Why is Canada’s evangelical Christian Prime Minister heading to Israel?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) in Ottawa, Canada. March 02, 2012. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/ Flash90/Times of Israel)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) in Ottawa, Canada. March 02, 2012. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/ Flash90/Times of Israel)

“It took seven years, but one of Israel’s staunchest allies among world leaders will be making his maiden voyage to the Jewish state on Sunday,” reports the Times of Israel and the JTA. “In announcing the trip last month at a Jewish National Fund dinner, where he was being honored, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Israel “a light of freedom and democracy in what is otherwise a region of darkness” and pledged that the Jewish state ‘will always have Canada as a friend.’”

Excerpts from the article:

  • Since his election in 2006, the Conservative prime minister has been full throated, unapologetic and seemingly indifferent to consequence in his support for Israel.
  • Harper was the first Western leader to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority following Hamas’ 2006 seizure of power in Gaza and the first to withdraw from the second U.N. World Conference Against Racism, known as Durban II, saying the event would “scapegoat the Jewish people.”
  • Canada has sided openly with Israel in every one of its military operations since 2006. Harper’s Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, calls him Stephen, and the two speak regularly.
  • Earlier this month, Harper appointed Vivian Bercovici, a Toronto lawyer and an outspoken Israel supporter, as Canada’s ambassador to Israel.
  • Harper has backed Israel with such fervor that some scholars and diplomats “rank it as the most dramatic shift in the history of postwar Canadian foreign policy,” according to journalist Marci McDonald’s 2011 book, “The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada.”
  • The jolting change has left many of Canada’s 375,000 Jews swooning following decades in which Ottawa sought a more neutral posture toward Israel. And they have repaid the good will: Polls showed that for the first time, more than half of Canadian Jews (52 percent) voted for Harper’s Tories in the 2011 election, a historic departure from their traditional base in the Liberal Party.
  • Observers agree that Harper, an evangelical Christian, stands to gain little by supporting Israel and in fact may be paying a price. Canada failed in its 2010 bid for a seat on the U.N. Security Council for the first time, a result some attributed to its foreign policy in general and support for Israel in particular.
  • Politically, Harper also has little to gain and much to lose. The shift in Jewish voting has helped Conservatives only in about 10 of Canada’s 308 electoral districts, though Jewish voters in three key Toronto-area districts helped replace Liberal members of parliament with Conservatives, two of whom are Jewish themselves. Among Muslims, a community roughly triple the size of Jews in Canada, Harper won a meager 12 percent in the last election.
  • “I do think his support for Israel is a principled one because he will stand to lose more non-Jewish votes than gain Jewish ones by his forthright defense of the country,” said Henry Srebrnik, who got to know Harper when he taught at the University of Calgary in the early 1990s and Harper represented the city in the House of Commons. “I doubt there was any sudden epiphany when it comes to Israel, but more likely a growing, and probably somewhat religiously based, admiration for the Jewish state.”
  • Harper is Canada’s first evangelical prime minister in 50 years, and most observers accept that his faith plays some role in his support for Israel. Toronto Rabbi Philip Scheim, who will accompany Harper to Israel, dismissed the notion that Harper’s support for Israel is part of an “end-of-days, apocalyptic scenario.”
  • “I sense that he sees Israel as a manifestation of justice and a righting of historical wrongs, especially in light of the Holocaust,” Scheim said.

To read the rest of the article, please click here.


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Israel’s Prime Minister wishes Christians a “Merry Christmas” from snowy Jerusalem.

Israel's Prime Minister wishes "Merry Christmas" to Christians around the world.

Israel’s Prime Minister wishes “Merry Christmas” to Christians around the world.

From the City of Peace, Jerusalem, I extend the warmest Christmas greetings to all of you — Merry Christmas!” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a short holiday video released on YouTube today.

Speaking to Christians in Israel and around the world, Netanyahu said, “We celebrate Christmas with you, we know the importance you attach to our common heritage, to the State of Israel, and to the city of Jerusalem, where so much of our common history was forged.”

As I reported earlier, an estimated 75,000 Christian pilgrims are now in Israel to celebrate Christmas. Many will visit Bethlehem, especially tonight on Christmas Eve.

