It's no secret that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a staunch friend of Israel. In contract to every other Western leader whose support of our State has other been mildly hostile, morally equivocable or present with reservations, Mr. Harper has time and time again demonstrated his unfailing support for Israel during its times of trouble.
The Israelis have noticed to. During my recent trip to Israel I was told about Harper by all the Israelis I identified myself as a Canadian to. Mind you, this didn't translate into a discount at the hotel but they were still glad I had chosen to stay there.
I'd like to suggest that this is actually a bad thing and that perhaps Mr. Harper should tone it down a little.
Granted some of it is the paranoid golus Jew in me, the "Sha, shtil" guy who just wants us to keep our collective heads down so no one notices us. But part of me is worried about the fallout of Mr. Harper's principled and moral position, mostly because of what the future might hold.
For one thing the Canadian government's position on Israel hasn't been without consequences. It cost Canada a seat on the UN Security Council, for example. Now you and I know that the UN is a storage institution for bovine faeces and that the Security Council is a meaningless body within that pile of excrement but many Canadians still believe that the UN is worth something. Losing out on a seat at the table with the "big boys" smarts for some and more than one columnist wondered if supporting Israel was worth taking that loss.
Then there are reports of Canadians having more trouble when travelling in the Arab parts of the MiddleEast because of the perception of Canada being an enthusiastic stooge to the Israeli "oppressor". Canadians have long been smug about their international reputation and the urban legends of Americans putting Canadian flags on their luggage because they know they'll be greeted in a more friendly fashion. Anything that tarnishes our "mostly harmless" reputation is frustrating.
Finally there is the next election to consider. Stephen Harper will run against a socialist whose entire support base either wants him to pander to Quebec's sense of exceptionality or demands he perpetuate Marxist class warfare economics should he achieve power. His other opponent will be a former school teacher who, prior to becoming the leader of his party, had no experience campaigning for office at any level, had achieved nothing exceptional in his life and whose entire celebrity status rested on his being the son of a former prime minister that our national broadcaster, the CBC, has spent decades convincing people that he wasn't the most hated Canadian leader in history when he retired (he was) but rather an enlightened philosopher king who presided over a golden age (he wasn't and didn't). And guess who's leading in the polls?
If there's one thing you need to remember about Pierre Elliot Trudeau's foreign policy in the 1970's and early 80's it's that he never met a mass murdering Communist dictator he couldn't like and that he was disgusted with other Western leaders whom he saw as intellectually inferior to him, especially if they were American. He also had little love for Israel and under his leadership Canada either abstained or voted in favour of anti-Israel motions at the UN. From his few public statements on record so far, his son Justin seems to be cut from the same cloth. He is on record as saying that dictatorship is a great form of government because when it comes to environmental protection initiatives it means not having to waste time with such things as the democratic process. He has also expressed the classic Liberal support for Israel: sure we like Israel but we like its mortal enemies just as much and see no moral difference between the two sides.
This is where Mr. Harper's enthusiasm for Israel could eventually cause trouble. Imagine that in 2015 Justin Trudeau's Liberals win the federal election, chas v'shalom. Imagine the first policy briefing where Justin is informed that Canada's biggest foreign policy problem is the perception that it is too pro-Israel and that this must be changed immediately? How much of a swing would that entail? How eager would Justin and his ilk be to demonstrate their "even handedness" as "fair brokers" in the MidEast "peace process"? The more support Mr. Harper shows now, the harder Justin will have to work to convince some of the ugliest despots in the world that Canada is their drinking buddy too. That might lead to tremendous damage to the Canada-Israel relationship and fallout for us, Israel's Canadian supporters.