Editorial Exchange: Harper Was Right to Visit Israel

By Record, Waterloo Region | The Canadian Press, January 24, 2014 | Go to article overview

Editorial Exchange: Harper Was Right to Visit Israel


Record, Waterloo Region, The Canadian Press


Editorial Exchange: Harper was right to visit Israel

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An editorial from the Waterloo Region Record, published Jan. 23:

Stephen Harper's trip to Israel this week has become a field day for critics who accuse him of abandoning the balanced approach to Middle East politics that Canada nurtured for decades.

With his enthusiastic embrace of Israel and more standoffish response to the neighbouring Palestinians, the prime minister has squandered Canada's ability to help bring a lasting peace to the region -- or so his opponents would have us all believe.

A closer look at what Harper said and did in the Middle East, however, shows how off-target most of the critics are. Rather than blazing some bizarre, new trail in Canadian foreign affairs, Harper is largely walking in the time-honoured path trod by his predecessors. As for the impact of his Middle East foray, it may graft a few new olive branches in both Israel and the Occupied Territories. Harper may, indeed, be a force for positive change.

It's true that in his public appearances in Israel, Harper expressed unswerving support for that little nation as an island of democracy operating under the rule of law in a part of the world with an oversupply of despots and civil strife. You need only look at Israel's large neighbour, Syria, where more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions more driven from their homes in a horrific civil war, to see where the most egregious violations of human life and liberty in the Middle East are being committed. While Israel should do more to make peace with the Palestinians, it deserves encouragement for being a stable democracy, something both precious and rare in that part of the world. For decades, Canada has always offered such approval.

But Harper's message was about more than just Israel. He reaffirmed Canada's support for a two-nation solution to the competing interests in the region -- one, the Jewish state of Israel, the other a state for the Palestinians. …

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