Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper exposed anti-Israel media bias Tuesday by noting that no reporter asked him in Ramallah about human rights in the Palestinian Authority but peppered him with questions on Jewish settlements when he was in Jerusalem.
At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday, Harper was asked several times to make a statement on settlements. He kept repeating what he has said he arrived on Sunday – that the purpose of his visit is not to “single out Israel” for criticism.
When a reported pressed him again on the issue, Harper replied, “Once again, let me emphasize it: I am not here to single out Israel for criticism. I find it, you know, interesting – let me just make it as an observation – that, you know, yesterday in the Palestinian Authority, no one asked me there, no one asked me there to single out the Palestinian Authority for any criticism in terms of governance or human rights or anything else.
“I’m asked to single out Israel. When I’m in Israel, I’m asked to single out Israel; when I’m in the Palestinian Authority, I’m asked to single out Israel; and in half the other places around the world you ask me to single out Israel.”
Harper in a single swipe described the international mindset against Israel more clearly than any Israeli official has ever done.
Netanyahu picked up the beat and stated, “Now, there are two things that I want to puncture, two prevailing myths. Well, one is no longer with us. The first one, which was repeated ad nauseum – you can check if you are a repeater – but until recently, everybody who knew anything about the Middle East explained that the core of the conflict, always in the singular, conflict; the core of the conflict in the Middle East was the Palestinian problem. You remember that?
“Now, today you’d be laughed out of most places…, including the leading campuses in the West – even there – if you argued this, what was accepted as a common, obvious truth…
“The core of the many conflicts of the Middle East is not the Palestinian conflict. But what is the core of the Palestinian conflict itself? And here you have another great myth, and the myth is that the core is basically the settlements. Okay, now mind you the settlements issue, on which Canada has a different position from Israel – I guarantee you, that’s the case, okay? But the core, the settlement issue has to be resolved and will be resolved in a context of peace negotiations. But it is not the core of the conflict. We know that because this conflict raged for half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement, before there was a single Israeli soldier in Judea, Samaria or Gaza.
“This conflict began in 1920, 1921, with the attack on the Jewish immigration depot – murderous attack – in Jaffa. In Jaffa! And it raged on in the attack on the ancient Jewish community of Hebron; it’s been there since, practically unbroken since the time of Abraham – almost 4,000 years.
“And continued in the great attacks by the Palestinians on the Jews here in 1936 to 1939; there were no settlements there. It continued in the rejection of the partition resolution in 1947 that called for a Palestinian state next to – an Arab state actually – next to the Jewish state. There were no settlements. And it continued right up to 1967 when the West Bank, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza were firmly in Arab hands and it was meant to… to do what? To liberate the lands that were already in their hands?…
“So if you have half a century of conflict – 47 years, 46 years of conflict – there must be something else that is at the core of this conflict….
“Here’s the core of the conflict, and here is the key to its solution: the core of the conflict is not settlements; the core of the conflict are not the territories; the core of the conflict is not the absence of a Palestinian state. The core of the conflict is the persistent refusal to reconcile to an independent nation-state of the Jewish people.”
Harper’s pro-Israel position, because it is based on normal values that almost every other nation has corrupted, gave Prime Minister Netanyahu the extraordinary opportunity to challenge Canadian media covering Harper’s visit to print the whole truth and not half the truth.
“Since you asked about the settlements, then yes, we’ll deal with it in the course of a final settlement of peace, but no, it is not the core of the conflict,” he declared.
“The core of the conflict is the persistent refusal to accept a Jewish nation-state. That was a summation that you can put in a sound bite, but because of the plethora of distortion and shallowness of this discussion, as Prime Minister Harper has said about the general discussions about Israel, then I put before you a great challenge: put everything I just said in your media.
“If you do that, I will put a hat on and take it off for you.”
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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