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Jake Tapper reflects on his role as a CNN anchor and his search in vain for a connection to any Winnipeg Tappers

Jake Tapper

By BERNIE BELLAN Jake Tapper is a very well-known CNN anchor (and chief Washington correspondent) whose manner is totally opposite from the firebrands who populate Fox News.

Whereas individuals such as Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson thrive on inflaming their audiences, Tapper’s soothing tone and low-key style serves to calm his audience. However, while Tapper may appeal to the type of liberal audience that attended the most recent Kanee lecture on June 2nd, according to a recent report in Forbes magazine, Fox is trouncing CNN in the ratings. After listening to Tapper deliver what was, in essence, a review of the way in which Donald Trump was responsible for the assault on the US Capitol for on January 6, 2021, which was undoubtedly totally familiar to members of the audience who might have expected him to offer a more illuminating or stimulating talk than he did – it’s not hard to understand why viewers have been tuning CNN out.
To be fair though, when it comes to delivering a lecture, an individual like Tapper, who no doubt is quite mindful of not straying too far afield from a moderate position, is not the kind of person who is likely going to offer great insight into the issues of the day.
Such was the case on Wednesday evening, June 2nd, when approximately 350 individuals attended this year’s Sol & Florence Kanee lecture at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue. (It was the first live in-person Kanee lecture in three years, with everyone in attendance required to produce proof of vaccination and remain fully masked for the entire evening.)
Prior to Tapper’s talk, Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada President Mark Kantor gave a brief rundown of the current state of the JHCWC. Kantor noted that the JHCWC has now achieved its goal of having raised $1 million for what is known as the Norman and Florence Vickar Archival Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.

Jake Tapper is first and foremost a reporter, and what he proceeded to do during his 45-minute talk was give a summary of the events that had led up to the current situation the very moment he was speaking – when, he said, the fact that the Congressional hearings into the January 6 insurrection were going to be televised live the next night meant that he was unable to be in Winnipeg in person.
Before moving on to a discussion of the events of January 6 and the fallout thereafter, Tapper amused the audience with stories of his ancestry, including having had a great-grandfather who, for a very short time (four days) served as mayor of Winnipeg. It was in his quest to find out more about his roots that, Tapper explained, he actually got in touch with the Jewish Heritage Centre. One thing led to another and JHCWC Executive Director Belle Jarniewski ended up inviting Tapper to deliver this year’s Kanee lecture.
Tapper noted that he became interested in exploring his ancestry during the first year of the Covid pandemic, when he had more time on his hands than usual, and he became involved in doing a story about ancestry.com. He went on to explain that he had been told that he might be related to some Tappers in Winnipeg, but after researching the subject – partly with the assistance of the JHCWC, he realized that what he had been told was wrong.
Thus, he declared to the audience: “I’m talking to you tonight entirely because of a mistake.”
Further, Tapper explained that while his father is Jewish, his mother had converted to Judaism. It turns out that members of his mother’s family had actually fought in the American Revolution, Tapper discovered in doing research on his ancestry.
“They did fight in the Revolutionary War – but on the ‘wrong’ side,” he disclosed. As a result, “they fled to Canada,” hence his Winnipeg connection through his mother’s grandfather (whose name, by the way, was David Dyson).

An anchor with CNN since 2013, Tapper also serves as CNN’s Chief Washington Correspondent. In that capacity he’s been deeply involved in reporting on the incredible story of an incumbent president trying to overturn the results of a democratic election – which we’re now witnessing unraveling in prime time.
Yet, unlike a historian such as Margaret MacMillan, who offered profound insights into the chaos ensuing in the aftermath of World War I four years ago during her own Kanee lecture, someone like Tapper is perhaps too closely enmeshed in the day to day events as they unfurl to offer the kind of perspective on events that perhaps a historian might have been able to deliver.
What he gave to the audience on June 2nd instead was a fairly long overview of how we got to where we are, but without offering any analysis of what the longterm consequences will be of having had a scoundrel of such epic proportions as Donald J. Trump in the White House for four years.

