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Bibi on Canadian Campuses

Jewish students had made arrangements for a live speech by Benjamin Netanyahu (via a video conference) throughout participating universities in Canada at approximately 1 p.m. Eastern Time today. Bibi would have been in Jerusalem at 8 p.m. Israeli time. However, because of the Israeli budget crisis, he taped the brief speech in advance. The tape was played and then a close assistant answered a few questions via a video conference from Jerusalem. But before all that, a Conservative MP from (and in) Canada gave a nice speech in which he, in essence, supported WWIV.

Note that this is not a transcript. I am writing this from notes and memory. The whole situation was quite hush hush. I only found out during the weekend that students had arranged a live feed from Jerusalem in multiple universities for Bibi. Even then, I only knew about the day, not the time and place. I found that out yesterday. The sources will remain confidential. After the disgraceful behavior of students at Concordia, this had to be.

First, all the groups and guests who came were acknowledged. Then, Pierre Poilievre, a Conservative MP, gave a 16-minute speech. He started off by saying that he got a call asking him if he believed in free speech. He replied, "Of course!"

The caller then asked, "Well, how about giving one?"

He mentioned that political statisticians had studied the past 200 wars and maybe 3 or 4 of them were between democracies. So, democracies are inherently peaceful. The situation in the Middle East is not Jew vs. Arab but rather freedom vs. tyranny.

He said that it would appear to be in Canadian national interest to support the Arab dictatorships since they're more in number and they have the oil. But it's in Canada's "enlightened national interest" to support the only democracy in the Middle East.

He mentioned that he had been to Israel twice and that the last time he had visited an Arab-owned business along the coast. All were welcome there. The owner asked him to come again next year when he would have better food, facilities, and air-conditioning. That was not to be. Three weeks after he left, the place was destroyed by terrorists who couldn't stand the freedom of this Muslim.

He went further and said that Afghanistan and Iraq are now democracies and thus not a threat to Canada. He asked the audience if they could think of one democracy that's a threat to Canada. He certainly couldn't. Also, when, not if, the Lebanese have freedom from the Assad regime, they'll be a great friend and trading partner of Israel.

He ended* by saying that never in Canada will a person be denied the right to free speech.

Heavy applause.

After a half hour wait, we found out that Bibi was busy and couldn't make it for the live speech and the following Q&A, so he recorded his speech earlier, and the questions were answered by his close assistant.

Benjamin Netanyahu looked very tired. The recorded audio was quite low. Plus, it seemed that another audio feed was kept alive which reduced the clarity even further. He basically said that before the Jews arrived, Judea and Samaria were empty desert. Mark Twain had written about this and so had a prominent Englishman (Abby?). But Arafat and the Palestinians say that the Arabs had been living there long before that. So, either Mark Twain and this Englishman are lying or the Palestinians are lying. He talked about other issues as well but the audio quality was so poor that I couldn't make out the meaning. I heard Arafat, Palestinians, Leftists, etc.

This was disappointing. Both the quality of the feed and the fact that the Israeli government will fall if they don't pass the budget by the end of this month. This meant that Bibi was understandably busy. At least, it can't get worse. Technology keeps on improving. This time, I think, eight universities were involved across Canada. With better co-ordination in the future Bibi could give a crisp speech on many campuses across the world. I do commend the ingenuity and effort of the folks who arranged this event. All praise to Allah, there weren't any brick throwing members of the Religion of PeaceTM outside our building.

I think the person who answered the questions was Netanyahu's Chief of Staff. He answered a total of 7 questions in real time. These follow in the order they were asked.

Q1: The Israeli Jews have a lower birth rate than the Israeli Arabs. What can we do about this demographic problem?
A1: The demography of Israel has been quite stable over the past 5 decades. Jews have been around 75-80% of Israel's population for some time now. Jews from other countries have settled in Israel as well. For example, in the last decade, about 1 million Jews migrated from the former Soviet Union to call Israel their home. There isn't really much a problem.

Q2: What can we, the Zionists, do when all across campuses Zionism is seen as a taboo?
You must have courage. You must speak the truth again and again. Keep on explaining about the Jewish homeland. Look at the current US president who is courageous. It's all about freedom and democracy. Democracy in South America, Eastern Europe, and now the only superpower is bringing democracy to the Middle East.

