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Vivian Bercovici

Columnist, The Jerusalem Post; Former Canadian Ambassador to Israel

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With a very strong background in legal affairs, business and the media advisory role with top corporate clients, Ambassador Bercovici has also worked in government as a key advisor to elected officials. As a result, she understands the complexity of political and business decision making and the importance of deep relationships in the international foreign policy community.

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Vivian Bercovici served as Canada’s Ambassador to Israel from 2014-16 and in a short time established herself as a strong, articulate and forceful commentator and leader on Israeli politics, foreign policy relationships and the business environment. Israel is surging globally as a technology and cyber power and global business communities and governments are under pressure to understand how to access Israeli talent and markets.

Appointed by staunchly pro-Israel Canadian PM Stephen Harper, she challenged the institutional biases of the Canadian foreign policy establishment, and developed exceptional ties with global foreign policy experts, politicians and business leaders in Israel, the U.S. and Israel. Her views on complex geopolitical, business and communications issues are valued highly by many corporate and political opinion makers. With her varied experience, including 25 years of legal practice in Toronto, Canada, advising major media outlets and major financial services companies, and, on the margins, as a journalist, newspaper columnist, political operative and adjunct professor, Vivian electrifies a room with passion, hard analysis and entertaining vignettes.

A dual Canadian-Israeli national, Vivian resides in Tel Aviv and is engaged in consulting to North American businesses regarding technology and cyber solutions in Israel, public speaking and writing for various magazines and newspapers. She is writing a hard-hitting book examining the political treatment of Israel by western democracies and multilateral forums, with an expected release date in 2018.

Vivian is the mother of two young adult women, one living in Toronto and the other in Israel.

Speech Topics

The singular (purported) goal of this movement is to isolate Israel economically, through trade sanctions, boycotts and divestment tactics, in order to force withdrawal from the West Bank and Golan Heights. Conceived in the 80s, its adherents equate Israeli policies towards Arabs to apartheid in South Africa. BDS is the new anti-semitism. It is vicious hatred disguised as righteousness. Its ideologues twist historical and present fact to further a hard-core anti-semitic agenda. At its core, it is about delegitimizing the state of Israel. BDS adherents have moved from the political fringe to the heads of significant corporate, government and NGO enterprises, constituting a serious threat not just to Israel, but to those who support freedom and democracy.

Moving overnight from private legal practice in downtown Toronto to become the Canadian Ambassador to Israel was eye opening, surreal and life changing. Appointed by former PM Stephen Harper, recognized globally and in international forums as the staunchest supporter of Israel, my tenure was controversial from the outset. A peek behind the blackout curtain shielding the diplomatic world from public scrutiny. A day in the life and some observations on how out of touch the diplomatic world is with the real one.

Almost overnight, Israel transformed from a third world, agricultural based economy with triple digit hyper-inflation year over year into the “start-up nation”; tech innovation hub of the world. This besieged country of 8-million is challenging Silicon Valley and China for global leadership of innovation and concentration of successful commercialization of tech products. This is not only one of the biggest economic stories of the last 30 years, but it has significant impact on geopolitical alignment in the Middle East and beyond.

Vilification of Israel in the UNGA and related bodies used to be dismissed as the past-time of the NAM and the Arab world. In the last 20 years or so, the obsessive focus on Israel has not only intensified but is led by some of the most notorious abusers of human rights and democratic norms. What motivates this abuse of ideals and power and why does it continue? Why does the United Nations Human Rights Council so brazenly target Israel, led in this crusade by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and other brutal tyrannies, and why does the west allow this farce to continue?

It is curious that, no matter who is PM, no matter the policies, Canada’s immutable brand is that of the moral nation. Do we punch above our weight in international forums because we occupy a moral high ground? Is that perception based in reality? We are more European in temperament than Americans, given to politesse and public deference. But, behind the scenes, Canada is able to aggressively pursue.

North America is attached to a romantic notion of Israel and Israelis, rooted in the hardscrabble charm of the underdog nation that came to be from nothing. It is very different from what most Americans think: a majority of the Jewish population is from Arab countries; there are horrible tensions cleaving the Muslim and Christian Arab communities; and all of this feeds into the chaotic political tumble. A backdoor and current primer on what is really going on on the ground, not what is reported.


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