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tv   Stephen Harper at AIPAC Policy Conference  CSPAN  March 27, 2017 6:46pm-7:03pm EDT

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kn news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tuesday morning, an economist will frame the upcoming congressional debate on tax reform and examine democratic, republican, and bipartisan proposals. then north carolina republican congressman walter jones and california democratic congressman john garimandi will join us to discuss a bill they co-sponsored calling on a withdrawal of all troops from afghanistan. live at 7:00 a.m. eastern tuesday morning. join the discussion. yesterday at aipac's policy conference, former canadian prime minister stephen harper on israel's relationship with other western nations. this is about 20 minutes. [ applause ] >> that was phenomenal.
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phenomenal. [ applause ] >> former canadian prime minister stephen harper has been a leading -- [ cheering and applause ] -- outspoken and courageous voice in strong support of a strong israel. his deeds have matched his words. no ally worked harder with the united states over that period of time to build international opposition to iran's nuclear program, and he demonstrated that he was a true friend of the jewish state. so ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming former canadian prime minister stephen harper. [ applause ]
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>> welcome to washington. >> it's 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 get that, frank. i got that question all the time. i guess let me begin with the sad 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, and that's where we need to get back to. [ cheering and applause ] >> but look, i always said this. 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. you know, we're in a world where israel is one of a family in my view, a family of western
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democratic nations. we have common dlthreats. we have common interests, but particularly common threats. and i tell people what is the difference between our values and israel's, none. the only difference between the threats we face in canada, you face in the united states, our allies face in israel is that israel is much closer to those threats than we are. and so i believe as prime minister of canada we have a very simple choice, that we stand by israel and we stand against those threats or we watch those threats come daily to our own shores. 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 ] >> so as you look back on your tenure as prime minister, what
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do you know consider to be your top prierorities and achievemen in that bilateral things. i mean, 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 canass. and to get a key to the canasas. >> ever. >> we did, we modernized our free trade agreement. there's a number of bilateral agreements we undertook in terms of science and technology, other things. but the two things i'm most proud of are these. and i know one very strongly supported here. our government, the government i led, john barrett, our foreign affaired minister -- give him a hand. we consistently refused to be bullied into signing one-sided
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international resolutions against the state of israel. and i am very proud of that. because it was the right thing to do. but also, because we took those stands and because we made strong and i think convincing arguments for 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 word you used. you said we refuse to be bullied. >> right. >> bullied? >> yeah, look. i guess what i call bullying, frank, is this. i call it argumentation without actually using compelling arguments. you see this all the time in international affairs, and many things. people try to convince you, you should agree to something simply because everyone else is doing it. and just peer pressure alone. and i guess i'm the kind of guy that by nach if someone presents
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me with an argument and i don't agree with it and they resort to bullying, resort to pressure as opposed to persuasive argument, i dig in more strongly. i became more and more convinced on this issue is that my position was correct. what happened is 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 distressing is privately the number of leaders who agreed with my view but simply didn't want to break consensus because it was so important to them. >> pauldices and diplomacy collide, right? what can be done in your view to address the anti-israel criticisms and resolutions that churn up in these international organization, united nations, and elsewhere. can you offer any people in the room here, israelis and others, any perspective, and even hope about that, because this is as predictable as the sunrise?
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>> 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 -- [ applause ] >> 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 a decision that we would find
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as democratic nations terribly pleasing. but look, it is outrageous. it is outrageous that, just one example, i know others know these things, but 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 standard. yet, there is virtual hero worship there of the palestinian authority whose leader has had no democratic mandate in 12 years and who rules by decree because there is no elected legislature of any kind. no outrage about that whatsoever. so look, i don't think we can change the complexion of the united nations, but none of that, i tell my friends here and in canada, none of that is an
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excuse for western leaders, for the leaders of our country not standing up for what is right and is in our own interests in defending one of our most vital allies, the state of israel. i will also say this. that not withstanding 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 a growing number of countries around the world. that is real success. it will eventually turn that, and i think the president government of israel deserves a lot of compliments for that succe success. >> we heard that earlier from leaders in africa moving on number of fronts, just one place. in your view, you have your -- you're freed from the burden of leadership. you can say whatever you want, right? >> that's what journalists always tell you. >> you just have a few friends
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in the room. on a serious note, what the greatest threat as you look at the region now facing israel, and for that matter, the west as a whole in today's middle east? >> there are, i think, three threats to israel of real significance. the first and by far the most pressing, because it is the one sort of existential strategic threat to israel, and that is the iranian regime. it's the possibility that regime could obtain nuclear weapons. it is, you know, if you look at israel's history from 1947, for so much of that period, there were existential threats to israel right on its borders. that simply doesn't exist today. there are bad groups, there are terrorists who can fire rockets and create a certain amount of havoc and kidnapping or injuries, but they don't
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threaten israel in the way israel was threatened in the 1960s, 1970s, when i was a young -- when i was a boy and a young man. that existential threat alone is the government of iran. look, how we really stop iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is something that frankly has always been above the capacity of the government of canada. i just think it is critical that this country and that with the support of our allies that we do everything in our power, whatever step is ultimately necessary to stop that fanatical regime from ever achieving nuclear weapons capabilities. second threat, longer term, not as immediate, but the spread of that sort of shia theocracy, it doesn't threaten israel today,
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but it threatens every state in that region, and there's certainly a danger that if we can't contain or control this over time that israel just becomes surrounded by this enormous range of ungoverned spaces with groups of that kind of fanaticism. so that's an obvious second problem. you know, requires our considered interventions. it's why as 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 as americans. and that is the bds movement. there has been, i have seen this in my political lifetime, the bds movement being the principal vehicle. one can disagree with the
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israeli government's policies in this aspect of 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 in calling for the boycott sanctions and divesting in israel, the bds movement in doing things like trying to have israeli academics expelled or not allowed, having jewish students harassed, these are its realities. my son, you know, came home from his university campus a couple years ago, and showed me a sign by the bds movement, star of david with a slash through it, the whole thing could have come from berlin in 1938. it is incumbent upon all of us. there are times, particularly as canadians, but there are times when we see things we disagree
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with, we act with excessive 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. [ applause ] >> prime minister, you have had a unique view of history and a unique voice, and we thank you for that, and we thank you for your time here this evening and for your clear-eyed vision and your conference. thank you very much. sunday night on q&a -- >> a dominant power in the middle east, and it was everywhere in decline. and nationalists were rising up. so the big strategic question
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that the u.s. faced was, should it support britain against the rising nationalists or try to create a new order by mediating between the nationalists and the british. >> senior fellow michael duran on his book "ike's gamble, america's rise to dominance in the middle east" about the suez crisis and its aftermath. >> what he's trying to present is the soviet union coming in aligning with the nationalists, taking control of the oil of the middle east. and we cared about the oil because it was 100% of european oil came from the middle east. so we wanted to make sure that we had friendly arab regimes that were -- if not aligned with the united states, as least keep the soviet union out. that's the goal. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> c-span's washington journal, live every day, with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tuesday morning, tax
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foundation economist kyle will frame the upcoming congressional debate on tax reform and examine democratic, republican, bipartisan proposals. then north carolina republican congressman walter jones and california democratic congressman john garamendi will join us to discuss a bill they co-sponsored calling for a complete withdrawal from troops from afghanistan. be sure to watch "washington journal" tuesday morning. join the discussion. >> white house press secretary sean spicer was joined by attorney general jeff sessions at today's press briefing to talk about immigration and the issue of sanctuary cities. this is an hour. >> hi, guys. good afternoon. i hope everyone had a great weekend. seriously. monday, so i brought a special guest. first, i would like to

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