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|Joshua Levitt||September 28th 2012|
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, said the government of Iran constitutes, “unambiguously, a clear and present danger and thus demands a very sober assessment.”
Speaking after receiving the World Statesman Award from Rabbi Arthur Schneier’s Appeal of Conscience Foundation, Prime Minister Harper said: “I speak not merely of its appalling record of human rights abuse, or its active assistance to the brutal regime in Syria, or its undeniable support of terrorist entities, or its determined pursuit of nuclear weapons, rather it is the combination of all these things with a truly malevolent ideology.”
“I believe that the appeal of our conscience requires us to speak out against what the Iranian regime stands for,” the Canadian Prime Minister said to nearly 1,000 black-tie guests at a dinner in his honor at the Waldorf-Astoria, in New York City. “It likewise requires us to speak in support of the country that its hatred most immediately threatens, The State of Israel.”
Introducing the prime minister, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, spoke of the UN Security Council, where “the five permanent members, for the past 10 years, have been discussing how Iran’s nuclear proliferation is unacceptable, and now it’s time to define what unacceptable behavior means.”
After the introduction, Kissinger told The Algemeiner that Canada’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran was “important” and that the move “will help bring others” to the same decision and compel regime change “by letting [Iran] feel isolated in the world community.”
Prime Minister Harper, ranked number one on The Algemeiner 2011′s list of top 10 Non-Jews Positively Influencing the Jewish Future, and number three in 2012, has become known for his support of Israel and friendship to Canada’s Jewish community, which has been unwavering.
In June of this year it was revealed that his Defense Minister Peter MacKay told Israel’s top military commander at the time, Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, during a 2011 visit to the Middle East that “a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada.” Harper also used the speaking opportunity at the event to reiterate his support for the Israeli leadership, while his staff confirmed he met with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu earlier in the day.
“In supporting Israel, we don’t sanction every policy its government pursues,” Harper said. “When, however, it is the one country of the global community whose very existence is threatened, our government does refuse to use international for a to single out Israel for criticism. And it is important to state that whatever Israel’s shortcomings, neither its existence nor its policies are responsible for the pathologies present in that part of the world.”
“We are also mindful of the lesson of history: that those who single out the Jewish people as a target of racial and religious bigotry will inevitably be a threat to all of us. Indeed, those who so target Israel today are by their own words and deeds, also a threat to all free and democratic societies.”
“I say these things not to counsel any particular action, not to wish any additional hardship on the long-suffering Iranian people, and certainly not to advocate war, but rather so that we not shrink from recognizing evil in the world for what it is. Our government simply contends that the international community must do more to further pressure and isolate this regime.”
Speaking about the broader financial upheaval in Europe and political crises in Middle East, the Canadian prime minister tried to place the change in the context of history. “The years through which we are now passing seem to be times of extraordinary change, as if some great hand is spinning the wheel of history,” he said.
“Nations with a history of shared values, like our friends in Europe are weighed down by debts they cannot seem to control, by entitlements they can no longer afford and by the sluggish economies that show few signs of growth. Meanwhile, new powers are rising, whose commitments to our ideals are often neither firm nor clear.”
“What appears to some a hopeful spring for democracy quickly becomes an angry summer of populism. Old resentments seem to come back to life energizing groups who advocate terror, and dangerous, rogue states seek nuclear weapons,” he said.
The Appeal of Conscience Foundation also honored Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup, and Virginia Rometty, of IBM, where she is the president, CEO and next week will be named chair of its board. ACF announced it would nominate Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president of Indonesia, for next year’s award.
The foundation was created in 1965 by Rabbi Schneier to promote global religious understanding by working with businessmen and by leveraging his international network of clergy to work together in peace initiatives, including the Northern Ireland conflict, the Dirty War of Argentina, the battle for Yugoslavia, where “we were able to pull together religious leaders to not be the fodder for nationalistic ambitions,” the rabbi said. “A crime perpetrated in the name of religion is the greatest crime against religion.”
Joshua Levitt writes for the Algemeiner, from where this article is adapted.