Tapper noted that early on in his presidency Trump declared that “journalists are the enemy of the people,” but in saying that, Tapper suggested, Trump “put people’s lives at risk.”
“I’m amazed that no journalists were killed during Trump’s presidency,” he admitted, with the exception of Ahmad Khashoggi, who was likely killed by the Saudis because Mohammed Bin Salman knew that Trump could care less about the murder of a Saudi journalist.
“Something else was lost” during the Trump presidency, Tapper observed: “facts and the truth.”
Tapper noted that Trump had a specific purpose in attacking journalists, which Trump revealed when he said to a group of journalists, “I do it to discredit you all, so that when you write critically about me, you’ll be discredited.”
During an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” correspondent Leslie Stahl, Trump delved deeper into his methods (but after the cameras were turned off), Tapper said. Trump told Stahl that he was going to treat “any negative polls as ‘fake news’,” adding that “if it’s bad I say it’s fake, but if it’s good I say that it’s the most accurate poll ever.”
For Tapper, the ongoing war between Democrats and Republicans in the United States is “not about Republicans versus Democrats, it’s about truth versus lies.”

Yet, Trump did accomplish some good things during his presidency, Tapper acknowledged, including helping to bring about the “Abraham Accords” and pushing for the rapid development of vaccines to combat Covid-19 with a plan that was labeled “Operation Warp Speed.”
“It’s ironic that Operation Warp Speed saved millions of lives,” Tapper noted, so “Why didn’t he (Trump) fully embrace the vaccination program then?”
“He was vaccinated in secret before he left office,” Tapper added. “It was his handling of Covid that cost him the election.”

At that point in his talk Tapper delved into a very detailed review of events immediately preceding the January 6 insurrection. I continued to take copious notes but, in reviewing them I’ve said to myself: “Who doesn’t know the details of what happened immediately following the US election on November 3, 2020?” I suppose someone totally indifferent to world events might not know that Trump tried to claim that the election was “stolen”, but, in any event, there’s no need to regurgitate Tapper’s detailed chronology of those events here. (I do have them in my notes, though. If you want to hear what Tapper had to say give me a call and I’ll read you my notes about that part of his talk.)
Tapper did offer some suggestions as to why it’s important to continue to examine those fateful days between November 2, 2020 and January 6, 2021, saying: “It’s important to have clarity, it’s important to say lying is not good.”
Tapper quoted the very brave Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who said that the lie Trump told – and has continued to tell “is a lie that’s going to be deployed in the future.”
“We must stand up for the facts,” Tapper declared. “Facts are messy and inconvenient…but in order to push a narrative you have to have facts….News media should be committed to facts and ignore the narratives.”
As an illustration of how people commit to a certain narrative – such as that Joe Biden has to be supported no matter what, Tapper said that he’s been told that “if you ask tough questions about Biden’s handling of the economy, you must be for Trump.”
There was one point in Tapper’s lecture when he actually mentioned a term which I, along with most others in the audience, had probably never heard before, when he referred to something known as the “Overton Window.”
That term, he explained, refers to “the range of policies that are acceptable to discuss” at a certain point in time. It was inconceivable to discuss the emancipation of the slaves until a certain period in American history, Tapper noted.
Now, it is possible to discuss “reparations for slaves”, “defunding the police” and, perhaps most alarmingly, “disenfranchising the voters of Pennsalvania and Wisconsin” by disallowing huge numbers of perfectly legal ballots, which is something “two-thirds of House Republicans voted to do,” Tapper observed.
“Trump’s plan is to overturn the results of the 2024 election if he or his chosen successor fails,” Tapper predicted. Consequently, “democracy in the US is at risk when so many voters have proven to be susceptible to lies.”

Tapper ended his lecture by quoting Thomas Jefferson, who had this to say about the importance of newspapers to democracy: “If I had to choose between government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I would choose the latter.”

Following Tapper’s remarks, he fielded questions from audience members. (I took notes until both the pens I had brought with me ran out of ink. At that point I left. I apologize if I’m omitting some good questions which I may have missed as a result. Honestly, the question and answer session was more illuminating than hearing Tapper’s remarks to that point, especially when he found himself squirming talking about his disgraced colleague, Chris Cuomo.)
By the way, that was the first question asked of Tapper: “What have you learned about integrity and honesty with what’s gone on at CNN?”
Tapper: “You have to learn to recuse yourself or be fully transparent. Nobody in journalism wants to be the story. You don’t want to have to answer questions like that” (the one just posed to him).
Question: “As bad as Trump is are we going to see worse?”
Tapper: “I am more afraid that there are Republicans who have been going on with the ‘big lie’.”
Question: “How can you remain objective?”
Tapper: “The question is: ‘Are you aware of your biases?’ Do you try to understand points of view other than your own?”
Question: “How does a reporter handle what you’ve seen in Ukraine?” (Tapper spent two weeks in May reporting from Ukraine.)
Answer: “A lot of news organizations remind us that if we need to talk to people (about what we’ve seen), we have people there for you – but let’s remember first responders face the same problem.”

