

They are proud Canadians.

But having met literally thousands of members of this community, I can tell you this:

They are also immensely proud of what the people of Israel have accomplished here, of your courage in war, of your generosity in peace, and of the bloom that the desert has yielded, under your stewardship.

Laureen and I share that pride, the pride and the understanding that what has been achieved here has occurred in the shadow of the horrors of the Holocaust; 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.

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.

On many occasions, Canadians have even gone so far as to bleed and die to defend the freedom of others in far-off lands.

To be clear, we have also periodically made terrible mistakes as in the refusal of our government in the 1930s to ease the plight of Jewish refugees but, as a country, at the turning points of history, Canada has consistently chosen, often to our great cost, to stand with others who oppose injustice, and to confront the dark forces of the world.

It is, thus, a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.

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.

Ladies and gentlemen, I said a moment ago, that the special friendship between Canada and Israel is rooted in shared values.

Indeed, 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.

These values are not proprietary; they do not belong to one nation or one people.

Nor are they a finite resource; on the contrary, the wider they are spread, the stronger they grow.

Likewise, when they are threatened anywhere, they are threatened everywhere.

And what threatens them, or more precisely, what today threatens the societies that embrace such values and the progress they nurture?

Those who scorn modernity, who loathe the liberty of others, and who hold the differences of peoples and cultures in contempt. Those who, often begin by hating the Jews, but, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them. 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.

Ladies and gentlemen, just as we refuse to retreat from our values, so we must also uphold the duty to advance them.

And our commitment as Canadians to what is right, fair and just is a universal one.

It applies no less to the Palestinian people, than it does to the people of Israel.

Just as we unequivocally support Israel’s right of self-defence, so too Canada has long-supported a just and secure future for the Palestinian people.

And, I believe, 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.

As you, Prime Minister [Netanyahu], have said, when Palestinians make peace with Israel, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations — it will be the first.

Sadly, we have yet to reach that point.

But, when that day comes, and come it must, I can tell you that Israel may be the first to welcome a sovereign Palestinian state, but Canada will be right behind you.

Ladies and gentlemen, support – even firm support – doesn’t mean that allies and friends will agree on all issues all of the time.

No state is beyond legitimate questioning or criticism.

But our support does mean at least three things.

First, Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Israel.

Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable.

Second, Canada believes that Israel should be able to exercise its full rights as a UN member-state and to enjoy the full measure of its sovereignty.

For this reason, Canada has spoken on numerous occasions in support of Israel’s engagement and equal treatment in multilateral fora.

And, in this regard, I should mention that we welcome Israel’s induction this month into the western, democratic group of states at the United Nations.

Third, we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.

Now I understand, in the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy “to go along to get along” and single out Israel.

But such “going along to get along,” is not a “balanced” approach, nor a “sophisticated” one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong.

Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant.

And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.

“And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain.

We all know about the old anti-Semitism.

It was crude and ignorant, and it led to the horrors of the death camps.

Of course, in many dark corners, it is still with us.

But, in much of the Western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society.

People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.

As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel.

On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.

Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.

Think about that.

Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.

It is nothing short of sickening.

But this is the face of the new anti-Semitism.

It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make  the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.

Of course, criticism of Israeli government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Semitic.

But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to defend itself while systematically ignoring – or excusing – the violence and oppression all around it?

What else can we call it when, Israel is routinely targeted at the United Nations, and when Israel remains the only country to be the subject of a permanent agenda item at the regular sessions of its human rights council?

Ladies and gentlemen, any assessment – any judgment – of Israel’s actions must start with this understanding:

In the sixty-five years that modern Israel has been a nation, Israelis have endured attacks and slanders beyond counting and have never known a day of true peace.

And we understand that Israelis live with this, impossible calculus:

If you act to defend yourselves, you will suffer widespread condemnation, over and over again.

But, should you fail to act, you alone will suffer the consequence of your inaction, and that consequence will be final, your destruction.

The truth, that Canada understands, is that many of the hostile forces Israel faces, are faced by all western nations.

And Israel faces them for many of the same reasons we face them.

You just happen to be a lot closer to them.

Of course, no nation is perfect.

But neither Israel’s existence nor its policies are responsible for the instability in the Middle East today.

“One must look beyond Israel’s borders to find the causes of the relentless oppression, poverty and violence in much of the region, of the heartbreaking suffering of Syrian refugees, of sectarian violence and the fears of religious minorities, especially Christians, and of the current domestic turmoil in so many states.

So what are we to do?

Most importantly, we must deal with the world as we find it.

The threats in this region are real, deeply rooted, and deadly and the forces of progress, often anaemically weak.

For too many nations, it is still easier to scapegoat Israel than to emulate your success. “It is easier to foster resentment and hatred of Israel’s democracy than it is to provide the same rights and freedoms to their own people.

I believe that a Palestinian state will come, and one thing that will make it come is when the regimes that bankroll terrorism realise that the path to peace is accommodation, not violence.

Which brings me to the government of Iran.

Late last year, the world announced a new approach to diplomacy with the government in Tehran.

Canada has long held the view that every diplomatic measure should be taken to ensure that regime never obtains a nuclear weapon.

We therefore appreciate the earnest efforts of the five permanent members of the security council and Germany.

Canada will evaluate the success of this approach not on the merits of its words, but on the implementation and verification of its promised actions.

We truly hope that it is possible to walk the Iranian government back from taking the irreversible step of manufacturing nuclear weapons.

But, for now, Canada’s own sanctions will remain fully in place.

And should our hopes not be realized, should the present agreement prove ephemeral Canada will be a strong voice for renewed sanctions.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude with this thought.

I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world.

It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society a vibrant democracy a freedom-loving country… with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary, an innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation.

You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own.

In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents 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.

My friends, you have been generous with your time and attention.

Once more, Laureen and I and our entire delegation thank you for your generous hospitality, and look forward to continuing our visit to your country.

Thank you for having us, and may peace be upon Israel.

%d bloggers like this: