Praise for Canada
Josh Reinstein, director of the Christian Allies Caucus of Israel’s Knesset, recently praised Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a “role model for world leaders.” He made the remarks to The Friends of Israel’s Up to Jerusalem tour group in Israel.
Charles McCracken, Canadian director of FOI Gospel Ministry in Canada and a tour cohost, commented, “There is no question Prime Minister Harper’s policies have resulted in a shift in Canadian attitudes toward Israel. It is significant that Canadian Christians are investing time and effort to visit the land of the Bible.”
Canada’s attitude toward Israel has not always been so warm. Historically, it maintained a neutral position in the Arab-Israeli conflict. That attitude changed dramatically, however, when Harper became prime minister in 2006.
Shortly after taking office, he pushed his government to delegitimize the Palestinian Authority (PA) by cutting off diplomatic relations and financial aid when Hamas gained control. Later that year, as Israel defended its borders against a Hezbollah attack from Lebanon, Harper, wrote World Affairs Journal, “staunchly defended Israel’s ‘right to defend itself,’ and, more controversially, supported what he called its ‘measured’ response.’”1 Unlike most Western leaders, Harper laid blame for the conflict squarely on Hezbollah.
World Affairs Journal has characterized Canada as “the single most supportive nation of Israeli policy, exceeding even the United States, Israel’s traditional senior partner.”2
Harper was one of only a handful of leaders who recently opposed (although unsuccessfully) granting the PA observer status in the UN. He was also the first world leader to boycott both Durban I and II on the grounds that these so-called anti-racism conferences were little more than forums to condemn Israel.
In a 2010 speech to the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, Harper declared, “When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack—is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand….As long as I am prime minister,…Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost.”3 Harper has been true to his word.
That Canadian attitudes toward Israel have changed was evident on the recent Up to Jerusalem tour where almost a third of the participants were from Canada. To show their support, members of the group proudly wore Canadian/Israeli flag pins and were frequently greeted with smiles and thanks for making Israel their March-break vacation destination.
FOI Gospel Ministry, as it is known in Canada, operates in fellowship with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc. The Canadian office in Brampton, Ontario, was opened in 1998 to minister to Canadian constituents and reach out in love to the Jewish people of Canada.
- Jordan Michael Smith, “Reinventing Canada: Stephen Harper’s Conservative Revolution,” World Affairs Journal, March/April 2012 <tinyurl.com/cblc7k4>.
- “Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the Ottawa Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism,” November 8, 2010 <pm.gc.ca/eng/media .asp?id=3769>.