Pro-Israel shouldn’t mean Pro-Harper

Ok so, judging on the fact that I am the third guy and this is not about sports, I should most likely file this under the “And A Blog” Category of posts. The closest we have to that is uncategorized…so I’m taking some liberties and officially creating the “And A Blog” Category of notes. I like it.

I can never say that my writing is always unbiased and neutral. When I write about political issues, I try to do my best and keep my own biases to myself and look at issues from an objective, rational and logical perspective. Obviously, biases permeate through writing. It’s natural. But I hope while reading this article you don’t see me pushing a certain political agenda—but rather looking at an issue from a (hopefully) rational standpoint.

So now that I’ve established that my goal is to be as fair as possible in regards to this issue, I’ll begin to discuss.

As a product of Stephen Harper’s strong pro-Israel stance, many people in the Jewish community feel obligated to back Harper’s Conservatives. Now, you may not be one of those people, but there is absolutely no question that some Canadian Jews will vote Harper entirely (or almost entirely) based on his Israel stance. Evidence of this, in regards to Jewish youth, rests in the fact that if I were to poll university students for who they will be voting for I can’t imagine the Conservatives would be leading the government. I would guess that the Liberals, NDP and Green parties would have considerably more representation. That is the nature of the youth vote. You don’t pay taxes, so why are lower taxes appealing? Ideas of social welfare, student tuition cuts and international aid are far more appealing for the youth demographic. But, how is it that I see so many young Jewish Canadians throwing their support behind Harper?

Maybe it’s for good reason. Maybe I’m being delusional. Maybe I’m not seeing things clearly. I wouldn’t put that out of the equation. I could have this all wrong. But I see so much Harper support from the Jewish community that is based in one issue—supporting Israel. You’d vote for a leader of Canada only for something he supports in another country? You realize Harper won’t be leading the Knesset, right?

Add the fact that we support Israel because it remains the only operating democracy in the geographical area, yet Prime Minister Harper is by far the least democratic of the candidates available, and we have a really eye-opening concern. In Israel, transparency and democracy is important, but in Canada it isn’t? I’m not calling Harper some sort of fascist dictator, but rather stating that something like, for example, limiting the amount of questions the media can ask per day makes him the least democratic of the candidates.

And I’m not saying that this is a reason not to vote for Harper. Many believe that the government should not be so involved in our lives and that is a totally fair reason to be Conservative-minded. By it just seems so ironic that we are supporting the least democratic candidate, because we support Israel’s democracy. And it’s not like Michael Ignatieff is making the transition to the Liberal party from Hamas. Add in the fact that Canada’s role in international politics is minimal and voting for Harper only because he’s pro-Israel doesn’t seem like good reasoning.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be a factor in your decision. But I think domestic issues ought to hold more significance than foreign issues in the upcoming elections. If you support Harper because you think he’s done a tremendous job with recovering from the economic disaster only a few years back and that we need to get him in power in order to assure he is able to complete his plan AND that he is a supporter of Israel, then I’m all for it. I think it’s great rationale. But voting for Harper for the Israel issue alone? Doesn’t seem to follow any sensible logic.

Let me respond to two possible objections to my argument. First, is that people have the right to vote for whoever they want, for whatever reasons they want. And this is true. I won’t refute that because I fully support people who want to elect someone because of whatever reason. I’m not saying that you can’t vote for the Conservatives for the sole purpose of voting pro-Israel, nor am I saying that it is ethically pernicious to do so. Rather, I’m just hoping that people can find other reasons to pick a candidate outside of the pro-Israel factor. Not only is it a minor issue because of Canada’s standing in international politics, but also voting for another candidate is not going to cause the demise of the Jewish State. I don’t see Jack Layton forming an alliance with Ahmadinejad if he’s running Parliament this summer nor do I see Israel’s safety and right to exist being respected in the Middle East if Harper is elected. It’s voting solely because of a very minor issue relative to Canadian politics, while neglecting perhaps other interests you may have. Perhaps you actually like the NDP platform or at heart you are an environmentalist. But an inability to search out for these facts and simply (and sometimes, blindly) rely on the pro-Israel platform doesn’t seem like you’re doing your vote or your country any justice.

The second objection is that people can vote for a singular issue. For example, Green party supporters vote for primarily environmental issues. Many people vote for left-wing parties for the sole purpose of the legalization of marijuana. First off, is that I wouldn’t endorse these people’s decisions either. I don’t think you can pick a candidate solely based on one issue. Single-issue voters fail to see the large picture. It’s like voting for Hitler because he was a vehement anti-smoking activist. It’s always important to understand the entire platform of a candidate you are voting for, even if you’re just voting for a single issue. Furthermore, I believe certain issues, like voting for environmental protection, have more weight in Canada than a pro-Israel stance. If we elect a candidate that is pro-environment, then environmental change is realistic for Canada. Electing a pro-Israel candidate won’t have much impact in Canada or Israel. If we were voting in the US, I’d see someone voting for a candidate because they are pro-Israel to hold far more weight because US aid and support is critical for Israel. Canadian support is not unimportant—but does not hold enough weight to cause someone to vote for a candidate solely because of that.

At the end of the day, you can do whatever you want. And I’m glad we live in a country that you can vote for a candidate for whatever reason you’d like. But I hope that you see a pro-Israel stance as a factor in your decision, not a binding requirement, when you pick up a ballot this May.

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