Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Canadian cabinet minister: "An attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada"

Canadians of a certain age remember Peter Kent as the anchorman on CBC’s The National newscast from 1976-1978. He’s now the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Americas. I didn’t know there was such a position, and I take that long-winded title as more evidence that we have too many cabinet ministers--but that’s beside the point. The February 12, 2010 edition of Shalom Life contained the following:

Shalom Life spoke with the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Americas and MP for Thornhill, regarding the latest development in the Iranian issue. "Canada has been concerned for some time not only about brutal repression of civil rights in Iran but also about the nuclear adventurism and the proclaimed quest of nuclear weaponry by President Ahmadinejad," said Kent.

I take issue with the latter part of the above quote from Mr. Kent. If Iran is in quest of nuclear weapons, it hasn’t yet been proven. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and under that treaty has a right to pursue uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes. Israel, India, and Pakistan, on the other hand, have not signed the treaty, and unlike Iran, have not allowed representatives of the International Atomic Energy Association into their countries to inspect their facilities. I’m pro-Israel, and I don’t have a quarrel with Israel possessing nuclear weapons; she needs them to defend herself against numerous and much larger enemies. It’s widely acknowledged (although not by Israel) that Israel has nuclear weapons, so shouldn’t that be considered a factor in Middle Eastern affairs? Yet, Joel Rosenberg and other pro-Israel Christians constantly harp about threats to Israel without mentioning Israel’s nuclear weapons. As for Iran’s alleged weapons program, I suspect this is largely bluster from Mr. Ahmadinejad. Nations that are actually developing (or acquiring) nuclear weapons don’t boast about it beforehand, but just spring it on the world (e.g., the U.S.S.R.). Mr. Ahamdinejad is evil, and follows a false prophet, but I don’t think he’s an idiot; a nation that doesn’t have nukes is unlikely to attack one that does.

Mr. Kent was also quoted as saying:

"Prime Minister Harper has made it quite clear for some time now and has regularly stated that an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada," said Kent and added that Israel is considered an ally of Canada.

I don’t know if Mr. Harper has privately said that to his cabinet or caucus, but he hasn’t stated such views publicly. In an address to the United Jewish Appeal Federation on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel in 2008, he said (transcribed by YouTube poster, with slight changes by me in spelling and emphasis):

Unfortunately, Israel at 60 remains a country under threat, threatened by these groups and regimes who deny to this very day its right to exist!

And why? And why, friends?

Make no mistake! Look beyond the thinly veiled rationalizations. Because they hate Israel, just as they hate the Jewish people. Let me tell you friends. Our government believes that those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada!

As the last world war showed, hatred and bigotry against some is ultimately a threat to us all and must be resisted wherever it may lurk.

In this ongoing battle, Canada stands side by side with the state of Israel, our friend and ally in the democratic family of nations. We have stood with Israel even when it has not been popular to do so and we will continue to stand with Israel just as we have said we would!

To say "those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada" isn’t quite the same as saying "an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada." Whether Mr. Kent misspoke (or was misquoted), or whether he’s accurately presenting the views of the Harper government, has yet to be made clear.

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: Genesis 12:3a

There’s nothing in this or any other passage of scripture that says that blessing the descendants of Abraham means that you have to prefer the state of Israel above your own nation. If Mr. Kent’s position does accurately reflect the government’s position, then I object. Canada and Israel are different nations, and having friendly relations with Israel does not necessarily mean having identical interests with Israel. As far as I’m concerned, an attack on Israel is not an attack on Canada, if that means Canada has an obligation to go to war if Israel is attacked. While I generally agree with the Harper government's pro-Israel stand, I believe that a position such as that stated by Mr. Kent would be to take a pro-Israel stand too far.

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