Connect with us

Local News

Winnipeg Police Service members receive angry reception at Jewish Federation event meant to give advice on personal safety

By BERNIE BELLAN (Posted Nov. 9) The Multipurpose Room in the Asper Campus was supposed to have been filled last night by members of the community wanting to hear from representatives of the Winnipeg Police Service in an event billed as “Responding to Hate: Safety and Security Presentation.”
But there were many empty chairs. Attendees had been required to register in advance – and registration was cut off at 200. Apparently many of those 200 who had registered decided not to come – which was a terrible shame, since many others who had wanted to attend had been told there was no room for them.

What ensued Wednesday evening beginning at 7:10 pm, Wednesday evening, November 8, in the Multipurpose Room of the Campus was a somewhat disorganized series of presentations by various members of the WPS, followed by what became at times a quite heated, often emotional question and answer session.

Here are the major takeaways from the event:
Jewish Federation President Gustavo Zentner introduced eight different members of the WPS to the audience. He said that “this is a community dedicated to the rule of law. We are extremely concerned when we see people burning Israeli flags and when we see police standing by them when they are chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Dave Dalal, Superintendent, Uniform Operations, WPS, told the audience that, on October 26, the WPS had asked representatives from both the pro-Palestine and pro-Israel communities not to hold counter protests when the other side was holding a rally. Since that date, both sides had respected the WPS’s request, Dalal said.
Dalal asked that anyone who has information or a complaint about what might be considered a hate crime should call the police non-emergency line: 204-986-6222, and press 8 on the dial pad.

In addition to information given by Dalal, there was also interesting information given by Gord Perrier, Director of Campus Security at the University of Manitoba.
Responses that Dalal and Perrier gave to questions from the audience provided greater insight into the thinking of senior police officers than one might have expected. Dalal especially was quite defensive when he was accused of allowing hate speech to occur at various pro-Palestinian rallies that have taken place in recent weeks. When Dalal (and other members of the WPS who were present) claimed that nothing that had been heard at any of those rallies would have constituted a “hate crime,” local pro-Israel organizer Ron East challenged members of the WPS, asking them whether they had anyone on the force who spoke Arabic?
East claimed that some of what had been said at some of those rallies – in Arabic – would have qualified as hate speech. In response, Dalal did say that the WPS does have members on the force who speak Arabic. He also said that there are Jewish members in the WPS.

Another audience member said he has audio evidence of hate speech in Arabic that was said at one of those rallies. Dalal asked that audience member to give that evidence to the WPS.
Another WPS representative, Bonnie Emerson (Community Engagement) gave a fairly lengthy presentation on how hate speech is defined in the criminal code.
In response to a question why pro-Palestinian protesters were allowed to block off Portage and Main, Emerson said, “It’s complex – and we’re dealing with a crowd environment. We have to be deliberate and careful when we take action.”
With reference to whether something is “hate speech,” Emerson said “It’s not clear what is hate speech. For the Jewish community it may be hate speech, but to other communities it may not be. The criminal code is not specific. Unless there is case law backing up that it’s hate speech, it’s not illegal.”
In response, Gustavo Zentner suggested that “part of the (angry) reaction from the back (where some people had been interrupting Emerson’s remarks) is people take it as an endorsement by inaction.”

Gord Perrier, Director of Campus Security (who was also a 25-year veteran of the WPS) was not at the front of the room when the eight members of the WPS gave various presentations to the audience. Dalal referred to his presence, however and, in response to a direct question from a member of the audience who said they were concerned about the safety of Jewish students at the University of Manitoba, Dalal asked Perrier whether he could answer the question.
Perrier spoke about a “vigil” that was held by pro-Palestinian students at the U of M on October 13. He said there had been consultation with organizers of the vigil prior to the event. The organizers were told there could be “no chanting” and “no flags on staffs.” (According to Perrier, flag staffs could be considered weapons.)
When chanting did begin, one of the organizers attempted to have the chanting stopped, Perrier said, but he was ignored to start with. Also, a flagstaff did appear.
Perrier also addressed the question of hate speech – and why no one has been charged with a hate crime yet in Manitoba since October 7. (To provide some context, many members of the audience were angry that pro-Palestinian demonstrators are continually allowed to chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”)
Perrier explained that a charge of hate speech has to be approved by the attorney general of the province in which the hate speech has allegedly occurred.
He admitted though, that despite the campus police at the U of M having “increased physical security on campus… a lot of the staff don’t have historical knowledge” of what’s led up to the heated atmosphere between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel students. “There’s a lot of training going on,” Perrier noted.
“We reach out to every organizer of a rally telling them it has to be respectful and safe,” he suggested.

