Dear Ambassador Bercovici,
I understand that you have been part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s official delegation or small circle of 29 people (all travel expenses paid) in his recent trip to Israel and Palestine (click here). As I look at the list of five groups of people in the larger delegation of 208 people, a recent book, The Armaggedon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada by Marci McDonald, comes to mind. Have you read it? Some of the people on your trip are the type that McDonald discusses in her book. From this Globe & Mail article, the authors note: “Several of the delegates are representatives from evangelical Christian organizations, including the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada, of which Mr. Harper has said he is a member.” The authors also note: “Rev. Bruce Gregersen, a senior adviser on theology for the United Church of Canada who did not participate in the delegation, said it makes sense for the Prime Minister to include a large number of faith-based organizations because faith and politics are closely linked in the region. / But Mr. Gregersen, who has worked on Middle East issues for the United Church, said he was surprised that a broader range of Christian faiths were not included, given that a number of Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic churches have stronger historical connections with Palestinian Christians.”
What ties this delegation together? John Bell notes (here) that Canadian media have noticed the delegation’s size and “questioned the wisdom and motivation of this ample devotion to Israel. Is it calculated interest or a moral drive? Some point out that Harper has much to lose by this stance. The parliamentary electoral gains among the Jewish community, although key to three seats in Toronto, are small in comparison to losses among the Muslim community. Certainly, in Europe, where I live, people are baffled by Canada’s zealous support for Israel” (here).
I am curious, too, about the shift in recent years of Canadian foreign policy to support the Israeli government . How would you respond to these questions (here) prepared by the United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI)?
How was your travel? Did you move freely? Did you travel to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank with the Prime Minister? Did you travel by road and go through Qalandiya check point (here)? Or, did you fly? Here is a video (here) created by Neta Efrony, a filmmaker and a member of Machsom Watch (Hebrew for Checkpoints Watch; here). She is an Israeli citizen who objects to the Israeli government’s denial of the freedom of movement of Palestinians (for example, at Qalandiya or Kalandia check point). She asks: Where has compassion gone?