Canada’s Ambassador-Designate to Israel Reaches out to JSpaceCanada
Ambassador-Designate Deborah Lyons addresses members and supporters of JSpaceCanada at the home of Program Chair Karen Mock. Michael Levitt, left, MP for York Centre, also attended.
Toronto, September 15, 2016 — JSpaceCanada was very pleased that at the end of a long day of meetings in Toronto with various Jewish community groups, Deborah Lyons, Canada’s ambassador-designate to Israel, took time to meet with several members of JSpaceCanada’s leadership team. Michael Levitt, Member of Parliament for York Centre and Chair of the Canada-Israel Inter-Parliamentary Group, accompanied Ms. Lyons to the meeting, which was held at the home of Karen Mock, Program Chair of JSpaceCanada.
JSpaceCanada leaders, including several who are also in leadership positions of other progressive Zionist organizations, shared their views in a frank discussion with the ambassador-designate. They expressed their wishes that as the new ambassador she would continue to canvass and represent a broad spectrum of opinions about Israel and Israeli-Palestinian relations. Ms. Lyons, a career diplomat and former Ambassador to Afghanistan, is replacing Vivian Bercovici, a Harper government political appointee.
It was mentioned at the meeting that more than fifty percent of Canadian Jews are unaffiliated with mainstream Jewish organizations. They are increasingly turning to JSpaceCanada and other progressive Zionist associations to represent their vision and hopes for Israel. At the same time, JSpaceCanada reaches out to disaffected youth who crave a safe space to discuss Israel and Canadian foreign policy in the context of human and civil rights. At the meeting, several of JSpaceCanada’s successful public programs and behind-the-scenes interventions were discussed, in which the left of centre group was able to counter BDS initiatives and enhance constructive dialogue to undermine those who try to vilify and demonize Israel. JSpaceCanada also strives to reduce the intra-community vitriol in the Jewish community, between people characterized as on the extremes of the political spectrum.
Ambassador-designate Lyons welcomed many of the comments she had not previously heard from other groups, and asked for ongoing two-way communication with JSpaceCanada, to provide her with inclusive and broader Canadian Jewish community perspectives to share in Israel, and also so that she can share her initiatives in Israel with a wider Canadian audience.
“We are delighted to have had the opportunity to meet with Ambassador-Designate Lyons,” said Karen Mock, JSpaceCanada spokesperson, “and we are looking forward to working with her to enhance knowledge of and support for Israel across a broad spectrum of the Canadian population, at the same time as communicating Canada’s commitment to inclusion, human and civil rights, shared society and peace -- both here and in the Middle East.”