Vivian Bercovici, Canada’s former ambassador to Israel, labored for the Israeli intelligence agency Black Dice after her diplomatic tenure ended, Radio-Canada has discovered.
Black Dice is a controversial non-public sector firm composed of ex-members of the Mossad and different Israeli intelligence companies.
Messages addressed to a possible Black Dice shopper from Bercovici in 2019, obtained by Radio-Canada/CBC, comprise references to her former occupation as an envoy.
Black Dice made headlines in 2017 when it was found that Hollywood movie govt Harvey Weinstein had employed it to dig up info on the ladies accusing him of sexual assault, and on the journalists pursuing the story.
In Canada, Black Dice has been criticized by an Ontario court docket for making an attempt to discredit a choose by making an attempt to get him to make antisemitic feedback in secretly recorded conferences.
Bercovici was appointed ambassador by then-prime minister Stephen Harper in January 2014. She was faraway from her publish by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in June, 2016.
In one of many messages Bercovici despatched a possible Black Dice shopper in 2019, she says she will present a variety of companies, corresponding to undercover surveillance, discovering hidden details about third events’ private lives and tracing financial institution accounts and property.
In different messages, she writes that she works for Black Dice, that she could be one of many individuals personally supervising all operational issues and that Black Dice believes it could actually assist the shopper obtain their goal. Though she was not ambassador on the time, the messages make it clear she had held that place.
Radio-Canada/CBC has chosen to not reveal the contents of all of the messages to guard the identification of the one that shared them.
These messages had been offered to Radio-Canada/CBC as Bercovici and a few of her supporters — together with Sen. Linda Frum, a private good friend — had been accusing Radio-Canada/CBC of antisemitism in earlier reporting on the previous ambassador.
Bercovici, who lives in Israel, didn’t present solutions to our questions — even on the finish of a deadline prolonged on the request of her lawyer William McDowell of the Toronto legislation agency Lenczner Slaght.
Radio-Canada/CBC has requested Bercovici, amongst different issues, when she began working for Black Dice and if she’s nonetheless working for the corporate.
By its lawyer, Black Dice denies that Bercovici has ever labored for them.
“Black Dice has by no means employed Ms. Vivian Bercovici, whether or not immediately, as an worker, contractor or guide, or not directly, by means of any subsidiary or third occasion,” wrote their lawyer, Jonathan Abrams, of the U.Okay. legislation agency Gregory Abrams Davidson Solicitors.
“We might stress that Black Dice’s operations and methodologies are backed by extremely revered knowledgeable authorized opinions in each jurisdiction wherein it operates, guaranteeing that Black Dice’s actions are in full compliance with relevant legal guidelines in these jurisdictions,” Abrams added.
Black Dice has workplaces in Tel Aviv, London and Madrid.
Black Dice additionally threatened to sue Radio-Canada/CBC if it revealed this story.
Focusing on a choose
Black Dice has carried out controversial operations in Canada up to now.
One was an undercover sting operation to discredit a Toronto choose who had dominated in opposition to its shopper, Catalyst Capital Group, a non-public funding firm. Radio-Canada/CBC has no indication that Bercovici participated on this operation.
In 2017, Catalyst employed Tamara World Holdings, an Israeli investigation and safety agency, which in flip retained the companies of Black Dice and Psy Group, an Israeli intelligence agency that not exists.
These corporations had been employed to help Catalyst in its authorized dispute with a rival firm.
One of many targets of the huge undercover operation they organized was to assault the repute of Choose Frank Newbould, who had rendered a choice in opposition to Catalyst in a industrial authorized dispute.
Utilizing a false identification, a Black Dice agent met with Choose Newbould and tried to get him to make anti-Jewish feedback throughout secretly recorded conferences.
“Mainly we’re making an attempt to show that he is a racist, a wicked anti-Semite, and looking for info that might paint him in as adverse a light-weight as doable,” wrote a Psy Group agent to a Black Dice agent, in accordance with an Ontario Superior Court docket of Justice ruling that was made public in March 2021.
The current court docket determination revealed new particulars in regards to the actions of those intelligence corporations in Canada. However the truth that Tamara World Holdings acted as an middleman between Catalyst, Black Dice and Psy Group has been public information since no less than 2018.
