Stephen Harper’s recent visit to Israel marks the first time in history a Canadian Prime Minister has formally addressed the Knesset, Israel’s governing legislative body. Harper’s speech was overwhelmingly supportive of Israel and its right to exist as its own nation state. He condemned those that blame Israel outright for the unrest in the Middle East, stating that scapegoating the Jewish state is part of a new, more subtle form of anti-Semitism.
Some of the Prime Minister’s comments have drawn criticism from members of the Canadian public. Charles E. Pascal, a prominent Canadian educator and a member of Toronto’s Jewish community, aired his grievances about Harper’s speech in an open letter to the editor in the January 22nd edition of the Toronto Star:
“Our prime minister has totally sidelined our peacemaking capacity in the Mideast and well beyond. Friendship requires honesty about how to do better. Israel deserves better friends,” said Pascal.
The JNM journal spoke with Paul Angelini, a professor of political Science at Sheridan College in Oakville, who provided his take on backlash.
JNM Journal: What do you make of Stephen Harper’s recent visit to Israel, and his address given to the Knesset? Specifically, his remarks concerning criticism of Israel as being the “face of the new anti-Semitism”?
JNM Journal: What are your thoughts on Charles Pascal’s letter to the Toronto Star’s editor, where he accuses Prime Minister Harper of sidelining Canada’s “peacemaking capacity in the Mideast…”?
Canada and Israel’s relationship has been fraught with ups and downs. Some Canadian Prime Ministers and their governments have lauded Israel, while others have been more critical.
Below is a timeline that relates some noteworthy moments in Canadian-Israeli relations.