Another audience member referred to what is apparently a very tense situation at St. Johns Ravenscourt school, saying “I have kids at SJR and we’re seeing a lot of conflict between Arab and Jewish kids.”
That person said his kid had been told “We’re going to finish you.”

At one point Gustavo Zentner referred to something that is being planned for “November 13,” but he didn’t immediately explain what he was talking about. It was only after a while that he said there is some sort of walkout being planned for high schools in Winnipeg that day. (We contacted Ruth Ashrafi, Regional Director, B’nai Brith Canada, to ask whether she knew what Gustavo was talking about. Ruth sent us a picture of a poster that’s circulating on social media by a group known as “Queers for Palestine,” which in itself is a ridiculous name as queers are persecuted in Palestinian areas – often killed – thrown off rooftops by Hamas, for instance, and often flee to Israel where they’re safe, but let’s leave aside one of the many contradictions associated with pro-Palestinian groups.)

An audience member asked Superintendent Dalal, “What would you do if it was your family being threatened?”
Dalal responded: “We are bound by the rule of law. We have Jewish officers. We also have officers who wish and hope that their neighbours don’t know they’re police officers.”
Someone else asked: “How do we make our kids feel safe when they’re in a school where they know other kids hate them?”
Part of the answer that was given was “There are many people in the MIddle Eastern community here who are opposed to antisemitism.”

To Israelis in the audience – Gustavo Zentner had this to say: “Everyone of us who was either born in Israel or moved there – we are mindful of your concerns.”
And, in addressing the often heated criticism levelled at the WPS during what turned into a very emotional evening for some members of the audience, Jewish Federation President Jeff Lieberman said, “We’ve been in constant touch with the WPS since October 7 and we appreciate that the moment we asked you (WPS) whether you would come out and meet with us tonight – you agreed.”

Local News

RBC freezes client’s bank account by mistake – and keeps it frozen without explanation

By BERNIE BELLAN (June 14, 2024) What would you do if, one day, you tried to use your debit card to pay for something or to take a cash withdrawal – and the card didn’t work? But then, after contacting your bank to try and find out why that’s happening, you’re simply told your account is frozen – without any further explanation? And, only after deducing that the bank froze the account of the wrong individual, does the bank finally admit its error.
Such was the case recently with an RBC client who happened to be a relative of mine and who enlisted my help in trying to figure out why their account had been frozen by RBC.

On May 1 I was contacted by my relative asking for my help. They couldn’t understand why their debit card wasn’t working. They told me that their card had stopped working five days prior. (It should be explained this individual does not have sophisticated knowledge how to deal with a problem of this sort and they simply thought there was a glitch in using their card that would be corrected in short order by the bank.)

After several days of not being able to use their card, my relative explained, they had phoned RBC on April 30, but were not offered any explanation as to why their account had been frozen. They were told, however, that the matter was in the hands of a Vancouver branch of RBC. My relative was even further puzzled. They lived in Winnipeg and had never even been to Vancouver. What did their account being frozen have to do with a Vancouver branch of RBC, they wondered?

The day my relative contacted me, I told them to come over to my house and that I would try and get an RBC customer service representative on the phone to obtain some sort of explanation as to why their account had been frozen. After getting an RBC customer service representative on the phone and explaining who I was, I asked permission to listen in on the conversation between my relative and the RBC customer service representative. The customer service representative agreed to allow that, but during the course of the conversation they said they were not able to offer any information as to why the RBC client’s card had been frozen.
Both my relative and I were totally puzzled. RBC had frozen their account but would offer no explanation for why that had happened.

Later that day, however, my relative contacted me again to say that they wondered whether it was possible their account had been frozen by mistake because they had the same name as another relative? That other individual does live in Vancouver, so it began to make sense to me. I don’t know that individual well, but was able to contact them after getting their phone number from someone who knew them.
I phoned that person but just got their voice messaging, so I left a message asking them to call me. In a few minutes that individual did call me back and did say, not only that they had an RBC account, but that they had some legal issues related to debts (without going into specifics).

Immediately it occurred to me that my Winnipeg relative’s account had been frozen by mistake and that it was this Vancouver relative whose account was the one RBC had intended to freeze.

I phoned RBC back again and said that it was apparent RBC had frozen the account of the wrong individual. When I gave a detailed explanation of what evidently had happened, this time the RBC customer service representative told us to go down to the branch where my relative does their banking, where we would be met by a banking representative.

At the branch we met with a very nice RBC representative who said they had been brought up to speed as to what had happened. The bank representative explained that my relative’s account had been frozen as the result of a court order that had been issued in Vancouver to freeze the account of someone with the same name. The representative said that my relative could still not use their debit card to access cash, but the representative would be able to give them cash that they could use until their account was unfrozen.

