Yerushalayim City Council member Dan Illouz (Hitorerut) on Tuesday officially nominated former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (2006-2015) for the honor of having a Yerushalayim street named after him.
Though tradition dictates that the honor be reserved for individuals who have been dead for at least three years, exceptions may be made—and “Harper is a strong case for such an exception,” Illouz told JNS. “Throughout his time in office, he was, and continues to be today, a devoted friend of Israel,” he said.
Harper was the first Western leader to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006. In 2009, he was the first to withdraw from the infamous Durban Review Conference, saying the event would “scapegoat the Jewish people.” In a 2014 Knesset speech, Harper committed to support Israel “through fire and water.” He is also known for changing Canada’s voting record in the United Nations in support of the Jewish state, ending funding to UNRWA, opposing Iran’s nuclear program, promoting investment in Israeli security and intelligence and modernizing trade agreements between Israel and Canada to increase trade and business connections.
“It is in recognition of this significant support that I seek to honor Harper with a street name in the capital city. Doing so during Harper’s lifetime would show the world how Israel treats its friends, which would be a big step for diplomatic relations,” said Illouz.
During Harper’s visit to Israel in September of this year, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman wrote on Twitter: “I can think of few if any world leaders who have been better friends of Israel over the past generation [than Harper].”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also expressed appreciation for Harper’s devout support of Israel.
According to Illouz, “Stephen Harper has always stood by Israel in a principled way, preferring to stand on the side of freedom and democracy rather than succumb to international pressure. He is a true friend who deserves to be recognized in the eternal city of Jerusalem.”
Naming a street after him would demonstrate Israel’s appreciation of Harper’s staunch friendship and mutual values, he added.
“This will be a significant move for Jerusalem and the State of Israel, at the same time as it pays tribute to the close friendship and mutual appreciation we have for each other. Having him attend the unveiling of the street name would have strong diplomatic repercussions and would be a powerful message to the world.”
Illouz’s nomination of Harper is not the first time he has prioritized Israel’s international status in the municipality. Indeed, Illouz has served as an “informal and unofficial ambassador for Jerusalem by raising issues that affect Jerusalem diplomatically, in meetings with international diplomats and in diplomatic initiatives to strengthen the city.”
A Canadian immigrant to Israel himself, he is also known for his advocacy in the city council on behalf of new immigrants.