Q3: The US has recently made vague statements about Judea and Samaria? How do you respond to this?
I would tell you to look at the speech made by President Bush on June 24, 2002. President Bush wants complete cessation of terror from the Palestinian side. When that is done, the talk of a Palestinian state will begin. But that is not happening. You don't stop terror by co-opting it. You don't stop terror by co-opting Islamic Jihad. You don't stop terror by co-opting Hamas. "Terrorists aren't policemen." You stop terror by collecting all the weapons from the terrorists and that's not being done.

There are places in Judea and Samaria that we won't give up because they compromise our life. There all hills from which one can look down upon 70% of Israel's population. We won't give them up.

Q4: Where do you see the final borders of Israel?
I can't say. If the terror stops, then we can negotiate and provide majority Arab areas and keep majority Jewish ones. However, every area imperative for security has to be kept.

Q5: What do you say to people who think that Israel is a colonial and oppressor state?
I say they are wrong. I would ask them where they want to live in the Middle East. Egypt, where there is one man on the ballot; Lebanon or Syria, where a dictator and now his son have ruled; Saudi Arabia, where women, the majority of the population, have no rights.

The most free Arabs live in Israel.

When war was upon us in 1967, we sent a diplomat to Jordan who told them to stay out of the war. We knew Syria and Egypt were going to attack and thus didn't want Jordan on their side. Jordan refused and did attack us. We wouldn't give up lands which we took because of our defense. We treat the people there nicely and give them rights. What do we get in return? The intifada--a war on innocents. If roadblocks save lives, then we have to put them up. I don't like roadblocks. But he have to put roadblocks to protect Jewish lives.

Q6: Arafat stated that Israelis are oppressors and Palestinians the victims. Netanyahu stated the opposite. Is the truth in the middle?
Arafat was offered 95% of the land he wanted. He refused the offer and launched the intifada. Every negotiation is violated, so no middle ground there. All we get is lies. Just look at today. We have got the Knesset where we get some heatly debated arguments. Look at the PA, it's a dictatorship. They have to purge themselves of terrorists. They have to de-toxify. Then we'll have a middle ground.

Q7: The Israeli government has cut education spending. Israeli economy is powered by highly educated folk. So, isn't this cut bad for the economy?
Benjamin Netanyahu provided me a great example about this very situation. He said when he trained in the military, there was a queue and they were told to grab the guy standing next to them and run 100m. Now, of course, there were guys of all sizes. If you had a big guy next to you and you were small, then you'd collapse in a few seconds but if you had a small guy next to you and you were big, then you'd run all the 100m.

That's how our economy was before Netanyahu became the finance minister. The government was the big guy and the economy, which was small, had to hold him up. The top income tax rate was 63%. The rate on business was 45%. Our population in the last decade or so had grown by 30%, yet the government spending had increased by almost 600%. What we have done is cut the fat. There were people in universities who were doing nothing but couldn't be fired because they had tenure. We have cut salaries and made government slim. As a result, our economy is growing at 4.2%; the fastest rate of any democracy.

At this point there was supposed to be a question from the University of Manitoba but they had technical difficulties.
The Israeli politician responded by asking if Canada had given up Manitoba. Has there been territorial compromise with Manitoba? We laughed. He finished by saying that we shouldn't be afraid. Jews have come to this point after thousands of years. We shouldn't be afraid to defend ourselves in public. He thanked the students for organizing this event across six time zones. He'll be happy to participate in the future.

After re-reading the post, I realized that the conservative MP actually ended with this: when I was in Israel, I heard the story of a Rabbi and one of his students. The student thought that the Rabbi knew everything. The student would quiz him about every topic and the Rabbi would always have the answer. One day the student asked the Rabbi if the butterfly in his hand was dead or alive? You see if the Rabbi answered alive, the student would kill the butterfly, if the Rabbi answered dead, he would release the butterfly to fly off to the heavens.

The student again asked the question, "Is the butterfly dead or alive?"

The Rabbi looked at him for a few moments and replied, "The answer is in your hand."


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