Israel’s haters and detractors love to stress Israel’s “isolation”. Even those who are ostensibly our friends warn us of the isolation we will suffer if we don’t listen to their good advice by which they want to save us from ourselves (and surrender to our enemies). These warnings of isolation can be very unnerving even if we know them to be untrue, so it is extremely refreshing, not to say heartening, to hear our true friends say out loud that they stand with us against our enemies.
First amongst these friends is Canada whose Prime Minister is incredibly brave in taking an oustpokenly pro-Israel stance both in international and domestic forums. I call him brave because he openly defies his large, powerful and influential friend to the south – America – on issues like the Israel-Palestinian conflict, while at the same time countering contrary voices in his own Parliament.
Harper has also opposed the Obama administration and closely paralleled Israel’s concerns regarding Iran all through his tenure, warning that Iran must be judged by its deeds, not its words. This culminated in his opposition to last week’s American-brokered deal with Iran, to the extent that he declared that Canada will keep its own sanctions on Iran in place.
Here’s an example of Prime Minister Harper’s outspoken support of Israel (h/t Debi Z). As the headline says, can you imagine Obama speaking like this?
It is deeply gratifying to know that Stephen Harper is to be honoured in Israel by having the Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary named for him.
We thank PM Harper and all the Canadians who voted for him for his strong unwavering support of Israel. May his term of office continue and extend as long as possible, and may he continue to influence other Canadian politicians with his pro-Israel stance.
Another very strong friend of Israel is the new Australian government whose Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that Australia is going to support Israel at the UN – on that most controversial of issues: the settlements – in order to balance the extreme anti-Israel bias at that miserable institution:
AUSTRALIA has recalibrated its position on Israel and Palestine to ensure only “balanced” UN resolutions receive its support, says Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.
Australia this month abstained from two UN General Assembly resolutions; one condemning the expansion of Jewish settlements and another calling for the Geneva Convention to apply in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Under Labor, Australia had supported the resolutions.
Ms Bishop said the shift “reflected the government’s concern that Middle East resolutions should be balanced”.
“The government will not support resolutions which are one-sided and which pre-judge the outcome of final status negotiations between the two sides,” she said through a spokeswoman.
The resolution to end “all Israeli settlement activities in all of the occupied territories” was supported by 158 nations. Australia was one of only eight nations to abstain.
Australia was one of only five countries to abstain from calling for Israel to “comply scrupulously” with the 1949 Geneva Convention. The resolution was supported by 160 nations.
We saw an example of that extreme bias being pointed out only a couple of weeks ago by a fortuitous slip of the microphone from a UN interpreter who noticed the UN’s extreme anti-Israel bias by remarking:
“I think when you have… like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? [It’s a bit much, no?] I mean I know… There’s other really bad shit happening, but no one says anything about the other stuff.”
As with Canada, the Australian government’s new pro-Israel stance is very courageous since it stands up to so many powerful anti-Israel forces as well as opposing voices within its own Parliament. In the past, Australia under PM John Howard was a very staunch supporter of Israel, and it is very heartening as well as a great relief to know that under the new government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Israel once again has a strong friend and supporter in the Antipodes.
Besides these two powerful and outspoken supporters, Israel has support from some unexpected places.
President Shimon Peres is currently visiting Mexico, whose President Enrique Peña Nieto called the visit “cause for celebration”. In case this should be dismissed as so much diplo-speak, it should be noted that
eight bilateral cooperation agreements were signed in the fields of science, culture, youth, sport, water technology and management, and exports which Peña Nieto said would enable more economic development and the creation of jobs.
Israel was also chosen as the guest of honour at the Guadalajara book fair:
President Shimon Peres will inaugurate the Israeli pavilion at the Guadalajara International Book Fair during his state visit to Mexico. Israel was chosen to be this year’s guest of honor at the fair, the most important Spanish-language book fair, and second in size only to the Frankfurt Book Fair.
The Israeli delegation to the fair will include more than 30 authors, poets, members of the academic community and publishers, including authors David Grossman and Etgar Karet, poets Roni Someck and Agi Mishol and Israeli Nobel Prize Laureate for chemistry, Professor Ada Yonath. In addition, the delegation will include a series of artists including singers Ahinoam Nini and Ivri Lider.
