Israeli Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retains his position after a divisive election campaign. The leader of the right wing Likud Party has seen plummeting popularity in his native land; the international community are increasingly wary of him as well. In an effort to shore up his conservative base, shortly before the polls opened, Netanyahu announced that he would not, under any circumstances, consider a “two state solution” for Israel and Palestine, nor would he pull back from Israel’s expansion into occupied territories. The international community, including Israel’s allies, have pressured them to accept both aforementioned prospects. The 4th term Prime Minister has also specifically asked his supporters to go out and vote because “the Arabs are voting in droves.” Such a comment is unsettling from any politician.
After Netanyahu’s re-election, Prime Minister Harper tweeted, “I congratulate PM Netanyahu on his election results. We look fwd to working w/ the gov’t once formed. Israel has no greater friend than Cda.” Harper, desperate to follow Netanyahu into his own fourth mandate, essentially told his conservative compatriot, “Great job squashing the voice of moderation.” How much longer Canada will remain Israel’s “greatest” friend is up for debate.
Under Stephen Harper, Canada has repeatedly confirmed our devotion to Netanyahu’s vision of Israel for the past decade under increasingly controversial circumstances. Shortly after getting his entry into office, a Canadian military officer was killed by Israeli soldiers in a “friendly fire” situation. The Israelis used artillery and aerial bombardment against the Canadians. Not only did the Prime Minister refuse to admonish Israel before the attack, he also tried to turn the blame on the Canadians for being there in the first place. The DND has kept the official report into the incident hidden from the public eye.
In December of last year, the Canadian government refused to admonish Israel for the Netanyahu government’s controversial “Nationality Bill” (think Pauline Marois’s Charter of Values, only it allows skullcaps). The bill would have recognized Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, denied non-Jews “National Rights,” and made Hebrew the only official language. Non-Jews is not limited to Arabs and atheists, but Christians too. It would have turned Israel into a Quebec of the Middle East without all the snow.
It is significant that Canada’s right wing Conservative government, so adamant in their defence of Christians in the Middle East, don’t have an issue with denying Christian rights in Israel—particularly when Conservative MPs say claim that Christians are being persecuted in Canada!
Despite Netanyahu’s unexpected electoral victory—Harper might not consider 30 out of 120 seats a victory but, for Israel, which has never had a majority government, 30 is a landslide—he may find he has fewer friends in future. The Israeli PM claimed that there exists an “international conspiracy” to oust him from power by media and foreign financing—mostly from Europe, but also from the United States. These accusations are similar to those which Conservative politicians in Canada tend to make anytime anyone says something they don’t like. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Harper made a similar claim about the leftist bias of Radio Canada. More importantly, both the US and Germany have expressed concern over Netanyahu’s late election promise to oppose Palestinian Statehood and expand Israeli settlements in occupied regions. Having already alienated the White House by accepting a Republican invitation to address the United States Congress a few weeks ago, the Obama administration is seriously considering revoking his use of veto at the UN on Israeli-centric measures, leaving the state without friends on the Security Council. Apparently, that seat on the Security Council that Harper didn’t think was important would have been useful after all—if only to protect Israel. How can we stand with them when we’re stuck in the nosebleed seats at the UN?
Despite denouncing every criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, with the White House now removing its undying support, Canada may not be far behind. Already, Stephen Harper has quietly released a statement reaffirming Canada’s commitment to a two state solution in Israel. He refrained, however, from touching on the expanding Israeli settlements in occupied areas. Such a muted response seems to suggest that Ottawa may pay be paying more attention to the wills of Washington than to the demands of a conservative government in Tel Aviv. At the very least, the Israeli election means that Harper may not be able to use the line, “We stand with Israel,” come October, when we hold a referendum on his leadership