Having recently visited the US and Canada, I was left with a feeling of profound disquiet concerning the starkly contrasting attitudes toward Israel displayed by the leaders of these two neighboring countries.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has unquestionably emerged as Israel’s greatest friend in the world, effectively assuming the role previously occupied by former Australian prime minister John Howard.
Harper’s principled approach to Israel was demonstrated in an extraordinary address he gave in Ottawa to an interparliamentary conference for combating anti-Semitism. Courageously dismissing the traditional political correctness expressed by many liberals, who feel obliged to distance themselves from the Jewish state, Harper made it clear that under his leadership Canada would not “pretend” to be impartial on Israel even if that meant facing negative repercussions at the UN and other international organizations.
He said that the persecution of Jews had become a global phenomenon in which anti-Semitic ideologies targeted the Jewish people in their “homeland” and perversely exploited the “language of human rights to do so.” He stressed that “while Israel is the only country in the world under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand.
“I know this because I have the bruises to show for it, that whether it is at the UN or any other international forum, the correct thing to do is simply to just go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just about being evenhanded, and to excuse oneself with the label of ‘honest broker’… There are after all, a lot more votes in being anti- Israel than taking a stand.
“But as long as I am prime minister, whether it is at the UN or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost. Not just because it is the right thing to do but because history shows us that the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to us all.”
Canada was in fact “punished” for its support of Israel when it was ignominiously defeated by Portugal, an almost bankrupt country, in its attempt to obtain a seat at the UN Security Council. All 57 seats of the Organization of the Islamic Conference opposed the Canadian nomination.
For some, Canada’s defeat under such circumstances will be viewed as a badge of honor. But what made Canada’s defeat even more outrageous was the role of the US. According to Richard Grenfell, a former press officer with the US mission to the UN, “US State Department insiders say that US Ambassador Susan Rice not only didn’t campaign for Canada’s election but instructed American diplomats to not get involved in the weekend leading up to the heated contest.”
David Frum, a speechwriter to former president George W. Bush, also noted that “the US government has kept awfully quite about the suggestion that it went missing during the Security Council vote.”
The US betrayal of its neighbor and long-standing ally is a chilling indication of the depths to which the Obama administration has stooped in its efforts to “engage” and appease Islamic and Third World rogue states.
Having joined the appallingly misnamed UN Human Rights Council dominated by dictatorships and Islamic nations, the US is now beginning to reap the harvest from this flawed policy. This was exemplified this month during the council’s first “universal periodic review of human rights.” In a session where US representative Esther Brimmer told the group that “it is an honor to be in the chamber,” Cuba described the US blockade of Cuba as a “crime of genocide”; Iran, a country which stones women for adultery, urged the US “to combat violence against women”; and Libya complained about US “racism, racial discrimination and intolerance.”
IN THE midst of this and despite repeated assurances concerning the “unbreakable bond of friendship” between the US and Israel, Obama is continuing to flex his muscles by beating up on Israel. Yet, his Middle East policies, which run counter to American public opinion, have failed disastrously, with US approval levels in the Muslim world even plummeting below 2008 levels.
Obama’s most recent assault on Israel was conveyed from his childhood home, Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the largest Islamic country in the world, which he praised as a model of tolerance worthy of global emulation.
While compared to Arab standards, Islamic Indonesia may be relatively tolerant, the president overlooked the recent opinion polls, in which 25 percent of the population expressed confidence in the leadership of Osama bin Laden, and that between 2004 and 2007, 110 Christian churches were closed due to pressure from local governments. In January of this year, 1,000 Muslims burned down two churches in Sumatra.
Needless to say, Indonesia does not recognize Israel, bans Israeli aircraft from flying over Indonesian territory and denies entry visas to Israeli citizens. It is especially galling that from such a country, Obama again saw fit to distance the US from Israel and aggressively condemn the Jewish state for building homes in the exclusively Jewish suburbs of its capital Jerusalem.
We must ask ourselves what endgame the US administration is pursuing. Obama knows that former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians everything and that they still refused to reach an accommodation because their ultimate objective remains the delegitimization of Jewish sovereignty. What they now seek is a non-demilitarized state based on the 1949 armistice lines to provide them or other Arab states with a launching pad to attack and destabilize Israel. Not surprisingly, the Europeans are more than happy to accept such a state of affairs. It would thus be catastrophic for the Obama administration to stand aside and enable this process to eventuate.
Yet, all indicators suggest that the Obama administration is determined to capitalize on Israel’s international vulnerability. Despite the absence of any response from the Palestinians or the Arab world to Israel’s 10-month settlement freeze, the US has literally bludgeoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to breach his undertaking to the people of Israel and renew a settlement freeze, including areas that will undoubtedly remain in Israel.
Although on the surface the US appears to be offering incentives to Israel to persuade it to accede to its requests, anyone reading between the lines recognizes that nothing new is being offered. The exercise of the veto in the face of UN resolutions demonizing Israel and offering to maintain Israel’s security needs have been fundamental tenets of the relationship between Israel and the US. In reality, Obama issued an ultimatum to Netanyahu by threatening to abandon Israel unless it capitulates to his demands.
Many of us today yearn for an American president who would be more considerate of our needs than the present incumbent. It would perhaps be an impossible dream to have someone of the caliber of Stephen Harper leading the US, but alas, today, we are becoming increasingly reconciled to the reality that the US president is no friend of Israel and is paving the way for an imposed settlement with potentially disastrous long-term repercussions on the security of our nation.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post