Not many foreign heads of state stand up for Israel. When that does happen, it is newsworthy.
Such is the case with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
During the Summer 2006 Lebanon conflict, Harper rejected calls from some quarters in Ottawa to adopt an even-handed neutral approach, like the position assumed by most European nations who prefer to watch Hizbullah pummel Israel and yet see justice and suffering on both sides.
Harper, instead, was forthright in denouncing terror groups who dared to reign hundreds of missiles on Israelâ€™s sovereign territory, forcing one million out of only seven million Israeli citizens to either flee their homes or take cover in shelters, for more than one month, while hundreds of homes in northern Israel were destoyed.
In that context, Canadian PM Harper has retained his consistent support for the Jewish state under siege, and scheduled a state visit to Israel for the third week of June.
Indeed, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, under several police investigations for high level corruption, prepared for Harperâ€™s visit with the pomp and circumstances due to a friendly foreign dignitary, while readying Jewish and non-Jewish Canadians to accompany Prime Minister Harper on his visit.
However, Harper cancelled his visit.
Harperâ€™s office openly stated that Harper did not want to be hosted by an Israeli prime minister under police investigation
This was a case of a politician who did not deny receiving $150,000.00 in cash payments over a period of six years from at least one supporter, someone who was clearly waiting for the opportunity of a visit from a friendly foreign leader to cast himself in the lime light and distract the public from routine daily news stories of felony charges hurled at their head of state, to the point where Olmert is now called The official â€œCrime Minister of the state of Israelâ€Â.
Amazingly, Prime Minister Olmert holds on to his job, with his lawyers claiming that he has not broken the law. Israeli investigative reporter Yoav Yitzhak actually revealed an official transcript which quotes Olmert telling the police that he â€œdid not open the envelopesâ€Â. Right. And he only inhaled.
Olmert is not the only Israeli leader with a halo of moral questions surrounding his rise to power. When Israel Minister of Defense Ehud Barack called on Olmert to consider a temporary suspension from his position, an Olmert public relations advisor, Tal Zilberstein, a former PR advisor to Barak, declared that he knew of many â€œenvelopesâ€Â that Barak had received when he was Prime Minister, 1999-2001.
Zilberstein should know, as one of several Barak advisors who were implicated in the creation of twenty five fictitious non profit organizations, in Israel and abroad, which helped elect Barak over the Likudâ€™s Benyamin Netanyahu in 1999. The State Prosecutor at the time recommended one indictment â€” against Zilberstein, which was never carried out. Barakâ€™s lawyer, Yitzhak Herzog, now a senior Israel government cabinet minister, was threatened with an indictment because he handled these fictitious groups on behalf of Barak. However, Herzog chose the right to remain silent and was also not indicted. Herzogâ€™s behavior was in the confines of the law, yet with a moral cloud over his shoulders.
The source of the funds for these 25 fictitious non profit organizations which catapulted Barak to power. Speaking in Toronto several years ago, PR maven James Carvelle stated that tens of millions of dollars flowed from the Clinton Administration in the direction of Elud Barak, to defeat Netanyahu.
All this represents the tip of the iceberg of the crisis of moral leadership in Israel.
Harper is the first friend of Israel to declare that he will not be used to create a false impression of integrity around leaders of Israel whose morals have come into question.
After all, is there a nation in the world where a politician who did not deny receiving $150,000 in cash payments, with no receipt, where that leader would not resign?