When Prime Minister Stephen Harper put Canada's support behind Israel following a war with terrorist group Hezbollah in July that saw large areas of Lebanon targeted by air strikes and a limited ground offensive, some critics accused the Conservative leader of showing his inexperience by taking sides in the Middle East.

The comparison that inevitably arose was to another conservative government that made a similar mistake in 1979. Days after taking office as prime minister, Joe Clark made what he now describes as a "significant mistake" by promising to move Canada's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a...

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