If I were the praying type, I'd be asking God to prove me wrong today. But I'm not, which means I'll have to settle for hoping my fellow human beings do it instead. For I am afraid that doing the right thing on the latest Middle East crisis is not going to help Stephen Harper at all politically and may even hurt him in Quebec.
It's not because I worry about Mr. Harper or his government. Not much, anyway. But I do worry a lot about where this country, particularly the part on the other side of the Ottawa River, is going. Especially when it comes to the war on terrorism and the civilized world's struggle against barbarism. Punishing the prime minister for having the courage, finally, to show moral clarity and support for Israel instead of the usual “even-handed” nonsense, would be a sure sign that Canada has really lost its way. Or been dragged out of it by prevailing public opinion in Quebec.
I have never been to the Middle East. As far as I know, I have approximately zero Jewish ancestors. But I would like the record to show I, too, stand with Israel. Not doing so is almost incomprehensible.
I'm not saying there aren't decent people elsewhere in the region. There are, and I pity them when they are the victims of violence or bad government. But Israel is the only true democracy in the region and also the only country constantly fighting for its survival against a bunch of maniacal nut-jobs whose only goal is to wipe Israel off the map and exterminate every last Jew, no matter what it takes.
It's quite simple, really. As Townhall.com columnist Dennis Prager so deftly put it, “The Arab and other Muslim enemies of Israel (for the easily confused, this does not mean every Arab or every Muslim) want Israel destroyed. That is why there is a Middle East conflict.”
So yes, it was refreshing to hear Mr. Harper support Israel's right to defend itself unequivocally. For the first time in what seems like forever, Canada has no trouble choosing sides between Hezbollah and Israel.
I only hope the clarity lasts. Some, such as the CBC's Larry Zolf, seem to think it will. Canada's new stand on Israel, he wrote this week, could get Mr. Harper “his majority government, even if he does not break through in Quebec.” Gosh, what if he's wrong and it turns out Canadians don't really support Israel against murderous thugs? Or what if Quebec tips the scales?
You don't need me to remind you of the province's unfortunate history of anti-Semitism, which I'm sorry to say hasn't entirely disappeared. French-language media coverage of the current crisis is overwhelmingly one-sided, with countless pictures and stories about anxious Lebanese-Canadians and very little on Israeli civilians deliberately targeted by the terrorists as opposed to being accidentally hit by the Israeli military.
Also, there are few efforts made to ensure Quebecers understand why this latest eruption occurred, or to be certain that published information is complete or even accurate. On July 14, for instance, veteran commentator Michel Vastel wrote on his blog that the kidnapped Israeli soldiers were “In Gaza, a territory the UN recognizes as autonomous. And in Lebanon, a sovereign country.” Wrong. As one reader told him, the soldiers were inside Israel when they were kidnapped. As of this writing, Mr. Vastel has not made a correction.
Even worse was senior Parti Québécois politician Louise Harel and high-profile Québec Solidaire party co-president Françoise David attending a Montreal rally against “Israel's attacks on Lebanon” on Tuesday where protesters, the Montreal Gazette explained, “condemned the Canadian government for backing Israel's acts of war”. The politicians pledged “their support for the Lebanese community both in Quebec and in Lebanon” and Ms. Harel told the crowd, “We share your pain and understand your anger.”
Other than La Presse's Lysiane Gagnon - to my knowledge the only francophone commentator who reliably and consistently sides with Israel - almost every comment I come across these days is at best “even-handed” à la Jean Chrétien and at worst, well, at worst you get an op-ed by former Université du Québec professor Denis Gaumond in Le Soleil asking Israel whether “killing civilians with impunity” truly is about self-defense or rather because Israel is “jealous” of Lebanon's “fledgling tourist industry”.
Maybe what's in the media does not at all reflect Quebecers' opinion on the conflict and the larger issue of terrorism. But I'm afraid it does and they will punish Mr. Harper at the polls in the next election for standing clearly against a second Holocaust.
Please, folks, prove me wrong.