Michael BELL
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BELL, Michael Dougall
1943 - 2017
Career foreign service officer, distinguished diplomat, columnist, teacher, honorary doctor of laws, loving husband, father and friend, Michael passed away peacefully at home with his family at his side on August 24. Best known as a specialist on the issues of the Middle East, Michael was posted three times to Israel (twice as ambassador), as ambassador to Egypt and ambassador to Jordan. In between these postings, he served as director of the Middle East Relations division and as director general for Central and Eastern Europe. Early in his career Michael was assigned to serve as special assistant to Robert Stanfield, former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, who had been sent on an extensive mission to the Middle East with instructions to report to then-prime minister Joe Clark on whether the government should carry out Mr. Clark's campaign promise to move Canada's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The report, penned by both men, concluded that in the interest of peace it would be best not to move the embassy at this time. Perhaps Michael's finest work came during his 12 years of retirement when he initiated and co-directed the Jerusalem Old City Initiative (JOCI) an attempt to resolve one of the thorniest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – the future status of the one square kilometer of territory that is home to some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the sovereignty of which is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians. The report's first volume, on security, was published earlier this year by the University of Windsor, Michael's alma mater, that also conferred on Michael an honorary doctorate of laws. Michael leaves Linda, his wife of 49 years whom he described as "the mainstay of my life," daughter Caroline "the pride of my life," and granddaughter Clara "the joy of my life." He is to be interred in Ottawa's historic Beechwood Cemetery following a private family service.

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Published in Ottawa Citizen on Aug. 26, 2017.
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Memories & Condolences
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34 entries
September 20, 2017
My sincerest condolences.
September 18, 2017
Deeply experienced, highly intelligent, fair-minded and unassuming, Michael Bell was a leader on constructive thinking about the problems of the Middle East. His death is a great loss not only to Canada, but also to the cause of justice, peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
JH Taylor Foreign service retired
James Taylor
September 16, 2017
As a former neighbour of the Bells in Manor Park, I am saddened to learn of Michael's passing and wish to express my condolences to both Linda and Caroline.
John S. Batts
September 9, 2017
My sincere sympathy goes to Linda and her family. It must be a great loss for you and also for all those who cared about events in the Middle east and valued his contribution there.
Ruth Brown
September 5, 2017
My sincere sympathies to Linda and Caroline. Michael thought me many important things and provided valuable advice during the years we worked together in Israel and Ottawa. My thoughts and prayers are with you during these difficult times. Louise
Louise Leger
September 5, 2017
A wonderful person, fine colleague and distinguished intellect. Requiescat in pace, Michael.
Peter McKellar
September 5, 2017
As a young officer in External Affairs, and as a neighbour of Michael in Manor Park, I came to look forward to my encounters with this gentle, thoughtful man. It was gratifying to find his name in print and at the heart of Canadian diplomacy in my later years. I am saddened to see that his thoughtful voice will no longer be heard. David Borrowman, Salt spring Island
David Borrowman
September 5, 2017
Dear Linda