Tapper was then asked a question about a possible connection to some Jewish Tappers from Winnipeg.
He responded that “I looked for months to try to find a connection with the Jewish Tappers of Winnipeg. We even went so far as to try to get someone (from Winnipeg) to take a DNA test.” (Apparently that endeavour was aborted when it became clear that it was fruitless.)
Question: “What do you think is going to happen in the mid-term elections?” (Afterwards, someone suggested to me that it would likely be impossible to find an American audience anywhere that would want to hear from a Canadian journalist about Canadian politics.)
Tapper: “We haven’t lost our democracy yet. The guardrails buckled, but they’ve held. We have to remain vigilant…but I’m not applying for Canadian citizenship. I don’t know that things are going to get worse.”
Question: “Have you felt any anti-Semitism at CNN?”
Tapper answered that he’s experienced anti-Semitism most pronouncedly on social media – from “both the right and the left.” He noted, however, that his colleague Ben Shapiro, who presents quite clearly as a conservative on most issues, has also been subjected to anti-Semitic attacks from both the right and the left.

Tapper added thought that the roughest period for him as a Jewish reporter was when he was covering the Israel-Gaza war (I’m not sure to which one he was referring. It was probably the war in 2014, which lasted almost seven weeks – one which I also personally experienced.) when he came under attack for both being too critical of Israel and too supportive.
Yet he added, with reference to any anti-Semitism he may have experienced, “compared to what my female colleagues who are Latino or Asian go through, it’s nothing.”

In retrospect, thinking about how I began this report of Jake Tapper’s lecture, perhaps I was a shad too dismissive of what he had to say. It would have been unfair to expect him to offer the kind of learned wisdom that a Margaret MacMillan was able to impart – 100 years after the end of World War I, about the long term effects of that war.
Still, there are commentators out there, including on CNN – such as Fareed Zakaria, who specialize in offering deep insight into the issues of the day. And maybe next year whoever is invited won’t have to use the excuse that he was called upon to anchor his network’s coverage of congressional hearings as a reason not to appear in person. Say Jake, when did you actually decide you weren’t going to be coming to Winnipeg? I dare say it was long before you knew you were going to be anchoring CNN’s coverage of the congressional hearings, wasn’t it?

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Israeli representative in Canada Sarah Mali talks about October 7 heroes

By MYRON LOVE Conflict often produces acts of heroism – but it is not only warriors who become heroes.  As Sarah Mali noted, heroism can come in many forms.  
 
Mali, the Director General of JFC-UIA Canada in Israel, made a stop in our community on Thursday, May 30, on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, during which she did a presentation at the Berney Theatre providing an update on the situation in the Jewish State from her perspective as  an Israeli – with a  focus on the different faces of heroism..
The British-born Mali made Aliyah in 2000 after earning a degree from the London School of Economics.  She also has degrees from the Hebrew University and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  The mother of four – the older two currently serving in the Israel Defence Forces – was the Director of Israel Engagement for the Jewish Federation of Toronto from 2007 to 2012. She returned to Israel to undertake her current assignment in 2012 and now lives in Jerusalem.
Mali is an accomplished writer and public speaker who was named one of “50 of Our Favorite Women Right Now” by ”Future of Judaism” in 2022.
Mali was introduced by Paula Parks, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg’s President.  She presented her stories of heroism through a series of photographs. She began by recalling the first time in Israel that she heard sirens going off.  “I was in the car with one of my daughters,” she recounted.  “We weren’t quite sure what to do at first. But we got out of the car and did what all Israelis do.
“These past eight months, sirens have been sounded almost daily. Just recently, there was renewed rocket fire toward Tel Aviv.” 
 
