Citizen Action Monitor

Harper’s speech to Israel’s Knesset “firmly condemned” by Canada’s Palestinian supporters

Harper seems to be incapable of pointing out things that Israel needs to correct and improve, says one critic

No 957 Posted by fw, January 22, 2014

“Thomas Woodley, president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, said he felt the prime minister didn’t make a distinction between fair and unfair criticism, and instead was attacking the legitimacy of speaking out against Israeli policies.”

To read the Toronto Star’s complete report, click on the following linked title. To read an abridged, admittedly pro-Palestinian version, see the account below with its added subheadings.

Stephen Harper’s Knesset speech draws split reaction at home by Alex Ballingall, Toronto Star, January 20, 2014

The historic speech before the Israeli parliament prompted praise and condemnation from supporters of Israel and the Palestinian people on Monday

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s historic speech before Israel’s Knesset on Monday got a polarized response from listeners back home.

Reactions differed starkly, with supporters of Israel and the Palestinian people staking positions on opposite sides of a familiar gulf. Harper’s words, which amounted to a strong backing of Israel, were either roundly praised or firmly condemned.

Harper’s one-sided speech overlooked Israel’s crimes, said chair of Canada Palestine Association

Hanna Kawas, chair of the Canada Palestine Association, called Harper’s speech one-sided, and said the prime minister wrongly overlooked “the crimes” of Israel, which he called a “settler colonial state.”

“He’s supporting Israel — and blindly,” said Kawas. “It could have been written by (Israeli premier Benjamin) Netanyahu himself . . . . We shouldn’t encourage Israel to continue with their path.”

Speaking before the Israeli parliament — the first Canadian prime minister to do so — Harper said support of Israel is a “moral imperative” for Canada. He argued criticism of the country’s policies is fair but warned of a “new anti-Semitism” that’s present in some opposition to Israel.

“No nuance, no reflection” said president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Thomas Woodley, president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, said he felt the prime minister didn’t make a distinction between fair and unfair criticism, and instead was attacking the legitimacy of speaking out against Israeli policies.

“There seems to be no nuance, no reflection,” Woodley said. “It’s fine for Canada to be friends with Israel, but we need to be good friends, and good friends will point out shortcomings and things that need to be corrected and improved. But Harper and this government seem to be incapable of that.”

How can Harper claim he supports the creation of a Palestinian state on land that Israel is colonizing? asked spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices

Tyler Levitan, spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices, called this aspect of Harper’s speech “disturbing,” and also questioned the sincerity of his pledge of support for an eventual Palestinian state, especially since he seems unwilling to condemn the continued construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“I don’t know how he can still accept that while saying he supports a state on land that’s being colonized,” said Levitan.

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