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Toronto lawyer Vivian Bercovici is Canada’s next ambassador to Israel as Harper government ‘affirms unfailing support’ for Jewish state

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Toronto lawyer Vivian Bercovici is Canada’s next ambassador to Israel as Harper government ‘affirms unfailing support’ for Jewish state

by Stewart Bell, National Post, Jan. 8, 2014

TORONTO — Canada’s newly appointed ambassador to Israel has been an outspoken commentator on Middle East issues, writing in her newspaper columns that Palestinian leaders were the main obstacles to peace.

Vivian Bercovici, a Toronto lawyer who studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the London School of Economics, was appointed to the sensitive diplomatic post on Wednesday by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

“Having lived in Israel and written extensively on the region, Ms. Bercovici has an excellent understanding of the challenges facing the country and deep insight into the opportunities provided by the strong links between our two countries,” the minister said.

The announcement comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper is preparing his first visit to Israel and signals the Conservative government’s commitment to strengthening relations with the only true democracy in one of the world’s most troublesome regions.

In her Toronto Star columns, Ms. Bercovici has taken the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to task for “their collective ideological commitment to the total destruction of the state of Israel, which they regard as a blasphemous blight on the Arab and Muslim worlds.”

She has also referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “respected” leader who “has enhanced national security, immeasurably,” while decrying the UN for allowing gross human rights violators like Iran and Egypt to repeatedly condemn Israel.

In September, she wrote about visiting Jerusalem and “the constant awareness of the fact that the status quo is unsustainable. Perhaps, in that, lies a second point of consensus in the Middle East: that there must be change in the Israeli-Palestinian imbalance.”

Under Mr. Harper, Canada has strengthened relations with Israel, defying pro-Palestinian campaigns that include the push for a boycott of the Jewish state. The diplomatic appointment is a firm signal that Mr. Harper will not stray from his current policy.

“The Harper government will continue to affirm our government’s unfailing support for Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, as well as the close and long-standing relationship that exists between both countries,” a Conservative source said.

“Under the leadership of the PM, this government will take principled positions in the international fight against anti-Semitism, raising awareness of the heinous crimes of the Holocaust, and for being a steadfast supporter of Israel and the Jewish people.”

A mother of two, Ms. Bercovici has been a lawyer for 24 years, most recently at Heenan Blaikie LLP in Toronto. A former journalist, she has also served on the board of CBC/Radio-Canada and the Canadian Journalism Foundation.

“I have had the opportunity to spend substantial time with Ambassador Bercovici and am most impressed with her knowledge and understanding of the region as well as the challenges confronting the Jewish state,” said Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

National Post

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