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Hebrew U prof disputes image of Jerusalem as polarized city

Noam Shoval is definitely not in favour of redividing Jerusalem.
Despite some groups’ plans for such a division in the name of peace, the Hebrew University Geography Professor and lifelong Jerusalemite argues that dividing the ancient city will not bring about peace.

“Division will only make things worse,” he said. “Cities are divided as a result of war, not in an effort to make peace. Stakeholders need to understand that Jerusalem is a living city like any other living city. In terms of housing, there are certainly segregated areas but, in all other respects, that is not the case.”
Speaking to a large gathering at the Campus on Monday, May 4 (a program co-sponsored by the Winnipeg chapter of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University, The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and the Centre fort Israel and Jewish Affairs), Shoval backed up his assertions with a report on a study that he was involved in that tracked 16,000 Jerusalem residents over 24 hours with GPS devices and then interviewed them.
“The study showed that there is a lot of shared space in the city centre,” he reported. “We found that 45%-50% of Arabs spend some time in (largely) Jewish West Jerusalem and other Jewish areas while 85% of Jews pass through Arab neighbourhoods during the course of a day.”
He added that Arab women who participated in the survey said that they enjoyed shopping in Jewish neighbourhoods because they felt freer in those areas away from the harassment that they might receive while out and about in Arab areas.
Shoval began his presentation by noting that not only is he a lifelong Jerusalemite, but also that he is a third generation graduate and employee of the Hebrew University.
He noted that while Jerusalem is a place of pilgrimage for three religions and a spiritual symbol, the real earthly city is quite small and is one of the poorest cities in Israel. “The most important industry is tourism,” he noted.
He pointed out that the 3,800-year-old walled Old City is quite small – the distance from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to the Temple Mount is only about the size of three to four hockey rinks.
He also pointed out that, contrary to those Westerners who view Israel as a European colonial implant, Jerusalem has had an overall Jewish majority since 1870, well before the advent of Zionism.
Although the city’s population of about 800,000 has a Jewish majority, he noted, the Arab minority is growing. “Part of the problem,” he said, “has been the difficulty of building new housing in Jerusalem.”
Part of the problem (re building), he attributes to international pressure. Then there is the environmental factor. There was a comprehensive plan to expand Jerusalem to the west of the city. That plan was stymied by strong lobbying from Israel’s Green movement, which was concerned about protecting the Jerusalem Forest  west of Jerusalem.
The result of the housing shortage has meant that housing prices are extremely expensive. That has forced many younger people, including many younger Haredim, to look elsewhere for housing, such as the newer Jewish neighbourhoods and settlement blocs to the north, south and east of the city.
(The Palestinians don’t leave, he noted, because those who do lose their valued Israeli residency permits.)
There are now over 550,000 people – 10% of Israel’s population – living over the Green Line (the 1948 armistice lines that have never been officially recognized internationally as a border), Shoval noted.
While only one country – Micronesia – and some American evangelical Christians accept the settlement blocs beyond the Green Line as part of Jewish Israel, he reported, all Israelis do. And, he added, that in any peace agreement with the Palestinians, these areas will remain part of Israel. The Palestinians would be compensated with areas of land now in Israel proper that border the Palestinian Authority’s domains.
In response to a question as to whether the PA would ever accept a peace agreement without east Jerusalem as their capital, Shoval pointed out that the PA have already built their legislature in Abu Dis, a place just outside the city to the southeast and an area that is adjacent to the Old City walls.
As to the image in the outside world of Jerusalem being a dangerous and violent city, Shoval again used statistics to refute that belief. Comparing Jerusalem’s crime rates to Pittsburgh (where he spent a sabbatical), he pointed out that in 2012, Jerusalem reported one murder per 100,000 people as compared to 41 murders per 100,000 in Pittsburgh (which was only the 18th worst result among American cities). In the same year, there were just 13 robberies per 100,000 people in Jerusalem compared to 360 per 100,000 in Pittsburgh.
“Toronto has twice the rate of robberies and Vancouver three times the rate of Jerusalem,” he said. “And Winnipeg has two times the rate of robberies as Vancouver.”
Terror? There were nine terror-related deaths in Jerusalem last year, he said – and that was the highest number in several years.
As for Palestinian views of the future, Shoval reported the results of a 2010-2011 survey that found that 40% of Palestinians living in Jerusalem want to remain under Israeli governance, 30% say they would prefer living in a Palestinian state and the others weren’t sure.
In introducing Professor Shoval, Margaret Shuckett, president of the Winnipeg chapter of CFHU, noted that the Hebrew University – which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, is the top-rated university in the Middle East and is ranked 57th among the world’s universities.
She also encouraged those in attendance to consider signing up for the Hebrew University’s annual Live and Learn Trip, which this year includes a stop in Greece as well as Israel.
For further information, readers can call the CFHU office here at 204 942-3085.

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Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive

David Newman (right): David died helping to save the lives of others who were at the music festival on October 7 when Hamas massacred hundreds of attendees

By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.

But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to
Reprinted with permission.

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Our New Jewish Reality

Indigo bookstore in Toronto defaced

By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

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Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead

Jewish Post & News file photo

Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.

To read the full story on the CBC website, go to

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