I as so sorry to learn of Michael's passing. I have shared his passion for the Middle East since my first posting in Beirut when I was accredited to Jordan, Syria , Iraq and Saudi Arabia as well, and travelled widely, and absorbed the culture, history and admired the people of the region. Working in Middle East issues in Ottawa periodically and a later posting as Ambassador to the UAE only furthered my interest. Michael and I had many good conversations on issues in the region over the years. He was regarded by all his colleagues as so well versed in the issues and the region and thoughtful in his views. While Michael's professional abilities are beyond description I must emphasize his personal qualities and a wonderful sense of humour. My deepest condolences to you and the family.
Chris Thomson
September 5, 2017
Dear Linda,
We have lost one of our finest diplomats and an officer whose views I greatly respected. He was devoted to finding ways to promote peace in the Middle East and there can be no finer calling for anyone in our profession.
Jane and I send our deepest condolences for your loss. He was one of the best.
September 5, 2017
One of Canada's finest diplomats and the most balanced--ever--on the intractable and controversial Middle East situation. Condolences.
Michael Kergin
September 5, 2017
Dear Linda,
I was saddened to learn of Michael's death. Please accept my most sincere condolences. I was privileged to be one of Michael's foreign service colleagues; he was much respected within and well beyond the Pearson Building and truly served his country with distinction.
Paul Frazer, Washington, DC
September 4, 2017
So very sad for you both, Linda and Caroline. I hope you feel the support of family and friends at this time.
Diana Batts
September 1, 2017
Linda: our heartfelt condolences to you and Caroline.
Salwa and Tony
August 31, 2017
Dear Linda, Please accept our sincere condolences. Your fellow Manitobans, Ken & Peggy Gibson
August 30, 2017
Dear Linda,
Brian and I are so sorry for your loss. Please accept our deepest sympathy. We will keep you in our prayers.
Helene and Brian O'Connor
August 29, 2017
May you, Linda, Caroline and Clara, find peace at this time, knowing that Michael has loved you dearly, and he has made significant contributions in his career.
Allan & Lindy
August 29, 2017
Dear Linda and Christine,
Linda and I were saddened to learn of Michael's death. You have our most sincere condolences. Michael was a friend and colleague over many years and he served his country with great devotion and distinction. He deserved every word in Patrick Martin's xtensive obituary in the Globe. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.
John and Linda Noble
August 29, 2017
Ii had the privilege to come across Michael in recent years when our paths crossed each other at the CIC-NCB. He took interest at what I was doing as the Chair of the Africa Study Group (I left that volunteer position in June 2016). Last February, we exchanged very short emails and he asked me to pray for him. I was so sad to hear that he had serious health difficulties. Nobody would have wished the for such a fine man. I send my deepest condolences to his family.
Louise Ouimet
August 29, 2017
I am so sad to hear of Michael's death. I remember him well and fondly. Condolences to his family and friends.
Linda Fanning
August 29, 2017
My wife and I first got to know Michael and Linda, and Caroline (when she came home for school holidays), during a posting to Cairo in the mid 1990s. As we were the only embassy staff at the time living in Zamalek, we sometimes hung out together after work or on weekends when official duties permitted some down time. These were always informal occasions, exploring old shops, trying out various restaurants, or just taking a normal meal together, nothing fancy. All done with the simple pleasure of small talk. We got to appreciate Linda's amazing sense of humour and Michael's friendly, inquisitive regard for people and places. We enjoyed relaxing in their company. Michael had a profound historical sense and deep understanding of political and social contexts in the Middle East. But the man we knew most was the guy with the warm, playful disposition and we miss him a lot.
-Bob and Wilma Fraser
Bob Fraser
August 29, 2017
Linda and Caroline,
So sorry for the loss of Michael. I knew him when he served as the ambassador in Israel - a fine gentleman and a charming person. A passionate collector of ancient art. I will miss him.
Gideon Sasson, Jerusalem.
Gideon Sasson
August 27, 2017
Marie-Jeanne and I send our deepest condolences to LInda and Caroline. We knew each other for a long time. Will never forget Michael's ( and Linda's) help back in 1995 helping me extricate Marie-Jeanne from a hospital in Jerusalem after she was injured in an airplane accident. Our meals together in Amman and Cairo. Our discussions over the years in the cafeteria in the Pearson Building. He was a dear friend and I will miss him. Jim and Marie-Jeanne
August 27, 2017
Linda and Caroline,
I was sadden to hear of Michael's passing. I came to know Michael through my friendship with Linda. I found him to be a kind and gentle man. Thinking of you and especially Clara in time of sorrow.
Jean Hennessey
August 27, 2017
So sorry for your loss Linda - Norma Bird
August 27, 2017
Michael and I worked together many times over the years. I admired his passion for the Middle East, and its peoples, and his commitment, against all odds, to secure peace in the region. I also really enjoyed the private Michael, especially his love and his wonderful eye for antiquities. Watching him and Father Godfrey go through a new batch of archeological finds from the great digs in Jerusalem was an education all in itself. No wonder the future of Jerusalem was his last, great project. Tom and I also recall his and Linda's support for our courtship, which amounted to "why don't you get married, already! Try it, you'll like it!" He was right. We had a great example to follow in Michael's love for Linda and daughter Caroline. Linda and Caroline, thinking of you at this difficult time. Michael, next year in Jerusalem...
August 27, 2017
My heartfelt sympathies to Linda and family. It was an honour getting to know Michael during my time with JOCI. Such a deep loss not only for Canada, but the global community seeking peace. I am very saddened by the news.
Crystal Ennis
August 26, 2017
I had the privilege of knowing Michael in recent years, through our mutual concern for the Middle East and belief in the importance of Canadian support for UNRWA's work with the Palestine refugees. I greatly respected his principled commitment and intellectual rigour, always expressed with respect and courtesy. To Linda and the family, my sincere condolences.
Angela Williams
August 26, 2017
Three Windsor boys: Michael Bell, Herb Gray, Pat Dennis - Tel Aviv, 2002
Linda and Caroline, please accept our most sincere condolences on Michael's passing. No Canadian knew more about the Middle East than Michael, and none strived harder to bring some peace to that troubled part of the world. Wendy and I are very sorry for your loss.

Pat Dennis, Colonel (Ret'd)
Canadian Defence Attaché Israel 2001-2004
Pat & Wendy Dennis
August 26, 2017
Linda and Caroline,

I was deeply saddened to learn this morning of Michael's passing. Matthew, Josh, Barbara and I were very appreciative of the comfort, support and undestanding you both generously gave us during Barbara's last days. One of our most treasured memories was the dinner at the Israeli Embassy which, to our immense surprise, turned into a celebration of your lifelong friendship with Barbara.

I regret that time and distance will not allow us to attend the funeral service for Michael bur please know that both you and Caroline are in our thoughts and best wishes.

David, Matthew and Joshua Byer
David Byer
August 26, 2017
I actually had the opportunity to get to know Michael Bell, his wife Linda and daughter Caroline over the years (my mom, Barbara Byer, and Linda grew up together in Brandon, Manitoba). I remember fondly Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, the fascinating conversations and always feeling welcome in their home. My deepest condolences, thoughts, and prayers.
Matthew Byer
August 26, 2017
Canada is a better country because it was served long and well by Michael Bell. My life is better given his wisdom and friendship. For both, I am thankful.
Ruben (Butch) Nelson
August 26, 2017
Linda and Caroline, my heartfelt sympathy and deepest condolences. Michael's career in the foreign service and post-career contribution to Canadian public service were truly memorable and important to Canada. And I was impressed by his, that is to say your, enthusiasm for exploring Crusader castles in the Middle East. A life well lived.
Richard Belliveau
August 26, 2017
Don Served with Michael in the Embassy in Tel Aviv in 1975-76. He was a good friend and a valued colleague. Our heartfelt condolences to Linda and Caroline.
Don and Joan Pruner
August 26, 2017
I had met Michael only fairly recently, but I had known him long enough to stand in admiration before his profound intellectual capacity and his winning personality. His knowledge of world affairs was awesome, and he was impressively articulate when sharing his views with others. Like his many friends, I share the family's sense of loss.
A. Reiner Hollbach
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