For three years, Vivian Bercovici served Canada as the ambassador to Israel, and for all of us who saw her in action, she had a huge impact.
Unfortunately, in Israel, including in the Foreign Ministry, Canada has generally been relegated to a minor player inhabiting the same continent as the United States. But Ottawa has been a key ally, particularly during the Harper years, and during her tenure, Bercovici raised Canada’s profile significantly. She was often featured in the local media, and hosted events attended by Israelis – Jews and Arabs – from across the social and political spectrum. Invitations to these events, including the Canada Day receptions, were coveted during Bercovici’s tenure.
In the political realm, she doesn’t reduce Israel to the one-dimensional image based entirely on the Palestinian conflict, unlike the old-school Arabists that continue to push outdated slogans in Ottawa and at the Globe and Mail. She made life difficult for lazy journalists (including Canadians) who follow the pack, repeating the artificial narrative of Palestinian victimization and aggressive Israeli power.
For the past three years, Canada and Israel both benefited significantly from Bercovici’s contributions, and while she will no longer be ambassador, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion and the Liberal government would do well to listen to her. A return to the old slogans and diplomatic myths about Israel will not benefit anyone.