Have you heard that we have a new Canadian ambassador to Israel? Her name is Vivian Bercovici (more info here). Have you read about some of the concerns about her appointment (for example, click here)? That she is a “staunch supporter of Israel” (click here) and its security policies? Perhaps, Prime Minister Harper and our federal government have made a choice that will serve their interests in support of the government of Israel. I am concerned by this choice. And so, I write to Ms. Bercovici…
“Dear Ambassador Bercovici,
Thank you for your willingness to represent Canada in Israel. Your position has immense responsibility. In your representation of us all, as Canadians, please…please look past the rhetoric of state-oriented definitions of security. Please go to Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and touch that Wall. The Israeli government describes it as a Security Wall (more info). But, the only thing that wall does is separate people. It keeps people apart. It is an apartness wall – an apartheid wall.
Please listen to the conversations nearby, for example, those at the Qalandiya Checkpoint where Palestinians are stopped in their tracks. Listen to the questions: What is happening with Canadian foreign policy that it increasingly supports Israeli government interests? Please accept invitations to walk through Qalandiya Checkpoint, rather than be driven in a darkly tinted and ‘secure’ vehicle…
In such situations, I hope that you will perceive a choice…to support “human security which exists when people are safe from direct and structural forms of violence [click here] and are able to meet their basic needs and rights. Human security advocates seek to replace or broaden traditional state-based definitions of security that focus on protecting territory or national interests. Human security aims to reduce the threats of disease, poverty, crime, and other factors that lessen the quality of life” (Schirch, 2004, p. 17).
Last year, as you commented on the Israeli government elections, you wrote: “So in the end, it really doesn’t matter to them [the Palestinian Authority] who wins and leads in Israel. There is no willing negotiator on the Palestinian side” (click here). I disagree with your observation, because I know that many Palestinians do wish to co-create a just peace. Jean Zaru who is Palestinian and a Quaker has written: “Both Israelis and Palestinians live in fear. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians have peace. Both Israelis and Palestinians yearn for security. Others cannot give us freedom, peace, and security. No government, no army, no wall no matter how long or high will provide for us what can only be supplied by the cultivation of mutuality and trust” (Zaru, 2008, p. 129).
As a Canadian, I ask that you represent me in a way that seeks dialogue with not only Israelis but also Palestinians – both of whom include people who are working hard toward human security and ending the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestine. When next you board a plane for Palestine-Israel, please pack two slim volumes in your carry-on bag for reading on your journey:
Jean Zaru’s (2008) Occupied with Nonviolence: A Palestinian Woman Speaks, and
Lisa Schirch’s (2004) The Little Book of Strategic Peacebuilding: A vision and framework for peace with justice.