The first group of heroes that Mali highlighted was the group of 14 young female soldiers who were kidnapped from their IDF base near Kibbutz Nahal Oz – near the Gaza border – which was overrun on October 7.
She spoke of the 60,000 residents of Israel’s north who were forced to leave their homes because of the danger from Hezbollah in the north and the heroic way that their fellow Israelis throughout the country have opened their homes and hearts to these internally displaced refugees, along with survivors of the attacks by Hamas in the south.
While Mali noted that she and her family are safe – living in the centre of the country – she described a recurring nightmare of loss. 
She told the story of Avitel Aladjem from Kibbutz Holit.  When the kibbutz was attacked, Aladjem was tasked by her neighbor, Canadian-born Adi Vital Kaploun, with looking after the latter’s two children – a three year old boy and a baby. Kaploun was murdered and Aladjem and the children were put on bicycles and driven to the Gaza border. For some strange and miraculous reason, the terrorist left the threesome at the border.  So Aladjem put the baby in a sling, picked up the three-year-old boy and carried both children back to safety.

Mali further praised the courage of the Magen David Adom medics who unhesitatingly put themselves in danger in those early desperate hours to save lives – and have continued saving lives throughout the war.  She recounted one story about an Israeli soldier who was shot in the neck and pronounced dead.  One medic, however, noticed that he was wearing a wedding band.
The medic noted that meant someone was waiting for the soldier at home and suggested the first responders should check him again  for any vital signs.  They found a pulse and had him evacuated by helicopter right away.  He was able to make a full recovery.
(Mali also noted that more than 15,000 Israeli soldiers have been wounded in the current conflict.)
One of the photos that Mali put on screen was the rescuer visiting the recovering soldier in hospital.
She spoke of the tremendous efforts of Israeli mental health professionals who have been having to deal with tens of thousands of traumatized Israeli of all ages.
She noted the miracle of her own daughter recently giving birth – bringing a new life into a world gone mad.
Another photo she posted was of a letter from a seven-year-old girl in Toronto who wanted to donate $23 to Israel to help with food, clothing and housing.
Mali’s final paean was to all the Jewish communities in the Diaspora – including our own – that have raised tremendous sums of money (over $4 million alone from our community), have staged rallies in support of our Israeli brethren, and many of whom have travelled to Israel, not only to show their support, but also to volunteer to help in many ways. 
“You are all heroes,” Mali told her audience.
Following her presentation, Mali took several questions from the audience.  One question concerned the ongoing conflict with Hezbollah in the north. “My head tells me that the IDF has to end Hezbollah,” Mali responded.  “But, as a mother with children serving in the IDF, I would be terrified.”
In answer to a second question about what some view as Israel’s poor public relations record, Mali pointed out that a major problem is that the Western media see the conflict – and the world –  in terms of victims and oppressors, and the Palestiniand in this worldview are ever the victims – and therefore, can do no wrong – while the Israelis are the oppressors whose every actions are judged as criminal or evil.
In concluding, Mali described the strong sense of determination and solidarity among most Israelis – an attitude exemplified by her own 17-year-old son who is impatient to join the IDF and take up the fight.
She added that “We Israelis want you to come to Israel, hear our stories and share them back in your communities.
 “Israel is a strong country with a strong army,” she observed.  “We are fighting not just for our own people but also for all Jews – and we are fighting against evil. This is our moment.”

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New York-based choreographer Josh Assor returning to hometown and Rainbow Stage for upcoming “Mary Poppins” production

