‘Through Fire and Water’

Last week it was oh so Canada in Israel during the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and entourage. When Prime Minister Harper addressed the Knesset we here in Israel were again reminded that the flag of Canada is red, white, and true. His speech was so eloquent and sincere in support of Israel that it was surprising that the maple leaf, the centerpiece of the Canadian flag, was not made the national flower of Israel.

Crossing down-under to the far extreme of the Commonwealth, Sunday was Australia Day. It is a day we in Israel should consider celebrating this year in honor of the ascent of Tony Abbott to the position of Prime Minister. Abbott’s election heralded a virtual revolution in Australian-Israeli relations as his ardently pro-Israel Liberal Party replaced the incumbent Labor Party which criticized Israel in international forums while claiming it was doing so in Israel’s interest.

It is astonishing how many leaders both foreign and domestic claim they are proving their devotion to Israel’s best interests by publicly criticizing it. Instead, they should emulate Prime Ministers Harper and Abbott and recognize that being pro-Israel and the Jewish state means a robust and positive declaration of support for Israel as a Jewish state as opposed to the scraps from the diplomatic table which U.S. President Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry parsimoniously toss Israel.

Despite unrelenting effort and countless trips to the region since assuming the position of Secretary of State, Kerry announced the following list of possible provisions of a framework agreement during his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last Friday: “An independent state for Palestinians wherever they may be; security arrangements for Israel that leave it more secure, not less; a full, phased, final withdrawal of the Israeli army; a just and agreed solution to the Palestinian refugee problem; an end to the conflict and all claims and mutual recognition of the nation-state of the Palestinian people and the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

It seems the Palestinians get a state, and Israel gets to remove its first line of defense by removing soldiers from transferred regions and a series of nebulous expectations which have already been rejected by the Palestinians with their intractable position. For Kerry to offer as the prize for negotiations the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is an insult to Israel’s present existence. Are we a “pre-natal” nation? Fortunately, friends such as the leaders of Canada and Australia recognize the existence of the Jewish state even if Kerry believes it is a point to be bargained for in present negotiations.

Kerry claims that another reward for Israel would be enhanced security. He states this as if it were a breakthrough in diplomatic thinking. In the annals of time, no nation has entered into an agreement with the expectation of less security, with one exception, the Oslo Accords. Signed in 1993, it would probably qualify as a nation signing a document leading to an inevitable decrease in security. It is hoped that Israel has learned from this travesty and will not enter into any more spurious land-for-peace arrangements such as Oslo, where Israel relinquished land gained in wars the Arabs started in exchange for short-term cease-fires.

Regardless of the leader — President Obama, French President Hollande, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Cameron of England or Secretary of State Kerry — when they have discussed Israel or addressed her while visiting, they have felt compelled to create an alloy of praise with a distinct admixture of condemnation.

I did not include the European Union under the stewardship of Catherine Ashton because theirs is an unrelenting, unbalanced attack on Israel devoid of an admixture of praise and filled with a blatant disregard for history (Ashton’s Holocaust Remembrance Day speech made NO mention of Jews!). This not only tempers their commitment to Israel and emboldens attacks both verbal and physical; it also promotes a moral relativism. They cannot say that Israel is right in an unqualified sense. There is always a context which supports the Palestinian position. This relativism is contemptible.

This moral relativism was exposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his speech before the Knesset, in which he said that “moral relativism runs rampant. And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.” To Harper’s thinking, these sinister notions manifest today in anti-Semitism often expressed through anti-Israel actions, for example, the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions). Harper noted, “We have witnessed in recent years the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain. … As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel.”

In a time of equivocations and malleable meanings, when politicians who ostensibly represent my new and ancient nation make statements that betray a commitment to both the new and ancient nation, it is rare to find concrete and clear words of support for Israel. When Prime Minister Harper pledged to Israel that “through fire and water, Canada will stand with you,” the words could not have been more clear and declarative. I was immediately reminded of another pledge, the promise G-d made to our father Abraham, that “I will bless those who bless you,” and was contented thinking that our straight-talking friend from Canada left the Holy Land much richer than when he arrived.


Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at msolomon@Hamodia.com.