Former prime minister Stephen Harper lauded America’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and blasted “the torrent of media venom” against Israel for its response to the Gaza protests, during a speech in front of a synagogue audience on May 14.
“President Trump deserves immense credit for finally recognizing Jerusalem is indeed the capital of Israel,” Harper said to thunderous applause from the more than 1,000 people who filled the sanctuary of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Westmount, Que.
The event was organized by Israel Bonds, whose chief executive officer for Canada, Raquel Benzacar Savatti, called Harper “a man of exceptional moral courage.”
Harper also unequivocally endorsed U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran, as he did in a full-page ad in the New York Times, along with other former world leaders, the week before. He warned of the grave threat the “hateful and imperialist” Islamic regime poses to, not only Israel and the region, but the Western world, as well.
“All Western nations, for their own sake, must stand by Israel against the Iranian regime. To have nuclear weapons in the hands of messianic mullahs is too dangerous,” said Harper, again to enthusiastic clapping and whistles.
At one point in the evening, some attendees started chanting, “Four more years.” A few jeered when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s name was mentioned.
Event co-chair Robert Issenman said he wished he could still introduce him as “Prime Minister Harper.”
Harper argued that the nuclear deal is seriously flawed for three main reasons: the monitoring provisions are “woefully inadequate”; it allows Iran to continue developing weapons delivery systems; and the 10-year “sunset” clause on Iran’s ability to enrich uranium is inadequate.
“The deal is a roadmap to Iran’s acquiring nuclear arms in less than a decade. President Trump has made a correct and courageous decision and he deserves full marks,” said Harper.
He later commented that, “The premise of the deal was that if relations were normalized, Iran would gradually become more moderate. The opposite has happened: it has emboldened the regime, it has become more belligerent toward Israel, the West and even opponents in the Arab world.” And the money that has accrued to Iran has been funnelled into “terrorist entities,” he charged.
Harper now heads his own consulting firm and remains active with the Conservative party, through its fundraising arm.
He is a founding member of the Friends of Israel Initiative, along with other former Western politicians and opinion makers. In February, he was elected chair of the International Democratic Union, an alliance of centre-right political parties from around the world.
President Trump deserves immense credit for finally recognizing Jerusalem is indeed the capital of Israel.
– Stephen Harper
Canada should move its embassy to Jerusalem, he said, as it is “easy” to do now that the U.S. has taken the lead. He said he didn’t do so when he was prime minister because it might have endangered Canadian embassy staff.
Harper said that supporting the Jewish state is “the obviously right thing to do. A generation – or more like two – ago, no one asked why a Western nation would support Israel. It was just assumed. But some media, academics and international organizations have made attacking Israel something of a cottage industry.”
Today, Israel is of “vital strategic importance to the long-term interests of Canada and the wider Western world and civilization … our only enduring ally in that most dangerous region,” according to Harper.
On the other hand, “at the top of the list” of its threats is “jihadist, radical Islam,” he said.
While he supports the two-state solution, Harper said the Palestinians have scuttled their chances with their “self-defeating” attitude.
“There is no sovereign Palestinian state because too many Palestinians have refused to accept the right of a state that is Jewish to exist, generation after generation.”
The demand of the right of return of “millions of Arabs” to Israel proper is unfeasible, according to Harper. What the Palestinian leadership means by two states, he contended, is one in which Jews live as a minority and another where no Jews at all are allowed.
Since 1947, the Palestinians have taken the position that “if they can’t have all of what was the British Mandate, then they choose nothing instead,” said Harper.
All Western nations, for their own sake, must stand by Israel against the Iranian regime. To have nuclear weapons in the hands of messianic mullahs is too dangerous.
– Stephen Harper
While he often appeared to be the lone voice in Israel’s defence on the international stage during his time in office, Harper said that, in private, he found that many other political leaders were sympathetic. “The truth is, it was often about doing what was easiest (for other leaders). There are five dozen Muslim countries, two dozen Arab countries and one Jewish state. They go along to get along,” he said.
Within Canada, Harper believes he had solid support for his position on Israel, with the exception of Quebec.
“Whatever the media says, millions of non-Jewish Canadians share my pride and admiration in Israel, as do others around the world.”