Baird usually announces senior diplomats through news releases. Insiders say that he chose the very partisan lawyer over two other candidates from the Foreign Affairs department.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's flamboyant announcement of an aggressive pro-Israel lawyer as our new ambassador to Israel offered Opposition parties a terrific opportunity to challenge the Harper government’s unfair and lop-sided pro-Israel bias.
Mr. Baird has repeatedly claimed that Canada wants to be “helpful” to the peace process, but he has now appointed someone who is aggressively aligned with one of the parties in negotiations. Its hard to see how this could be helpful.
This is very unlikely to be the approach taken by Ms. Bercovici.
She had a monthly column in the Toronto Star where she regularly attacked Israel’s adversaries and critics, be they in the Middle East or the West. In a Jan. 28, 2013 column, for example, Bercovici called Netanyahu a "respected leader" who has "enhanced national security, immeasurably." At the same time, she attacked Palestinian Authority leadership, alleging that it calls for "the destruction of Israel — disseminated openly in political forums, the tightly controlled media and taught freely in schools and universities."
Not surprisingly, her appointment has been praised effusively by Israel lobby groups in Canada, including the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
The appointment offered opposition critics a golden opportunity to point out the flagrant contradiction between Baird’s claim that he wants to “help” negotiations and promote human rights, while actively supporting Israel against all criticisms.
But Opposition Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar carefully avoided any substantial criticism of either Baird or his extraordinary appointment. According to the National Post, Dewar’s main complaint was that she was not a career diplomat.
What could explain Dewar’s avoidance of the main issue? Why wouldn't he point out how this is another manifestation of Canada's unfair, unbalanced AND UNHELPFUL position on the Israel/Palestine conflict?
Mr. Dewar is assumed to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. He regularly attends official events organized by the Palestinian representative in Ottawa. Those who have met him say he always expresses support for the Palestinian people and even criticizes both Baird and the Netanyahu government.
But when an opportunity arose to make some of those criticisms public, the Foreign Affairs critic of the official opposition appears to have taken a pass.
NDP members who support human rights for Palestinians must be disappointed. But perhaps this should not surprise them. On Dewar’s website, six important Foreign Affairs issues are listed.
Unfortunately, the Israel/Palestine issue is not one of them.
National Education Committee on Israel/Palestine
National Council on Canada Arab Relations