Stephen Harper talks to UIA Women’s Division
The 2017 UIA Victorian women’s division breakfast was attended by several hundred attendees addressed by keynote speaker former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.
Chair of the UIA Victoria Women’s division, Hayley Southwick introduced Mr Harper, who was Prime Minister from 2006 to 2015. During her introduction, she outlined his history as a friend of Israel, quoting the Jerusalem Post, which said, it is “….unlikely … that anyone in the near future will outdo him regarding the passion, consistency, sincerity and intensity of his support of Israel.”
Taking the podium to a standing ovation, Mr Harper explained that not only is he a staunch supporter of Israel, “the only democratic state in the Middle East,” he believes in the state of Israel’s right to support and defend itself when attacked.
Focusing on the theme of justice, equality and hatred, he explained that he feels “morally obligated to take a stand,” when Israel is the only country that is unfairly singled out for condemnation. As a result, he has spent the greater part of a decade in meetings, where his voice “tended to be the only pro-Israel one.”
Mr Harper cautioned the audience to never forget the Holocaust for several reasons. Firstly for its historical significance, but also for what it teaches us. People need to understand that anti –Semitism is a constant threat in this day and age, however it is now couched in more sophisticated language. “In an attempt at intellectualising bigotry and making it acceptable for a new generation,” Israel is selectively condemned, whilst no-one raises issues about the fact that the Palestinian authority has no democratically elected legislators.
Once anti-Semitism existed in a crude manner, using the epitaphs ‘we hate Jews’, but thanks to organisations like the BDS, it has become more sophisticated. The state of Israel is constantly condemned, using the age old slogan of a slash through the star of David. It is still anti-Semitism, but in a new package. Vigilance is necessary and he recalled story of how he spoke at a media event. The department of foreign affairs had prepared a map of the Middle East and it was on display in the background. That would be fine, if not for the fact that Israel was absent from the map. Since then he has kept the map as a reminder to himself of the levels of anti- Semitism that exists world wide and what he has to continually fight against.
Although he is not Jewish, Mr Harper also believes that it is important to remember and understand the eternal anti- semetic threat, for several other reasons. Jihadists of Islam, such as Isis, pose a threat to all nations and their way of life. Scorning all religions that are not their own, they threaten the liberty of others, as well as all human rights and the socio-economic stability of nations. The only difference in the threat from Isis to Israel and Canada is the proximity.
If Israel goes, the West will have lost its only democratic ally in the Middle East and there will be nothing to stop the extremists from pushing onwards. Therefore in order to prevent chaos, we are obligated as free people of the world, to support Israel in their actions.
Mr Harper also addressed the issue of a two state solution. He believes that it is only possible, when Palestine admits that Israel has a right to exist in peace as a Jewish nation. As it stands, wanting all Jews out of all Arabic states, yet also wanting the right of return for all Arabs, so the Jewish people become a minority, is not an acceptable solution and one that will not occur.
Noa Hurwitz, a social worker from ‘Youth Futures’ in Dimona, concluded the event, by talking about what they do. Supported by the women’s division of UIA Australia, she is here to raise funds to sustain the project in Israel. Undertaken on a national level, the Youth Futures program provides children and youth at risk (ages 6-18) with comprehensive, tailored intervention, to enable them to become independent, productive members of Israeli society.