tv AIPAC Policy Conference Stephen Harper CSPAN March 31, 2017 3:42pm-4:00pm EDT
thank you very much. [ applause ] ♪ that was phenomenal. phenomenal. former canadian prime minister stephen harper has been a leading outspoken and courageous voice in strong support of a strong israel. his deeds have matched his words. no ally has worked harder with the united states over that period of time to build international opposition to iran's nuclear program. and he demonstrated he was a true friend of the jewish state. so ladies and gentlemen, please
joining me in welcoming former canadian prime minutes stephen harper. [ cheers and applause ] >> welcome to washington. >> nice to be here. >> was that unbelievable and moving, what we just heard? >> tremendous. >> what drives your commitment and your passion for this issue, this cause, this country? >> yeah, i got that question, frank, all the time. i guess let me begin with the side part of that. a couple of generations ago, somebody would have asked a politician why they didn't have that kind of support of israel. that's where we need to get back to. [ applause ]
look, i did not take these positions as a favor to the state of israel. i took the positions i took because i believed them to be in the best interests of my country, of canada. we're in a world where israel is one of family, in my view, family of western democratic nations. we have common threats, we have common interests, but particularly common threats. i tell people, what is the difference between our values and israel's? none. what is the difference between the threats we face? the only difference between the threats we face in canada, you face in the united states, our allies face, and israel, is that israel is much closer to those threats than we are. and so i believe this prime minister of canada, we have a
very simple choice, that we stand by israel and stand against those threats or we watch those threats come daily to our own shores. and that is why i believe so strongly that as canadians and americans, all western countries, it is in our absolute vital interest to stand by the state of israel. [ applause ] >> as you looking back on your tenure as prime minister, what do you now consider to be your top priorities and achievements in that bilateral canadian-israeli relationship? >> look, i could point to a lot of small things. one of the things i consider small in a way because it was more a personal honor, i was the first canadian prime minister ever to speak to the knesset and -- >> first ever. >> yes. [ applause ] we modernized our free trade agreements. there's a number of bilateral
commissions we took, technology and other things. but the two things i'm most proud of are these. i know one is very strongly supported here. our government, the government i led, john barrett, our foreign affairs minister -- give him a hand. [ applause ] we consistently refused to be bullied into signing one-sided international resolutions against the state of israel. and i'm very proud of that, because it was the right thing to do, but also because we take those stands and because we made strong and i think convincing arguments on those stands that ultimately brought the majority of canadians around to our side. that has made it very difficult for a future government to move away from those kinds of positions. >> i'm very interested in the words you used.
you said we refused to be bullied. bullied? >> i guess what i call bullying, frank, i call it argumentation without using actual compelling arguments. you see this all the time in international affairs, people try to convince you to agree to something simply because everyone else is doing it, peer pressure alone. i guess i'm the kind of guy by nature that if someone presents me with an argument and i don't agree with it and they resort to what i call bullying, pressure as opposed to persuasive argument, i tend to degree in more strongly. and i became more and more convinced on this issue that my positions were correct. what happened, frankly, was i noticed over time that other countries basically ceased trying to change my view on this. they knew i wasn't going to change my view.
in fact what's did he sstressin privately the number of leaders who agreed with my view but simply didn't want to break consensus because consensus was so important to them. >> politics and diplomacy collide, right? >> yes. >> what can be done in your view to address the anti-israel criticisms that turn up in the united nations and elsewhere? can you offer people in the room, israelis and others, any hope about that? because it's as predictable as the sunrise. >> and look, it's getting worse and worse on a certain level. look, my father always used to say, when it comes to the united nations, we just have to accept the united nations for what it is. we as conservatives often are kind of outraged at the conduct of the united nations on such and such an issue. but what is the united nations? the united nations is not a group of democratic nations. the united nations is not a meeting of our allies.
