'An uncompromising opposition to terrorism'

Politique étrangère et Militarisation du Canada

This is an edited transcript of a speech delivered at Wednesday's B'nai Brith's annual Award of Merit dinner in Toronto.

We in the government have all been surprised by how much of our time in office has been consumed with international relations. As all of you know, one of the most significant and challenging foreign policy issues our new government has had to face is the situation in the Middle East.
Our approach to the Middle East, as elsewhere, has been guided by our values: Freedom. Democracy. Human rights. The rule of law. And the uncompromising opposition to terrorism.
These, my friends, are not new values. They are fundamental to what this nation has always stood for.
This year, the state of Israel, a democratic nation, was attacked by Hezbollah, a terrorist organization. When it comes to dealing with a war between Israel and a terrorist organization, this country, and this government, cannot and will not be neutral.
As a boy I was, like all lucky men, most influenced by my father -- and one of the great influences on my father's life was World War II. He was too young to have fought in the war, but old enough to have absorbed its lessons. The world was too slow to fully grasp the threat of fascism, too willing to make excuses for it, too blind to see what it meant for all of us.
As you know, this summer, my government was attacked mercilessly by our opposition for the position we took on the Middle East. I understand why. I understand that, with the news reports of the day, in the sound of battle and the images of destruction and the suffering of innocents, it is sometimes difficult to see what is truly at stake.
But the fact is this: Those who attacked Israel -- and those who sponsor such attacks -- don't seek merely to gain some leverage, to alter some boundary, or to right some wrong. They seek what they and those like them have always sought: the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.
Why? A thousand complicated rationalizations but only one simple reason -- because the Jews are different.
And because Israel is different, and alone in a complicated part of the world, it is too easy to embrace the rationalizations and ignore this truth. And too easy to ignore the greater implications of that truth -- which became so evident in World War II.
It is why Canada's new government has reacted with speed and spoken with clarity on the recent events in the Middle East -- just as we have against terrorists in Afghanistan. It is why we were the first nation outside of Israel to cut off funding to the Hamas government. It is why we defended Israel's right to vigorous and effective self-defence against Hezbollah.
Now, friends, in this same spirit of truth and with the openness that real friendship allows, I need to tell you that we must also seek a fair and just future for the Palestinian people.
Issues of human dignity, of giving people the opportunity to build their community, to realize their own dreams -- as long as they respect the rights and dignity of others -- are values we also share. Our government believes in a two-state solution -- in a secure, democratic and prosperous Israel living beside a viable, democratic and peaceful Palestinian state.
Egypt and Jordan took courageous steps many years ago to make peace with Israel. They know the benefits of peace. We think the time is long overdue for others in the region to join them.
And I have to believe that that is what most ordinary Palestinians, like most Israelis and most everyone else in the region, really want. The mother wants peace and security for her new child. The father hopes for a happy future for his family and his community. The young adult seeks freedom, opportunity and the chance to get ahead.
Some have claimed that my government is charting a radical new course in foreign affairs.
That is simply not accurate. Rather than charting a new course, we are restoring Canada to its traditional and true role: principled leadership in world affairs.

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