When I was in Palestine and Israel four years ago as a human rights observer, I quickly determined the best way to introduce myself to most others was to say, “Hi, my name is Steve Berube. I am a Canadian and I would like to apologize about my government.”
Many Israelis, Palestinians and internationals asked me what had happened to the Canadian government. They asked, why was our government so pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian in comparison to our traditional role as honest broker? Why had Canada fallen out of step with European nations and turned a blind eye on Israeli violations of human rights and the rule of international law with respect to Palestine? I was ashamed of how the previous government had abandoned our traditional diplomatic position rooted in John Peters Humphrey and Lester Pearson. This led me to apologize for Canada when I introduced myself.
Sir, I need to apologize to you and through you to foreign affairs officials. An erroneous report in the Jerusalem Post led me to believe that you met with an Israeli cabinet minister in occupied East Jerusalem. I was pleased and relieved to learn that the meeting occurred inside of the internationally recognized borders of Israel.
I reacted harshly and should not have relied on a single media report. I apologize for my criticism.
My initial reaction was rooted in the reality that many Canadians and I hoped your government would revert to a more balanced position vis-a-vis Palestine and Israel.