Prime Minister Stephen Harper painted his political rivals as fairweather friends of Israel and said he will stand by the Jewish state even if costs him politically.
"We got a pretty sharp reminder that it's one thing to offer supportive words to Israel when it's convenient," he said.
"And (it's) quite another to stand firm in its hour of need. . . When it was not popular to do so, we stood and told the truth. Israel had a friend that mattered.
"And that, my friends, is the only thing that really counts."
Addressing the same audience later Tuesday evening, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion warned that the cause of Israel should never be treated as a domestic political football.
"Supporting the right of Israel to exist in a secure and peaceful Middle East is not a Liberal cause or a Conservative cause," Dion said in the prepared text of his remarks.
"It is not, and it must never be. It is a Canadian cause. It is the common cause of every democracy.
"That's why I am so proud to be here tonight, not just as a Liberal but as a Canadian, to toast Israel and Canada's partnership with her."
The Liberal Party is not "anti-Israel", and it really grates me that Harper favors scoring cheap political points with a desirable constituent, rather than act like a statesman. Dion, on the other hand, states the obvious and attempts to bring the issue back where it belongs, beyond partisan politics. Despite Harper simplistic analysis of the Lebanon conflict, the entire affair had many layers. Showing some concern for innocent civilians doesn't translate into "anti-Israel". I guess the American administration's recent concerns about the use of cluster bombs means that Israel has lost another friend.
The way Harper approaches Israel is quite revealing. It tells us that Harper likes to frame issues as us vs them, it's divisive and shows no understanding of nuance. Harper also shows us his hyper-politicism, that makes everything partisan, every sentence targeted. Harper already has credibility with the Jewish community, it does him no favors to take the low road to further his support- but, he can't help himself, as he demonstrates time and time again. Harper says Canada will be more "assertive" on the world stage, the more he articulates his approach, the more he should stay home, it's embarrassing.
BTW, history will view the war in Lebanon as a colossal failure, that did exactly what detractors envisoned- emboldened extremists and sent Lebanon back into chaos that will only further de-stabilize the region. History will also show, if it hasn't already, that there was nothing "measured" about the entire affair. Is Israel safer as a result of this war, the recent evidence screams no.