Black Dice’s moral requirements
Tamara World’s principal is Yossi Tanuri, a former commander of an elite unit of the Israeli Protection Forces, in accordance with his biographical notes.
Tanuri was additionally director common of the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA from 2004 to 2019.
Requested if it was conscious of Tanuri’s involvement with these intelligence corporations whereas he was its director common, the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA didn’t reply. Tanuri additionally didn’t reply to Radio-Canada’s emails.
Radio-Canada additionally reached out to Sen. Frum, who has been a member of the board of administrators of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA since 2017. When Tanuri left the group in 2019, his going-away occasion was held at Frum’s home.
Frum mentioned she was not conscious of Tanuri’s involvement with Black Dice whereas he was director common of the group. She mentioned she had no response to his involvement with Black Dice and Psy Group, as described within the current court docket ruling.
Requested if she knew that Bercovici has labored for Black Dice, Frum replied, “I’ve completely no concept what you’re speaking about.”
“Black Dice is harmful as a result of it doesn’t abide by moral guidelines,” mentioned Avner Barnea, an educational and knowledgeable in private-sector intelligence.
Reached in Israel, Barnea mentioned Black Dice “doesn’t even come shut” to the moral requirements established by the worldwide affiliation Strategic and Aggressive Intelligence Professionals, which he serves as an advisory board member.
On its web site, Black Dice presents itself as “a choose group of veterans from the Israeli elite intelligence items that makes a speciality of tailor-made options to advanced enterprise and litigation challenges.”
Barnea mentioned that a few of Black Dice’s actions may be permissible for a authorities intelligence company — however are unacceptable for a non-public enterprise.
The mysterious letter
Radio-Canada/CBC’s inquiry into Bercovici and Black Dice began with a mysterious letter.
In January 2021, Radio-Canada/CBC reported on a letter signed by Bercovici and addressed to a Toronto businessman and Liberal supporter named Alan Bender.
In that November 2019 letter, Bercovici provides to drop her lawsuit in opposition to the Authorities of Canada as a means of thanking Bender for saving her life.
The letter was despatched by an nameless supply, however Radio-Canada was in a position to affirm it was written by Bercovici.
In 2018, Bercovici launched a lawsuit in opposition to the federal authorities alleging, amongst different issues, that the Trudeau authorities acted in dangerous religion when it terminated her diplomatic appointment and that she had not been correctly compensated for her pension advantages.
The lawsuit has now been settled and is roofed by a non-disclosure settlement.
In a cellphone interview with Radio-Canada in January, Bender, a world mediator, mentioned he was requested by vital political figures — together with one from Israel — to intervene to assist Bercovici.
Bender mentioned he did save Bercovici’s life — alongside together with her skilled and private repute — however did not wish to give any particulars. Bercovici declined to remark on the time.
Radio-Canada reached out to Bender once more to ask if the alleged menace on Bercovici’s life had something to do together with her Black Dice actions. Bender wouldn’t remark.
A few of Bercovici’s selections and bills throughout her tenure as an envoy raised eyebrows within the Division of Overseas Affairs — one thing she herself acknowledged in her lawsuit.
Bercovici had insisted on renting non-public workplace house exterior of the embassy, a transfer deemed extremely uncommon by excessive rating officers. Radio-Canada/CBC is just not naming these sources as a result of they weren’t licensed to talk publicly in regards to the subject.
The rental of workplace house at 22 Rothschild boulevard in Tel Aviv was authorised by Overseas Affairs, as Bercovici’s lawyer has beforehand famous.
Bercovici, Sen. Frum and others, together with some Jewish organizations, have criticized Radio-Canada/CBC for quoting unnamed sources in its reporting, saying the sources had been smearing Bercovici with the antisemitic canard of dual-loyalty.
Accusing Jewish residents of being extra loyal to Israel than to the pursuits of their very own nations is one side of antisemitism cited within the Worldwide Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which was adopted by the Authorities of Canada in 2019.
Nevertheless, the issues raised by the officers Radio-Canada spoke to had been associated to the character of among the former ambassador’s behaviour and selections, which they mentioned had been extremely uncommon for a senior diplomat. Throughout these interviews, not one of the officers demonstrated any antisemitic sentiment.