By MYRON LOVE Josh Assor has a lengthy history, both with “Mary Poppins” and Rainbow Stage. So it would seem to be a no-brainer for Canada’s only summer theatre to invite the former Winnipegger-turned New York-based choreographer to return to his home town to choreograph this summer’s Rainbow Stage production of Mary Poppins (August 15-September 1).
Assor’s first experience with the beloved musical came just a short time into his stage career.  In 2011, the son of Hanania and Leslie Assor was cast in a touring production as Neleus, the statue who is brought to life by Mary.  In February 2012, he was elevated to the Broadway production in the same role.  In 2018, having transitioned from acting to choreography, he was tasked with choreographing a production of “Mary Poppins” at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, Missouri.  (He was invited back to Arrow Rock in 2019 to choreograph “Cinderella”).
“It is always nice to come back to Winnipeg where I started my career,” Assor says.
When it comes to musical theatre, Josh Assor has written a story of great success.  He was attracted to theatre and acting from a very young age. He actually began with some television roles, followed by stage work.  Some of the shows that he appeared in at Rainbow Stage were: “Peter Pan”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat” and “The Little Mermaid”.
Along the way, the young performer began taking dancing lessons.  “I started training rather later in life in dance,” he recalls. “I enrolled in Ken Peter Dance Express when I was 15.  Originally, I was most interested in hip hop.  I then followed with tap and, a couple of years later, I began studying all forms of dance, including jazz, ballet and musical theatre.  By the time I was 17, I had decided to seriously pursue a career in the theatre.”
Assor attended Gray Academy to the end of Grade 9, then moved to Grant Park High School for Grades 10-12 to take the school’s well-known performing arts program. 
The budding performer left Winnipeg after graduation for Los Angeles where he had scored a scholarship to study at the prestigious EDGE Performing Arts Center.  He then moved to Toronto – at age 19 – to begin the next phase of his career.
“I signed with an agent in Toronto,” he said in an earlier interview with the Jewish Post. “Toronto is where most of the auditions take place.  I did some television but mostly worked on the stage.”
His first major role was in a production of “West Side Story” at the Stratford Festival in 2008, he recounts.
While he may have been based in Toronto over a period of three years, he notes, he spent a year in Montreal and the rest of the time in touring productions, which continued after his move to New York in 2010. 
In addition to touring with “Mary Poppins,”  he also toured as a  member of the cast of “The Wizard of Oz” and Disney’s first national tour of “Newsies” (in which he was the assistant dance captain).
After more than two years in ‘”Newsies,” Assor explained in that earlier interview, he was ready for a change of pace.  “From day one, to become a choreographer was always my goal,” he noted.   “I am happiest when I can be at my most creative.  I felt that I had had a good run as a performer.  I accomplished what I had wanted.  It was time to focus on my development as a choreographer.”
Back in New York,  his goal was to become a member of the faculty of the world-renowned Broadway Dance Centre.  He started as a substitute teacher, became a guest instructor and, for the past several years, has been a member of the faculty, focusing on musical theatre.
“People come from all over the world to study with us,” Assor said.
In addition to his teaching, Assor has continued to work professionally as a choreographer. Choreographic credits include: New York Fashion Week, the New York City Knicks, Audi, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Modos Furniture, Hard Rock Hotel, and Soho House, as well as regional productions of “Mary Poppins,” “Anastasia,” “Fiddler On The Roof,” “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” “Cinderella,” “Newsies,” and the world premiere of “Medicine the Musical,” which ran off-Broadway. He also choreographed Cedar Point (Ohio) Amusement Park’s 150th Anniversary Spectacular ,as well as the series ‘DJ Burnt Bannock,’ produced by Eagle Vision. He was the associate choreographer for the “Saturday Night Fever” National Tour as well as the Canadian Premier of “Newsies.”
In March 2020,  due to the pandemic lockdowns, Assor came home to Winnipeg for a while and, once here, he got a job with Eagle Vision, working with them for almost a year behind the scenes on a number of large scale television and film projects, such as “Burden Of Truth” and “Esther”.
Assor is currently choreographing a production of “Fiddler On The Roof” that just opened at a theatre in the Boston Area called North Shore Music Theater. He reports that he will also be choreographing “Fiddler” again in Connecticut in early 2025.
He adds that he has a new show that he choreographed – titled “Retrospect” – that will be mounted in various theme parks across the US.  Also coming up is a  week-long dance retreat at the End of August – which he co-owns with Orielle Marcus – titled “The Reset Dance Retreat”. 

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Penny Jones Square passionate advocate for Israel

