Stephen Harper: Wasting Opportunities and Burning Bridges

Stephen Harper recently had the opportunity of a life time. He was the first Prime Minister to speak in front of Israel’s parliament.

I make this post with great caution. I do so because the issue is one that is extremely controversial. Firstly, I’m disappointed in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s inability to do the right thing. Canada has been looked at as a country that can help broker peace between Israel and Palestine. Instead he took the opportunity to make it clear who he, and more so his government supports. Telling the Israel people that “through fire and water, Canada will stand with you”. He also knocked critics of the Israeli government, by stating “those who call Israel an apartheid state are exercising a form of Anti-Semitism”.

Being disappointed in Mr. Harper did not surprise me. I’ve become accustom to being disappointed in my Prime Minister. What surprised me is that all three political parties in Canada held firm in their position that a boycott or criticism of Israel is a new version of anti-Semitism. Going so far as to say the rallies and protests held by students and activists over the treatment of the Palestinian people could cause those individuals to be labelled an anti-Semite.

Some students and political activists oppose Israel’s policies and laws surrounding the Palestinian people. A system that is in many ways is a two tiered system based on discrimination and segregation of race. Liberal Member of Parliament Mark Garneau said that, “comparing Israel to an apartheid is divisive”. He may be right, but it doesn’t mean the comparison is completely incorrect. 

Talking about this might not be the most politically safe thing to talk about, in fact the relations between Israel and Palestine are extremely difficult to talk about. However, to lambaste students and activists as anti-Semites because they oppose a government is low brow. Caring about the treatment and living conditions of others does not make you a hateful person. These neo-conservative views attempt to polarize the issue, and put people in boxes. You either support Israel, or you hate Jewish people.

Anti-Semitic’s exist everywhere. They are irrelevant as we allow them to be. We shouldn’t care what racists and assholes think. Validating their views is the first mistake. The second mistake is using Anti-Semitism as a barrier to prevent reasonable and rational discussion about a countries laws. I wanted the leader of my country to leave Israel with a message of hope and possibility. No bridges were built, and opportunities were squandered.

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