Editor’s Note: This essay was written in response to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s speech at the Ottawa Conference on Combating Antisemitism on November 8th.
by Terry Greenberg
Blessed art the war mongers
For they are hastening the Second Coming;
Blessed art the ethnic-cleansers
For they are fulfilling the prophecy;
Blessed art the soldiers of Zion
For they are doing God’s Work;
Blessed art the enemies of free speech
For they are silencing the Devil.
On Parliament Hill in Ottawa on November 8, 2010 the Prime Minister of Canada delivered a sermon on good and evil to an international gathering of supporters of Israel in which he clearly articulated his view that all support for Israel is “good” and all animosity toward Israel is “evil”. In true Bible-thumper style he offered no middle ground, denouncing this as “moral ambivalence”. It was clear in his preaching that he believed Israel was God’s Plan, and any opposition to Israel was the Devil’s work.
It should be terrifying to Canadians that their Prime Minister would have such a fundamentalist and extremist world view. If we want to understand our current government’s foreign policy and the danger it poses to Canada’s welfare, it would be worthwhile to examine our Prime Minister’s “Sermon on the Hill”. All Canadians should read it for themselves and shudder.
Harper’s speech was remarkable in a number of ways which are outlined below:
1) Biblical eschatological thinking. This is the foundation to Harper’s speech and is partly evidenced in his repetitious use of evangelical code words; particularly “evil” (eight times) and “hope” (three times). “Evil” for evangelicals is anything that opposes God’s plan, and “hope” refers to the desire for an early arrival of the End Times. When both of these words are used in conjunction with Israel the coded implications are clear.
2) Harper out-Zionists the Zionists. He appropriates many of the most extremely absurdist claims of mainstream Zionist propaganda as his own, including the following:
a) That criticism of Israel’s policies is a new, more sophisticated form of anti-Semitism;
b) The Jewish people are faced with another imminent Holocaust;
c) That most criticism of Israel, including that made by Israel’s direct victims, the Palestinians, is motivated by anti-Semitism rather than legitimate grievances;
d) That people in the fields of human rights and international law are only interested in criticizing Israel because they are anti-Semitic.
2) Harper ignores the evidence. He peppers his talk with many falsehoods including the following;
a) Anti-Semitism is a growing global problem. (The truth is that animosity to Israel’s policies is what is growing, not classical anti-Semitism.)
b) Anti-Semitism is a growing problem on Canadian campuses. (There is absolutely no evidence for this claim.)
c) Extremists “target the Jewish homeland as a scapegoat”, suggesting they really are motivated only by racial hatred rather than real grievances.
d) Iran “brazenly threatens to ‘wipe Israel of the map’”. The truth is that no such threat has ever been made, and Harper’s minions would have advised him of this.
3) Harper completely reverses reality. He declares that Canada must stand by Israel because of our duty “to defend the vulnerable, to challenge the aggressor, to promote and protect human rights.” He has described an upside-down world and expects Canada to live in it. It is the Palestinians who are the vulnerable, who are victims of aggression and have their human rights violated on a daily basis. Only someone indifferent to evidence and blinded by faith could see the Middle East in the way Harper describes it.
4) Harper abandons Canada. Perhaps the most malicious and seditious element of Harper’s talk was his commitment to support Israel, regardless of how badly it behaves, or how much doing so will harm Canada, “whatever the cost.” This statement must be seen for what it truly is: Harper’s promise to put his dedication to his religious beliefs above his responsibilities to Canada. Unfortunately for us Canadians, Canada was never mentioned in the Bible, and thus we are not important enough in the eyes of Harper’s God to warrant preferential treatment, even by our own leaders.
Canada’s Evangelical Leadership
Harper’s speech in Ottawa offers perhaps the clearest revelation of the roots of the current misguided Canadian foreign policy. It is not based on evidence, and is not even based on doing what is best for Canadians. Indeed it goes so far as to accuse many, if not most Canadians of being on the side of “evil” and essentially in league with the Devil. The logical corollaries to the blessings listed above are the following;
Damned art the peace-makers
For they are delaying the second Coming;
Damned art the supporters of Palestinians
For they are resisting the prophecy;
Damned art the critics of Israel
For they are doing the Devil’s work;
Damned art the advocates of free speech
For they will give voice to the Devil words.
We do not have to believe in any of the blessings or damnings implied in Harper’s sermon on Parliament Hill, but we can be certain of one thing: Canada will be damned if we allow the disgraceful, immoral, absurdist thinking that defines Harper’s world view to be the basis for our foreign policy much longer.
— Terry Greenberg is a retired Canadian diplomat who specialised in East Asia. He obtained an M.A. in Communications wherein he studied the techniques of discourse analysis which he applied to Stephen Harper’s speech here. He is a political activist with a special interest in free speech and Middle East issues. He resides in Vancouver, Canada and can be contacted here.