At that time I suggested that what RBC had done was an outrageous mistake and that RBC ought to offer compensation to my relative. The branch representative said RBC was willing to waive bank fees for my relative for six months – apparently worth something in the order of $80 altogether.
The representative also gave me the name of the law firm that had applied for the court order that had led to the wrong account being frozen.

I contacted that law firm the same day and explained what had happened to a lawyer from the firm. The lawyer told me that the court order that had been applied for and had been issued by a court specifically gave the number of the bank account that was to be frozen. The lawyer sent me a copy of the bank order.

It was apparent that someone at RBC had made a huge mistake. They had ignored the order to freeze a specific account belonging to a specific RBC client and instead had frozen the account of a totally different RBC client who happened to have the same name!
When I discovered how egregious a mistake RBC had made – after reading the court order, I contacted the same RBC branch representative who had offered to freeze the fees on my relative’s account and said that my relative expected a lot more in compensation for such an outrageous mistake than simply having bank fees waived for six months.

On May 22, the RBC branch representative wrote in an email to me:
“Your request for compensation has also been escalated to our RBC client care department. They will reach out directly.”

On June 11 we contacted the branch representative to say that my relative had not heard anything from the client care department. On June 12 the branch rep wrote to me to say that an RBC client care representative had indeed attempted to contact my relative – both via phone and email. The phone number that was given in the email though was no longer in service and when we checked with our relative they said they hadn’t received an email.

On June 12 we emailed the RBC client care representative to ask them to attempt to contact our relative again. We did not hear back from that representative. To date our relative says they have not heard anything from the client care representative.

The upshot is RBC made a huge mistake and froze an account of the wrong individual – causing them distress and frustration, and only after we were able to figure out what had led to the wrong account being frozen, did RBC unfreeze the account. And, even though we asked for compensation over a month ago, no response has been received from RBC.

Continue Reading

Local News

Record crowd of 50,000 turns out for pro-Israel Toronto event

By DAVE GORDON (June 11, 2024 / JNS) More than 50,000 pro-Israel people turned out for the UJA Walk with Israel in Toronto on Sunday, a record turnout for the event which is in its 55th year.
Adam Hummel, a lawyer in Toronto, told JNS that it was “remarkable and uplifting to see so many Jews come together” this year for the 5K walk (about 3 miles.)
“I was dumbstruck how many people were gathered and feeling the energy and community, especially when we have been struck by so much sorrow,” Hummel said.
Although it seemed in prior years that people attended out of inertia, this year was different, according to Hummel.
“It felt like people needed to be there,” he said. “Because of everything we have gone through as a community, and what Israelis went through, people needed to show up to stand with Israel.”
The event, a project of the UJA Federation of Toronto, moved from the heavily-Jewish neighborhood at the Bathurst Street corridor at Lawrence Avenue to the Federation’s Sherman Campus, which was rebuilt several years ago. 
Guidy Mamann also told JNS that this year’s event felt different.
“I’ve been to many, many walks for Israel since I was a kid,” the Toronto lawyer said. “Normally, people go because they want to have fun and see old faces, but I think this year it was driven by a need to go.”
“There was a sense of needing to go to this walk-a-thon because of the trauma we’ve been through together,” he said. “We needed to feel each other and see each other in large numbers. I think the community really needed that.”
Brendan Shanahan, president of the Maple Leafs, the Toronto hockey team, and the singer Montana Tucker, who sang the Israeli national anthem, were among the celebrities present.
“We are thrilled by the overwhelming support for the walk this year from our community and our friends and neighbors across Greater Toronto,” stated Jeff Rosenthal, chair of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. “To see a record-breaking turnout this year speaks volumes about our community’s pride, resilience and determination to show our city who we are and what we stand for.”
Exceptions for Jews
Michael Kerzner, the solicitor general of Ontario, and Melissa Lantsman, deputy leader of the Conservative Party, attended the event. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Olivia Chow, Toronto’s first Chinese-Canadian mayor, reportedly were not present.
Chow, who had skipped what she called a “divisive” annual Israeli flag raising at City Hall the prior month, said in an interview with a popular Toronto radio station on Monday morning that she had a prior commitment and couldn’t attend Sunday’s event.
“She wasn’t missed,” said David Burstein, a Toronto dentist.
“It was one of the most outstanding communal Jewish experiences of my life, and I’ve lived in Toronto my entire life. The energy was fantastic,” Burstein told JNS. “The fact that they got the four hostages out the day before, really helped morale and added to the joy of the day.”
Kevin Vuong, a federal politician of Chinese descent, told JNS that he was disappointed that Chow skipped the pro-Israel event, which she attended previously as a federal politician.
Vuong noted that Chow told the Jewish community that “you’re never alone” after a shooting at the Jewish girls’ elementary school Bais Chaya Mushka in Toronto in late May.
Chow’s statement implied that “she stood with Toronto’s Jewish community,” Vuong said. “She lied.”
“It’s clear that if it was any other community, she’d have been there. No mayor, nor prime minister for that matter, would skip an event attended by 50,000 Canadians,” Vuong added. “Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in the aftermath of Oct. 7, these so-called leaders make exceptions when it comes to Jews.”
Vuong and his wife attended the event “to show our support for Jews both here at home in Canada and abroad, and that meant walking the talk and walking the walk.”
‘I was shocked at the depravity’
The politician had harsh words for the hundreds of pro-Hamas demonstrators, who used bullhorns and loudspeakers to broadcast anti-Israel chants and Islamic prayers and who reportedly sought to enter a place where the event was taking place and had to be barred by law enforcement.
“One thing I couldn’t believe was that pro-Hamas supporters brought in speakers and blared the rocket sirens that go off when Israel is under attack,” Vuong told JNS. “I was shocked at the depravity that someone would think to do that in the hopes of triggering participants.”
“Sadly, I was not surprised when other counter-protesters gave up all pretenses and started cheering outright for Hamas,” he added.
Hummel, the Toronto lawyer, called the protesters “pathetic, paltry and sinister.”
“We celebrate life and they clearly do not. We were there in blue and white with our children, singing songs about life. There was a world of difference,” he told JNS. “They were wearing black and had their faces covered.”
“They stood with swastika signs. Repulsive and pathetic,” he added. “The visuals could not have been starker of what we’re fighting for, and what we are fighting against.”
Mamann, the other Toronto lawyer, told JNS that some of the protesters tailed Jewish community members after the event in a harassing way.
“These people come clear across town and out of town to disrupt us. The police were on our side. But at the end of the day, the protection doesn’t finish when the walk finishes,” he said. “There are thousands of people trying to make it home, and there is still work to do.”
Ali Siadatan was among the non-Jewish Canadians of Iranian descent who participated in the event to voice their support for the Jewish state.
“I stand with Israel because I wish to live in a free world. Israel is at the epicenter of a global ideological war,” Siadatan told JNS. “Israel’s victory will push back the forces of Islam and Marxism. Israel’s defeat would encourage these very forces to explode in the West and in Canada.”
“Even the future of Iran very much depends on the victory or defeat of Israel against the regional forces of Islamic militancy,” Siadatan added.
At the end of the walk, JNS caught up with the rapper Nissim Black, who performed at the festival, which also had kid-friendly activities and musical performances.
“Incredible energy,” Black told JNS. “It was so special seeing all those people together celebrating Eretz Hakodesh,” the Holy Land.

