The most surprising thing about Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s principled stand at the latest G8 Summit is that more world leaders have not adopted Canada’s balanced approach to the Middle East.
As one British official at the conference noted, “Mr. Harper clearly is the odd man out on this one, and it won’t do him any favors.” Ironically, the statement reflects poorly not on Canada, but on those who claim to desire a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, yet insist on setting up pre-conditions for negotiations.
The Israeli line has been that “We are ready for immediate talks without preconditions” – anytime, anywhere. Unfortunately, that openness has been met with intransigence by the Palestinian side and a naïve tendency to blame the side asking to keep talks going.
Fortunately, many ordinary Canadians see what this British official and his pinstripe-suit wearing colleagues don’t: that the Prime Minister was doing the right thing. Some comments at CBC and the blogosphere:
It is great to see PM Harper stand up for the support of Israel. Obama was wrong in talking about 1967 without first requesting security for Israel.
It is great to show integrity and leadership against sheep following US opinions on this issue.
P. David Hornik at FrontPage notes that while the rest of the leaders were insisting Israel consider going back to a nine mile territorial width as a precondition to negotiations, Harper stood firm:
Here are the (maximum) widths in miles of those seven G8 countries (minus Canada):
United States 3300 France 620 Germany 400 Germany 400 Britain 350 Italy 200 Japan 140
Also notable – and lamentable – is the rarity of a national leader taking such a principled stand on Israel as Harper has.
Meanwhile, David Harris at the Huffington Post notes that Harper's G8 stance is consistent with his government's support of the Middle East's only Western democracy:
Since becoming Canada's prime minister in 2006, when it comes to the Middle East, you've brought "Moral Courage and a Hankering to Learn the Truth" to your administration.
That same year, when Israel responded to the killing and kidnapping of its soldiers on the Lebanese border by targeting Hezbollah, you spoke up for Israel's right to defend itself, citing Hezbollah as responsible for the violence and asserting that the terrorist group sought Israel's destruction.
When, later that year, the 53 French-speaking countries known as the Francophonie met, Canada vetoed language to condemn Israeli violence against civilians in Lebanon because it failed to mention Israeli civilians targeted by Hezbollah. You stated: "The Francophonie cannot recognize victims according to their nationality. Recognize the victims of Lebanon and the victims of Israel."
If only more world leaders would follow Canada’s lead, our values and principles in support of democracy and peace would not have to take a backseat to misguided short-term realpolitik tactics that get us nowhere.