Arab members of the Israeli legislature, the Knesset, heckled Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper several times during his address on Monday, the Jerusalem Post reports. Harper, whose conservative government is widely acknowledged as the most pro-Israel in the western world, received several standing ovations, but was interrupted, for instance, when he said: “Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.” An Arab member, without a hint of irony, shouted: “It is.” (Blacks could not vote in apartheid South Africa.)
Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the interim nuclear agreement with Iran, which took effect Monday, would still enable Iran, to develop nuclear weapons. Likening Iran’s nuclear program to a train, he said: “The agreement in Geneva did away with the 20% stop, but left the train on its track and enables Iran to upgrade the locomotive by developing new centrifuges, so that when the day comes it can leap in a very short time to the final stop on an express track without stopping at an intermediary stop.”
Harper received a very warm welcome in Israel, despite the heckling. Heckling is, in fact, a tradition in the Knesset, but is rare in the presence of visiting dignitaries. Speaker Yuli Edelstein remarked: “You’re not a guest, you’re family, because there were interruptions, which is unusual for foreign guests,” the Post reported.
During his own visit in 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama chose not to address the Knesset, and addressed a group of Israeli students instead, telling them that it was not “fair” that Palestinians did not yet have a state of their own.