And what threatens them, or more precisely, what today threatens the societies that embrace such values and the progress they nurture?
Those who scorn modernity, who loathe the liberty of others, and who hold the differences of peoples and cultures in contempt. Those who, often begin by hating the Jews, but, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them. Those forces, which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence, and which, today, as 9/11 graphically showed us, threaten us all.
And so, either we stand up for our values and our interests, here, in Israel, stand up for the existence of a free, democratic and distinctively Jewish state or the retreat of our values and our interests in the world will begin.
Ladies and gentlemen, just as we refuse to retreat from our values, so we must also uphold the duty to advance them.
And our commitment as Canadians to what is right, fair and just is a universal one.
It applies no less to the Palestinian people, than it does to the people of Israel.
Just as we unequivocally support Israel’s right of self-defence, so too Canada has long-supported a just and secure future for the Palestinian people.
And, I believe, we share with Israel a sincere hope that the Palestinian people and their leaders… will choose a viable, democratic, Palestinian state, committed to living peacefully alongside the Jewish state of Israel.
As you, Prime Minister [Netanyahu], have said, when Palestinians make peace with Israel, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations — it will be the first.
Sadly, we have yet to reach that point.
But, when that day comes, and come it must, I can tell you that Israel may be the first to welcome a sovereign Palestinian state, but Canada will be right behind you.
Ladies and gentlemen, support – even firm support – doesn’t mean that allies and friends will agree on all issues all of the time.
No state is beyond legitimate questioning or criticism.
But our support does mean at least three things.
First, Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Israel.
Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable.
Second, Canada believes that Israel should be able to exercise its full rights as a UN member-state and to enjoy the full measure of its sovereignty.
For this reason, Canada has spoken on numerous occasions in support of Israel’s engagement and equal treatment in multilateral fora.
And, in this regard, I should mention that we welcome Israel’s induction this month into the western, democratic group of states at the United Nations.
Third, we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.
Now I understand, in the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy “to go along to get along” and single out Israel.
But such “going along to get along,” is not a “balanced” approach, nor a “sophisticated” one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong.
Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant.
And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.
“And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain.
We all know about the old anti-Semitism.
It was crude and ignorant, and it led to the horrors of the death camps.
Of course, in many dark corners, it is still with us.
But, in much of the Western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society.
People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.
As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel.
On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.
Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.
Think about that.
Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.