the united nations is the one forum in the world that includes everybody. the good, the bad, and the ugly. and, you know, when the vast majority of members of the united nations don't subscribe to what we would consider as basic human rights, it's hard to imagine how their human rights council could come to decisions that we would find as democratic nations terribly pleasing. but look, it is outrageous. it is outrageous that -- just one example, i know others know these things, outrageous that in the united nations human rights council, the one and only country in the world that is the subject of a permanent agenda item is israel. one of the freest nations in the world by any standards. yet there is virtual hero
worship there. for western leaders for the leadsers of our country not standing up for what is right and in our own interests and defending one of our most vital allies, state of israel. i will also say. this that notwithstanding the worsening atmosphere at the united nations, what was said earlier tonight, below the radar there are a greater and greater number and depth of bilateral relations between israel and the
countries aren't world. that is real success. it will eventually turn that and i think the present government of israel deserves a lot of compliments for that success. >> we heard that earlier today when we were speaking to leaders from africa who were setting up summits with israel and moving on a number of fronts. in your view, you're freed from the burden of leadership. you can say whatever you want, right? >> that's what journalists always tell you. >> you just a few friends in the room. on a serious note, what is the greatest threat as you look treejon now facing israel and for that matter the west as a whole in today's middle east? >> there are, i think, three -- three threats to israel of real significance. the first, and by far the most pressing because it is the one sort of strategic threat to israel and that is the iranian
regime. it's the possibility that regime could obtain nuclear weapons. it is -- if you look at israel's history, for so much of that period, there were threats to israel right on its borders. that simply doesn't exist today. there are bad groups. there are terrorist wloz can fire rockets and create a certain amount of havoc and kidnappings or injuries. they don't threaten israel in the way israel was threatened in the 1960s. that threat alone is the government of iran. look, how we really stop iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is, you know, something that, frankly, is always above the capacity of canada. i think it is critical that this country and that was the support of our allies that we do everything in our power, whatever step is ultimately
necessary to stop that regime from ever achieving nuclear weapons capability. second threat, longer term, not as immediate, but the spread of that short of bureaucracy, the spread of sunni jihadism in the region doesn't threaten israel to day. but it obviously threatens virtually every state in that region. and there is certainly a danger that if we can't contain or control this over time that israel just becomes vounlded by this enormous range of ungoverned spaces with groups of that kind of fa nat six. so that's an obvious second problem. you know, it requires considers interventions and wise prime minister of canada we supported the previous administration's efforts in iran or in iraq and
syria against isis. now the third threat to israel is the one i think we actually need to take the most serious. as canadians and americans. and that is the bdf movement. there has been, i have seen this in my political lifetime, the bds movement being the principle vehicle. one can disagree with the israeli government's policies in this aspect or. that but the bds movement is not about. that the bds movement is about translating the old ideology of anti-semitism into something acceptable to a new generation. the bds movement -- the bds movement in calling for the boycott sanctions and investing in israel, the bds movement in doing things like trying to have israeli academics expelled,
they're not allowed having jewish students harassed. these are realities. my son, you know, came home if his university campus a couple years ago and showed me a sign by the bds movement. star of david was a slash through it. the whole thing. could have come from berlin in 1938. it is incumbent on all of us -- you know, there are times, particularly with canadians, but there are times when we see thin wez disagree with. we act with politeness. when we see people who advocate that movement and who say these kinds of things, it is incumbent on all of us to be as vocal and as loud and as pointed in our denunciation as we can possibly be. >> prime minister, you have had unique view of history and voice. we thank you for your time here this evening and for your clear eyed vision. thank you very much.
>> this weekend on american history tv on c-span3 -- saturday, at 6:45 p.m. eastern, james haley, author of "captain paradise," a history of hawaii, talks about the life of the last queen of the kingdom of hawaii. >> she had secretly been working on a new constitution that would restore her royal powers. and, in fact, from this procession she went back to the palace and announced her new constitution and that was the beginning of the overthrow. >> at 9:00 on oit presidency, historian william luftenberd on the infect you haveness of 20th century presidents. >> how weak the american
presidency was in the late 19th century and how powerful an office it was when theodore roosevelt venlders power in order to shoot lions in africa. >> sunday on "real america." the 1961 encyclopedia film, the or deefl woodrow wilson with former president herbert hoover. >> even though this had 14 points, thez delegates were determined not to let idealism stand in their way. >> this weekend, we'll explore the literary scene and history of chico, california.
today at noon eastern on book tv, author michael magliari tells us about the founder of chico in his book john bidwell and california, the life and writings of a pioneer, 1841 to 1900. >> most important and long lasting relationship with the federal government, though, starting with the days in congress was his close relationship with the united states department of agriculture. he was constantly being sent -- constantly corresponding with officials in the usda and constantly receiving from them different crops that they wanted tested out in california's soil and climate. and they really use rancho chico as one of their early experimental farms before they actually oenld and ran their own. >> on sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on "american history tv." we visit the california state university farm. >> it's the number one industry
in california yet. and we're the number one state in the nation in terms of agriculture. and there's 23 campuses but only four of them have agriculture. and chico essentially represents the northern part of the state. but we draw students from all over california to get experience in agriculture itself. >> and we'll also go inside the chico museum to see the historic chinese alter from the 1880 chico chinese temple. watch c-span cities tour of chico, california, to day at noon eastern and sunday at 2:00 p.m. on american history tv on c-span3, working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> next, technology experts and government officials on countering online radicalization and extremism. they look at incription technologies and the challenges they pose to law enforcement and counter-terrorism operations.