Tuesday, January 21, 2014

More LowLights From Harper's Speech

As more of Harper's speech to Israel's Knesset comes to light, the degree of dysfunction and narrow-mindedness of it becomes all the more clear.
The prime minister said he refused to single out Israel for criticism, saying it is easy to follow the international crowd and focus only on one country — a "go-along-to-get-along" approach he described as both weak and wrong.
Why yes, because the politics of absolutes has worked so well in that region in the past.  Harper needs to be taken aside by an experienced diplomat and schooled in the realities of dealing with a region as complex as the Middle East.  Other leaders tiptoe around those issues for very good reasons.
He spoke of the founding of Israel as a place where people could "seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history." 
While criticism of Israeli government policy isn't anti-Semitic, Harper said, criticism that targets only Israel while ignoring violence and oppression in its neighbours is unacceptable.
This is perhaps the most upsetting comment in Harper's speech - at least with respect to Canadians.  Harper's stance here is essentially a variation on "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" loaded questions.

Criticize Israel, and you are subject to being accused of being "anti-Semitic" if you haven't already published something equally critical of one Israel's neighbours.

This is nothing more than an attempt at silencing opposition.  Not surprising, this is little different than Vic Toews' notorious comment about "You're either with us or with the pedophiles" when Bill C-30 was introduced a few years ago.

First, Israel's actions as a state are subject to criticism and review just as the actions of their neighbours are.  There is no obligation in such criticism to "equally" criticize their neighbours.  Just as Syria's actions must be evaluated on their own merits, so must Israel's.  Doing so is not anti-Semitic or even anti-Israel.

For Harper to even suggest that criticizing Israel is unreasonable is itself an unreasonable position.  To implicitly claim that criticizing Israel is "anti-Semitic" is an appalling tactic aimed solely at silencing criticism.

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