By MYRON LOVE Perception is not reality.  While the perception may be that the world is once more against Jews and the State of Israel, we are not reliving the darkest days of the 1930s and early 1940s.  Polls consistently show that in both Canada and the United States, the great majority of the population is on our side.
In our own community, we can see the strong support we receive from such Christian Zionist friends as Reverend Don and Victoria James and their fellow Bridges For Peace members,;Pastor Rudy and Gina Fidel and the members of his Faith Temple; and John Plantz and the Church and Field Ministries.
But there may not be a more ardent supporter of Israel and fighter against antisemitism in our community than Penny Jones Square.  Penny has long had a strong feeling for Israel and the Jewish people but, since the horrendous events of October 7, she has taken it to an entirely new level.
Over the past eight months, Penny has been ubiquitous.  She has been attending pro-Israel rallies and speakers as well as counter-protests against anti-Israel protests.  In May alone, she was at the reading of the Megillat Shoah,  B’nai Brith’s “Unto Every Person There is a Name”, the Yom HaZikaron ceremony at the Rady Centre,  the JNF’s “Warriors’ Journeys” with two IDF reserve soldiers, and the Bridges for Peace event, “It’s about Time”, a ceremony in honour of Jewish Heritage Month at the Manitoba Legislature, the weekly rally in support of the hostages at Kenaston and Grant, and the Jewish Federation evening “Update from the Ground” with Sara Mali, Director General of JFC-UIA Canada in Israel.
Penny has also found time to pop up at one of the anti-Israel protests at City Hall  and the pro-Palestinian student encampment at the University of Manitoba  to take photos and report on them – as well as Ron East’s screening of his Oct. 7 massacre video at the University of  Winnipeg encampment.
I first met Penny seven years ago while on a JNF mission to Israel.  We found that we had similar views on a range of subjects.  On Tuesday, June 4, I was able to meet with Penny at the Asper Campus and gained an understanding of what inspired her devotion to Israel and the Jewish people.
Penny –  who grew up in Riverview and River Heights, attended the University of Manitoba and has an MA in English from there –  recalled that she “was awakened to the horrors of the Holocaust” at the age of 13 after seeing the 1959 movie, “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
“That led me to an ongoing study of antisemitism and the Holocaust and my abiding interest in standing up for Jews and fighting antisemitism,” she said.  “Along the way, I have acquired a profound admiration for Judaism and Jews who are, to my mind, ‘the light unto the nations’ that they were commanded to be.”
At the age of 22, she married David Square (who passed away almost three years ago) and they moved to a plot of land near Tyndall, Manitoba – off the grid, so to speak.  Penny and David spent four years building their own log home, cutting down trees from their property for the logs.
“We pursued our vision of living a self-sufficient lifestyle,” she recounted, “living mortgage-free, cutting our own firewood, growing our own food, and creating a magical sanctuary with flower gardens, two Zen gardens, a vegetable garden and numerous forest trails for walking and cross country skiing.”
She concedes that “it was a difficult life maintaining gardens, lawns and trails and bringing in the winter firewood – as well as working as one-of-a-kind art furniture designers and builders, but it was also a life blessed by the natural beauty surrounding us and by the beauty we created in our home, our art, and our cherished refuge”.
After almost 20 years, the couple closed their custom furniture business. While David pursued a career as a journalist and novelist, Penny worked at the University of Manitoba in the bookstore and as a tutor.
(A few months ago, Penny sold her property in the country and moved into Winnipeg.)
It was in 2007 that Penny really began to immerse herself in the study of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.  It started when she signed up for Dr. Catherine Chatterley’s course on the history of antisemitism and the Holocaust.  (Chatterley specializes in the study of modern European history and the Holocaust and is the founder of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism.)
“I spent some time as a grader for her course and as a copy editor for her journal, “Anti-Semitism Studies,” Penny said.  “David and I promoted her annual lectures.  David took photos and I published articles about them.”
The couple also joined Winnipeg Friends of Israel – founded by Yolanda Papini-Pollock – and Penny helped with some of Papini-Pollock’s initiatives.
Penny notes that her love for Israel and admiration for the Jewish people was greatly strengthened by that 2017 trip to the Jewish State.  “To witness the transformation of a land of malarial swamps and desert to the wonder of Israel’s astonishing natural beauty, its olive and almond groves, forested areas and vibrant and thriving kibbutzim,  moshavim and cities – as well as the joy, resilience and exuberance of the Israeli people was awe-inspiring – while our tour of Yad Vashem was overwhelming and intensely saddening.
“In this present moment, I believe that it is my moral responsibility to denounce the immoral and irrational hatred of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism fiercely, fearlessly and honestly and state my allegiance  with the righteous and ethical example of Israel and the Jewish people.  Moral courage and a commitment to the truth are what is required of us to stop the lies and prevent this radical evil that is Islamic Jihadism from prevailing over the good and the humane, democratic values.”

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