[…]During the nine days of the fair, the Israeli delegation will stage over 200 different cultural activities. Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Rodica Radian-Gordon stated at a press conference at which the events planned for the Israeli pavilion were presented that “The Israeli presence at the fair will be a celebration of Israeli culture in Mexico,” and added that this is the greatest Israeli presence ever at a cultural event abroad.Founded in 1987, the Guadalajara Book Fair has been choosing one country as guest of honor since 1993. The guest of honor receives massive media exposure, which begins prior to the fair itself.
Israel’s participation as a guest of honor at the Guadalajara Book Fair is a result of an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the embassy in Mexico and in collaboration with the local Jewish community.
Even at the UN, that most outrageously biased institution of all, Israel has friends who have worked to invite us to join a regional group at the Human
Wrongs Rights Council (UNHRC). The main outcome of this move will be to end a historic wrong committed against Israel, and will end its isolation (there’s that word again) at this prejudiced place:
Israel on Friday was invited to join a regional group within the United Nations Human Rights Council, marking a major diplomatic achievement that significantly increases Jerusalem’s ability to advance its interests at the Geneva-based body.
The council’s Western European and Others Group (WEOG) decided to invite Israel to join after none of the member states voiced opposition to the move within the 48-hour period prescribed earlier this week.
However, Israel will most likely remain the target of disproportional criticism and condemnation from the council.
The European states agreed to welcome Israel into their midst in exchange for Jerusalem’s return to the council and its participation in its Universal Periodic Human Rights Review process.
Israel left the council a year and a half ago to protest its alleged anti-Israel bias.
“Though it’s not yet final, we are hopeful that Israel will very soon be admitted into the Human Rights Council’s Western group, putting an end to a longstanding act of discrimination whereby the Jewish state was the only nation to be excluded from a regional group,” said Hillel Neuer, the director of Geneva-based nonprofit UN Watch.
Admission to WEOG would allow Israel to participate with all other UN member states in receiving regular briefings, and have a say in the selection of council investigators, Neuer said. “More than anything, admission for Israel would be a sign of equal treatment, removing what has been an ugly stain of bigotry upon the reputation of the UN.”However, he added, “it will not detract from the Arab states’ continued ability to target Israel in resolutions, urgent sessions and a special agenda item.”
Human rights lawyer and pro-Israel activist Anne Bayefsky said Israel’s anticipated admission to WEOG is “indeed a major victory for Israel.”
However, she too stressed that Jerusalem’s position within the body remains far from ideal. “It is important to recognize that [Israel’s admission] says absolutely nothing about the UN Human Rights Council. This is a change made by the western group of states, and has nothing to do with the council itself,” she told The Times of Israel.
“At the council, Islamic states continue to hold the balance of power by controlling the African and Asian regional groups — which, taken together, form the Council majority. WEOG is vastly outnumbered at the council, and preposterous anti-Israel resolutions, and investigations and reports, will continue to flow like untreated water from a sewer.”
Who are Israel’s friends who worked to finally get Israel admitted to a regional group, even though it is not Israel’s proper geographical grouping?
Earlier this month, senior diplomats from the US, Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany and France sent a letter to the UN’s institutions in Geneva and to the ambassador of Spain, who heads the WEOG, telling them to finally admit Israel into their circle, according to Haaretz.
Israel struck an agreement with most WEOG states about its inclusion in the group, yet the decision is only finalized once the group conducts a vote and officially invites Israel to join. Even Turkey — which could theoretically block Israel’s admission to the group, as the vote needs to be unanimous — indicated that it would not oppose a decision to include Israel if everyone else was in favor. The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem declined to comment.
Of course the picture is not entirely rosy as indicated by the permanent Agenda Item 7 item (“the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories”) and as the final paragraph concludes:
On October 29, Israel participated in the council’s so called Universal Periodic Review, during which it was widely criticized for alleged human rights abuses.
But at least the civilized countries in the UN finally saw and admitted the injustice of keeping Israel isolated, and voted to admit Israel into their regional group so that it can take a fuller part in the UN’s proceedings and be more able to counter the inbuilt bias against Israel.
None of this is to say that Israel does not have its enemies and its detractors. How I wish it were so! But it is important to keep a sense of proportion, especially in these days of great tension with the United States, and to remember that we have many powerful and influential friends around the world.
Besides the Almighty One who dwells on High.