Proving once more that “fact is stranger than fiction,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper is being nominated for the Nobel peace Prize by a Canadian Jewish organization: the B’Nai Brith Canada. After having thoroughly pinched myself to make sure that I was indeed not dreaming, it appears that the Nobel Peace Prize nomination is just the latest in a long slew of accolades for humanitarianism that the Prime Minister has received from the organization. Others have included the “Gold Medallion for Humanitarianism” as well as the honour of having an entire library built in his name (the Stephen Harper Centre for Human Rights). While many of us are inclined to believe that the Canadian Jewish community is possessed with an incredible predilection for witty jokes, the fact of the matter is that Stephen Harper is incredibly well received by the Jewish nation.
In a press release issued Friday, B’Nai Brith’s CEO, Frank Dimant, was quick to heap praise on Harper for his leadership. “Moral clarity has been lost across much of the world, with terror, hatred and antisemitism filling the void,” Dimant said. “Throughout, there has been one leader which has demonstrated international leadership and a clear understanding of the differences between those who would seek to do evil, and their victims. More than any other individual, he has consistently spoken out with resolve regarding the safety of people under threat — such as opposing Russian aggression and annexation of Ukrainian territory — and has worked to ensure that other world leaders truly understand the threat of Islamic terrorism facing us today.” One wonders if Dimant simply forgot his Alzheimer’s medication or if he really believes that Harper is God’s representative on earth.
As absurd as this development may seem, it does make sense given Harper’s commitment to the Israeli cause. Since coming to power in 2006, he has faithfully stood by Israel on a number of international conflicts, the most recent one being the Gaza conflict which erupted just a few short months ago. During the worst days of the conflict, we saw the Tories not only release a pro-Israel ad on television but even praise the actions of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government amidst allegations from the UN commissioner on human rights that Israeli forces were deliberately targeting Gazan civilians (it was just dirt off the shoulder for John Baird, though).
While this prize may seem well-deserved in the eyes of the Jewish community, it has not stopped other Canadians from petitioning the nomination online. A Change.org petition, which had received roughly 12,000 signatures as of this Tuesday morning, said to the Nobel Peace Prize committee that it would be a “disgrace and insult to your prestigious award” to give Harper the prize. Furthermore, this sentiment is being echoed by Palestinian leaders, organizations, and communities around the world alike. Hanna Kawas, who is chair of the Canada Palestine Association based in Vancouver, said that, “With nominating him, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” A strong endorsement, if I never heard of one.
Yet, all of this may seem downright premature given the competition for the prestigious prize and the electoral process involved with it. Because so many people are eligible to submit nominations (politicians, judges, professors etc.) the list of candidates can grow extremely long. Not to mention, many of the nominees do not stand a snowball’s chance in hell. For example, some of the listed candidates for the 2014 prize include… Wait for it… Vladimir Putin. Yes, even if Harper somehow decided to club all of Baffin Island’s seals using orphaned children as clubs, he would still be short-listed before the True Father of Modern Russia.