What struck me about Stephen Harper’s speech yesterday to the International Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism is the absence of rhetoric.
It lacks the high rhetoric style. It doesn’t sound like Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Barak Obama. It doesn’t sound like Winston Churchill. He doesn’t present himself as an exceptional person, someone privy to special knowledge.
He said: “It is freedom that makes us human. Whether it leads to heroism or depravity depends on how we use it. Let us not forget that even in the darkest hours of the Holocaust, men were free to choose good. And some did. That is the eternal witness of the Righteous Among the Nations.”
He describes exactly the temptation that we have all experienced, that we are all experiencing: “I know… the easy thing to do is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of “honest broker.”
Mr. Harper experienced the temptation at gatherings of world leaders, and at the United Nations. I’ve experienced it in debates on the Internet, in social gatherings. A quiet voice whispers: “don’t respond; save yourself; don’t get involved.”
I am reading excerpts from Mr. Harper’s speech that are circulating on the Internet. I am in tears.
Posted by Janet Ajzenstat
[From The Idea file]