By the time the Christmas season is over, ”about two million people will have visited Bethlehem in 2013,” which Israeli tourism officials note is “almost double the 2012 figure of 1.18 million” people.

The Prime Minister’s warm relationship with the Christian world notwithstanding, Israelis have mixed views about celebrating Christmas. Many are deeply grateful for the friendship of the international Christian community and supportive of — or at the least tolerant of — the followers of Jesus in the epicenter. Others carry wounds from historical tensions between Christians and Jews and feel uncomfortable with displays of Christmas. In some cases, discussion of Christmas provokes political debates between Israelis and Palestinians. Here are a few articles and columns in recent days on the subject.


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Is the Prime Minister correct? Are Bible prophecies coming to pass “in our time”? Conference in NYC to address this subject October 3-5. Please join us.

WebSaveTheDate.inddUPDATED WITH NEW HEADLINES — SEE BELOW: (Washington, D.C.) — As the week began, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered an historic address in New York City in which he told the gathered world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly opening session that “in our time the Biblical prophecies are being realized.”

What did the Prime Minister mean? Is it true that Biblical prophecies are coming to pass in our lifetime? If so, which ones, and what might be coming next? What does the Bible say about the future of Israel?

As the week comes to a close, a special conference is taking place in New York City — “The People, The Land, and The Future of Israel (Oct 3-5)” — which will bring together some of the leading theologians in the Western world to address these and related questions:

  • What does the Bible teach about the role of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel at the present time?
  • What is God’s plan for the future of Israel and her neighbors?
  • How can believers in Jesus be part of God’s peace process in the Middle East?

The timing is quite interesting. I am deeply honored to have been invited to participate, and am greatly looking forward to speaking in several sessions, including delivering the final message at the close of the conference on Saturday evening. My focus will be understanding current trends in Israel, Iran, Syria, and the Mideast peace process in light of Bible prophecy. The pastor of Calvary Baptist Church has also asked me to preach during their Sunday morning services. There I will be focusing on Israel and key elements of Bible prophecy, as well.

To see the full conference schedule, please click here.

That said, even if I wasn’t speaking at the conference, I would be attending just to hear the caliber of the scholars who will be presenting. They are men I hold in high regard. Their research and writing has been helpful to me, and it will be a joy to be gathered with them in one place.

This CPM conference will be held at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan. If you live anywhere near Manhattan, I hope you will register today and join us. Indeed, even if you don’t live near New York, I’d strongly encourage you to prayerfully consider attending any way. It will be that useful and important, especially in the light of current events and the Prime Minister’s fascinating and historic words.

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Senior Israeli minister: Iran is on course to develop a nuclear bomb in 6 months: Does that mean Israel is preparing to strike? (Listen to “Damascus Countdown” as an audiobook.)

damascuscountdown-audiobook>> Senior Israeli minister: Iran is on course to develop a nuclear bomb in 6 months

(Washington, D.C.) — With the eyes of the world riveted on Syria, Iran and Israel — and interest in the current crisis, the prospect of a possible coming larger war, and the prophecies of Isaiah 17 & Jeremiah 49 concerning the future of Damascus growing — I’m getting emails, Facebook comments and Tweets asking me many questions about my recent novel, Damascus Countdown. It’s encouraging to see people so engaged in the book and the scenario it portrays, and curious about what the future really holds.

That said, not everyone who is interested in such things has the time to sit down read a work of fiction given their already busy lives.

So I’m very grateful to Brilliance Audio for producing Damascus Countdown — and all of my works of fiction and non-fiction — as audiobooks.

These audiobooks are available in abridged and unabridged formats, on CD, on MP3, and versions that can be immediately downloaded onto your iPod, or into iPhone, Android or other smart phones.

I love listening to all kinds of audio books, fiction and non-fiction, on my phone, whether I’m doing errands, driving long distances, on an airplanes (and I do a lot of flying), or on vacation.

If you haven’t listened to one of my books on audio yet, Damascus Countdown might be a good place to start.

You can find my audio books — produced by Brilliance — at your favorite local book retailer, and/or online through retailers such as:

>> Podcast #8: Joel addresses Iran Alive Ministries Banquet in Dallas, TX, on Jeremiah 49:34-39 and the future of Iran (9/13/13).


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog