JERUSALEM -- One reporter on a local TV station called it a "rock-star welcome" for Canada's prime minister but whatever it was, Stephen Harper was clearly enjoying himself as he kicked off a four-day tour of the only democracy in the Middle East.
As his host, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and "my good friend Stephen" worked their way down a long-receiving line of dignitaries and VIPs at a welcoming ceremony here Sunday night. The two men laughed often, patted each other on the back frequently and always wore smiles.
"We're delighted to see you both here," Netanyahu said to Harper and his wife Laureen. "Stephen, you are a great friend to Israel and the Jewish people. This world is often cynical and hypocritical and you have shown great moral leadership. When it comes to anti-Semitism, you've stood up unabashedly at the side of the Israel."