Israel’s Best Friend – STEPHEN HARPER

By Nic Lesmeister - MJBI President and CEO
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Posted in Featured Articles, Zealous Magazine, on September 26, 2018

Not since the MJBI hosted President George W. Bush as our special banquet guest in 2013 have I been as excited and humbled about an MJBI speaker. The opportunities that each of us have to meet and spend an evening with a truly influential world leader are very rare. To be the head of a major Western country is an amazing achievement. For this reason, I would like to take a moment to introduce you to our honored VIP for this November’s event.

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper is the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada, serving from 2006-2015. Prime Minister Harper held office the 6th longest of all Canadian heads of state, and he was the first Evangelical Christian prime minister when he took office since 1964.

As a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance church, Mr. Harper led a deeply conservative government during his time as the head of the Great White North. But these wonderful things are not what made him famous on the international stage — his unflinching support of Israel did.



Mr. Harper was born in Toronto to Joe and Margaret Johnson. Joe had lived through World War II and, as a committed Presbyterian Christian, was horrified at the atrocities of the Holocaust. His son, Stephen, would later credit his father with being his greatest influence in life. In speeches about his childhood, Mr. Harper has recalled his father’s love and respect of the Jewish people, that he taught his sons of their biblical status as a Chosen People, and that, in the wake of the Holocaust, they deserved kindness.

From this childhood foundation, Mr. Harper rose through Canadian politics to become the leader of the Conservative Party, which gained the largest number of seats in the 2006 federal elections, making Stephen Harper the Prime Minister of Canada.

Two short years later, President George W. Bush finished his two terms as President, and the United States elected Barack Obama as our 44th President. Not nearly as friendly to the United States’ long-time ally, Israel, President Obama set the stage for a new Western leader to emerge as a stalwart ally of the Jewish State. That man was Stephen Harper.



In April 2009, the United Nations held their second World Conference Against Racism, which was thereafter called  Durban II  as the first conference was held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. Though cloaked in an otherwise righteous name, the conference was known widely as an anti-Israel gathering under the guise of broader racism. Holocaust denier and anti-Semite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then the President of Iran, was scheduled to deliver a speech on the first day. A full year and a half before the conference, Canada made major international headlines when Mr. Harper announced the country would be boycotting the conference due to its blatant anti-Israel bias. Mr. Harper was widely criticized by the international community at first but was joined in the boycott by the United States the next year.

Three years later, in November 2012, the United Nations (again) was set for another anti-Israel ruse. The Palestinian Authority had been working numerous angles to attain international recognition as a State since being formed at the Oslo Accords in 1993. After applying for UN membership in 2011, they were able to advance a vote on November 29, 2012, in an attempt to change their status from “observer” to “non-member observer state” and be officially recognized as the State of Palestine on the pre-1967 Israeli borders.

Prime Minister Harper rejected the statehood bid in the UN, reiterating that the only solution to this conflict was one negotiated by both sides, not by the United Nations. Canada was only one of nine countries who voted “NO” on the General Assembly resolution (joined also by the United States). However, the resolution passed 138-9, giving the Palestinian Authority the new name, “State of Palestine,” and a new status equal to that of the Vatican.

In January 2014, Prime Minister Harper took his first ever trip to Israel. Breaking tradition with nearly every world leader, his first stop in Jerusalem was on the Mount of Olives where he took in the breathtaking view of the ancient city. After this, he became the first Canadian prime minister to give a speech in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. His speech was so firmly pro-Israel that some Jewish organizations in Canada called it “too pro-Israel.” The speech was so direct and honest that one Arab Member of the Knesset stood up in the middle of it, heckled Mr. Harper, and walked out after Mr. Harper declared Israel is not an apartheid state. At a dinner later that evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the audience that Mr. Harper is a true friend of Israel.



In the summer of 2014, after three Israeli teens were kidnapped and killed by the Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, a war broke out between Israel and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. With thousands of missiles being fired into Israel over a period of two and a half months, Israel responded by attacking Hamas bases in Gaza.

Western leaders around the world defended Israel’s right to defend itself at first, but began to quickly turn against the Jewish State when the international media slanted the escalation of violence as an attack on innocent Palestinians who were tragically dying while Hamas used them as human shields. One of the only Western leaders who stood unequivocally beside Israel was Prime Minister Harper.

Consistently reiterating Israel’s right to self-defense, Mr. Harper also recognized the evil manipulations Hamas was using to win the sympathy of the international media. He was one of the only world leaders to consistently condemn Hamas’ use of schools, hospitals, and homes as weapons storage, as well as their use of innocent Palestinians as human shields against Israel’s bombings on their rocket launch sites. In fact, during Mr. Harper’s time as the Canadian head of state, Canada sided with Israel in every major military event from 2006 to 2015.

Outside of Israel, Prime Minister Harper similarly stood on lonely ground when he directly rebuked Russia for invading Ukraine in February 2014. He called for Russia to be removed from the Group of Eight (G8) immediately, and he even told Vladimir Putin in person, “You need to get out of Ukraine.” Later in 2014, Prime Minister Harper also approved Canadian forces to join the strikes against ISIS in Syria, sending Canadian aircraft and special forces to coordinate with the coalition in their attempts to stop the Islamic jihadists.



After resigning from office in November 2015, Mr. Harper took a break from politics and the international limelight. With his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics and an honorary PhD from Tel Aviv University, he went into the business world.

As the 70th anniversary of Israel approached, as well as the moving of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, former Prime Minister Harper began to become more active again. He signed his name to a group of world leaders who agreed with President Trump on pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal and on the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. He has spoken at six Israel-related events already in 2018 and is releasing a new book this fall.

While he was in Israel in 2014, Mr. Harper made one of the most powerful affirmations of friendship any world leader has made to the State of Israel. He vowed that “through fire and water” Canada would stand with Israel because, fundamentally, “it is right to do so.”

What an honor for us to host former Prime Minister Harper at “Before Our Eyes: Jerusalem Redeemed,” our annual banquet that will take place on November 15, 2018. I am completely certain you will be changed by the testimony and special insight of this great man.

It is rare for any of us to have the opportunity to meet and listen to a man called “Israel’s staunchest supporter.” I am really looking forward to our evening with Mr. Harper. Come prepared to become an even greater friend and supporter of Israel and the Jewish people, and bring as many of your close friends and associates as you can. This will be one of the most special banquets in our 23-year history!



  • 2006: Supported Israel’s right to defend itself in the Israel-Lebanon war
  • 2011: Staunchly opposed the Palestinian Authority’s attempt of statehood at the United Nations
  • 2012: Led Canada to be one of only nine countries to vote “NO” on the United Nations vote that approved the Palestinian Authority as a non-member observer at the UN
  • 2014: Became the first Canadian prime minister to give a speech in the Israeli Knesset (parliament)
  • 2014: Firmly stood with Israel over Gaza border violence, affirming Israel’s right to self-defense
  • 2015: Received the King David Award from the Montreal Jewish Community
  • 2017: Encouraged world leaders to “Never fear supporting Israel” at the United Israel Appeal gathering in Sydney, Australia
  • MAY 2018: Affirmed President Trump’s withdrawal of the Iran nuclear deal.
  • MAY 2018: Penned op-ed in Jerusalem Post reiterating his support of Israel on 70th anniversary, applauded President Trump’s move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and called for Canada to move their embassy to Jerusalem
  • JUNE 2018: Received an honorary degree from Jerusalem College of Technology
  • NOVEMBER 15, 2018: Will be spending the evening with you and your special guests at the 17th annual MJBI banquet!

Learn More About the MJBI Banquet >