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.