Continue Reading

Local News

Women Wage Peace to hold Zoom meeting in June

The late Viivan Silver z"l

We received the following email about a group that will be holding a formative meeting via Zoom this month:

Dear Friends,
Many of you may have heard of the Israel-based group called Women Wage Peace
(WWP) – Nashim Osot Shalom, which Vivian Silver (z”l) helped found ten years ago.
Some may have read the recent article about the group by Sharon Chisvin in the
Winnipeg Free Press. The group now has over 50,000 members, many all over the
world, for example, in Germany, Australia, the UK. The group is non-political and nonsectarian.
There are Jewish, Arab, Bedouin, Druze, Muslim, Christian and secular
women (and some men) across the political spectrum. It has partnered with a
Palestinian Women’s Group called Women of the Sun, and the heads of the two groups
made Time Magazine’s list of women of the Year – ‘extraordinary leaders who fight for a
more equitable future”. We just learned that Vivian has been posthumously awarded
the Hessian Peace Prize in Germany for her efforts.
WWP believes in the active participation of women through all stages of negotiations
and that we all have common interests, desires and needs for a peaceful resolution of
the conflict. WWP recognizes the need for diverse voices; the more partners there are
in the process, the greater the chances of achieving a long-lasting peace.
We are writing to you now, as we are setting up a group in Winnipeg, to support and
amplify the work of this remarkable organization. Please let us know whether you
would like to be involved with a Winnipeg/prairie group. We welcome input from all of
you.

There will be an initial Zoom meeting on June 18 at 7 pm to give everyone a chance to get to know one another and to brainstorm. Even if you are too busy to be an active participant, your support, both moral and financial, will help. And, if you know others who would be interested, please let them know about this initiative.
A major goal of WWP is to implement activities aimed at promoting the vision of a
shared society and co-existence.
Shalom/Peace/Salaam-
Esther Blum and Chana Thau
Please RSVP to wwpwinnipeg@gmail.com as to whether you would like your name to be added to our mailing list as a potential member or to follow WWP events, also to obtain the link to the Zoom meeting.
For more info on WWP, go to www.womenwagepeace.org.il

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News