An online petition on Change.org is calling on the Norwegian Nobel Committee to reject Prime Minister’s Stephen Harper pending nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Meanwhile, Canadians reacting to the proposal seem to be echoing this fact: Harper is no Lester B. Pearson, the late Canadian intellectual, soldier, diplomat and former prime minister who was awarded the prestigious prize in 1957 for his role in resolving the Suez Canal Crisis.
Last week, Frank Dimant, the CEO of the B’nai Brith Canada, announced that his organization would nominate Harper for the prestigious award. Making what he believes is a strong case, Dimant said Harper had maintained “moral clarity” and “outstanding moral leadership” by unequivocally supporting Israel’s recent full-scale military operation in Gaza, code-named Operation Protective Edge.
“Moral clarity has been lost across much of the world, with terror, hatred and antisemitism filling the void,” said Dimant. “Throughout, there has been one leader which has demonstrated international leadership and a clear understanding of the differences between those who would seek to do evil, and their victims.”
Palestinian health officials estimate that more than 2,100 people, most of them civilians, were killed during the 50-day Gaza conflict. That includes 490 children. Israel lost 64 soldiers and six civilians. Speaking on Democracy Now! in July, Henry Siegman, the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress, described the deaths in Gaza as “a slaughter of innocents.”
Harper reads the situation differently. As soon as the conflict begun in early July, he reiterated his unequivocal support of Israel. He never changed his position.
“Canada is unequivocally behind Israel. We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians,” Harper said in a statement. “Canada reiterates its call for the Palestinian government to disarm Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups operating in Gaza, including the Iranian proxy, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
Harper and Canadians are NOT on the same page:
— Rick Barnes (@queerthoughts) September 3, 2014
A few post-ceasefire developments have tested Harper’s worth as a global leader and potential Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
For example, according to Ma’an News Agency, Israel announced Sunday it was grabbing 1,000 acres of “private Palestinian land south of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank.” Israel’s traditional allies immediately condemned the seizure, described by Haaretz as the “biggest West Bank land appropriation in 30 years.” The U.S. State Department called the appropriation “deeply concerning” and “counterproductive,” and urged Israel to “reverse the decision.” According to Peace Now, “the leading voice of Israeli public pressure for peace,” the seizure is “proof that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not aspire for a new ‘Diplomatic Horizon’ but rather, he continues to put obstacles to the two state vision and promote a one state solution.”
So far, Harper has said nothing. The Change.org petitioners see a monumental failure of Canadian leadership. One that cannot be celebrated with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
“We the undersigned feel that the Norwegian Nobel Committee accepting the nomination from B’nai Brith Canada of PM Stephen Harper would be a disgrace and insult to your prestigious award,” says the petition, which has so far garnered 14,300 signatures.
A few more voices from the social media:
HARPER is nominated for the Nobel prize. They can hand him his prize at the ICC. He will be there for his cimplicity with war criminals. — amer husain (@timeofaquarius) August 30, 2014
We’d probably never know what Frank Dimant was thinking when he nominated Harper for the Nobel Peace Prize. But we can find solace in the fact that similar ridiculous proposals have been made before. In July, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, proposed that the Israeli army be give the Nobel Peace Prize for its Gaza operation.
Most importantly, we can find solace in the fact that Stephen Harper would never win the Nobel Peace Prize.