UPDATE: The Likud primaries are being held today. As soon as the results are known, they will be posted on israelstreet breaking news. The IDF arrests two Palestinian terrorists overnight who were released in the Gilad Shalit exchange deal.
Just when you think the entire world is afflicted with some bizarre mental disease which leads to Israel being mindlessly criticized by everyone everywhere all the time, a moment comes when a person demonstrates such blinding moral clarity that it leaves one breathtakingly speechless.
Just such a moment occurred yesterday at the 12th annual Herzliya Conference when Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird took the podium and began to speak.
Your humble servant will let his words resonate without any analysis except my occasional highlighting for emphasis:
Mr. Baird’s speech
(please note that the speech, abridged here for space, also included references to the democratic movements in the region and to Benjamin Netanyahu’s most recent speech at the United Nations)
This is my third visit to Israel, though my first as Foreign Minister. . .
Let me state at the outset, and for the record, that Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada. Canada is not a large nation in population terms. Our 34-and-a-half million people are spread across a massive landmass. . . Over the course of our history – Canada has never shied away from standing up for what is right and just.
Indeed, like Israel, Canada has fought mightily against hatred and intolerance. We have paid a high toll for the principles that guide us. In two World Wars – and in conflicts before and since – we have paid in blood spilled and lives lost. All, in defense of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. . .
For the same reasons Canada was one of the first countries in the world to list Hamas as a terrorist entity… For the same reasons Canada was the first country to sign onto the Ottawa Protocol on Combatting Anti-Semitism …For the same reasons Canada this year voted against a package of one-sided, imbalanced resolutions at the United Nations…
The Canadian tradition is to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is popular, convenient or expedient.
Again, Israel has no greater friend than Canada.
Why is it that we care so much? Why is it that our Prime Minister and our government believe so deeply and so passionately in Israel’s right not only to exist, but to exist as a Jewish state and to live in peace and security? Why is it that our Prime Minister has said that “those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us?”
The state of Israel embodies principles that Canada values and respects. It is a beacon of light in a region that craves freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. . .
It is also, in no small measure, because Canada recognizes the long and unbroken history of anti-Semitism. And we know the dangerous facts of history and of human nature: that humans can choose to be inhuman.
Indeed, Israel today is a country whose very existence is under attack both literally and figuratively. Whether it is rockets raining down on Israeli schools, or the constant barrage of rhetorical demonization, double standards and delegitmization, Israel is under attack.
It is symptomatic of that new ill – the new anti-Semitism: harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so.
We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. . . .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.
For a country like Canada, the easy thing to do would be simply to go along with anti-Israeli sentiment, to get along with other countries. It would be easier to pretend that engaging in anti-Israeli rhetoric is being somehow even-handed, and to excuse it under the false pretense of being an ‘honest broker.’ It would be easier to get votes, too, as taking a stand – even in defense of a friend – often risks offending someone. Yes…it would be much easier for us to simply go along to get along.
But Canada will not “go along to get along.” Canada upholds Israel’s right to exist – as a Jewish state – in peace and security.
On this point, there is no space for moral ambivalence. We are compelled as a country of free citizens to speak clearly. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act.
Canada will not accept that, or stay silent while, the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory or its people. We uphold Israel’s fundamental right to defend innocent civilians against acts of terrorism. Just as fascism and communism were the great struggles of previous generations, terrorism is the great struggle of ours.
Far too often, the Jewish state is on the front line of our struggle and its people the victims of terror’s scourge. The Second World War taught us all the tragic price of “going along” just to “get along.”
It was accommodation and appeasement that allowed fascism to gather strength. As Winston Churchill said: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” And so, we defend Israel’s right to exist. . .
Let me conclude by looking forward. . .
More than 60 years ago, Israel appeared as a light in a world emerging from deep darkness. Against all odds – and despite concerted efforts by some – the light has not been extinguished. It burns still. And it burns ever brighter when upheld by the principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
There is room for more light in this region – especially as the darkness of swirling regional uncertainty threatens to close in. There is room for two states respecting the principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rules of law. Working together, we strengthen and affirm these important principles in word and deed.
And we declare our choice to use our freedoms and shared humanity for good, not evil.
Thank you. / Merci
Thank you, Foreign Minister Baird–and thank you, Canada.
There is nothing for your humble servant to add. This speech should be published far and wide and its principles shouted from the rooftops.
. . . There is no space for moral ambivalence. We are compelled as a country of free citizens to speak clearly. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act.
Dear reader, what have you done for Israel today?
THIS DAY IN ISRAELI HISTORY
On January 31, 1936, the New York Metropolitan Opera performed La Juive. A fundraiser for Hadassah–the American women’s Zionist organization–, the performance helped raise money to get German Jewish children safely to Palestine.