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Overwhelming gesture of generosity brings Manitoba Aboriginal man to Israel

Dreman BarnardBy BERNIE BELLAN
Solly Dreman is an individual about whom we’ve written many times in this newspaper.

A former Winnipeger, Solly made Aliyah in 1964 and has lived in Israel ever since – although he did spend time in the United States when he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco in 1977-78. Now retired from his long-held post as a full professor of psychology at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Solly now works and lives in Jerusalem with his wife, Orly.
Since his retirement, Solly has actively engaged in extensive volunteer work with the elderly, with ultra orthodox youth who have become secular and are at high risk for mental disorders and suicide,  has served on a mental health hot line (Eran), and has been helping youth with severe learning disorders (ADD and ADHD).
In September 2016 Solly returned to Winnipeg where he gave a lecture on “Immigrants, Refugees and Terrorism: Is There Hope?”, sponsored by the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, the Winnipeg Friends of Israel, the Canadian Associates of Ben Gurion University and this newspaper. At that time he and Orly also hosted 60 friends and family members at a reunion luncheon. Don Barnard, a professional photographer and individual of Aboriginal background was recommended by Yolanda Papini-Pollock, executive director of the grass roots organization, “Winnipeg Friends of Israel”, to video both his lecture and the reunion.
Don explains that he met Yolanda “while working with her and Rogers Ofime (international award winning director and producer from Nigeria, Africa) on the film ‘Never again a broken promise’, a documentary on genocides.” He adds that he is “still working with Yolanda on a series of videos on the Holocaust.”
Though Don is multi-talented – being a videographer, filmmaker and actor, he has not had an easy time of it during his 49 years. He is on the autistic spectrum, affected by Asperger Syndrome, which has caused him considerable hardship during his lifetime. Also contributing to his plight was the fact that he was born into a Métis family; his father was a residential school survivor who has experienced considerable discrimination over his lifetime. Coming from a disadvantaged background, Don, at the age of 12, was placed in foster care, where he was exposed to considerable physical and psychological abuse. On top of that he was held back in his schooling, even though he had an IQ at the genius level of 157 – which was only recognized in his later youth when he was subsequently advanced several grades.
With difficulty finding steady employment, he has been living in a Manitoba Housing Unit in Fannystelle, which is a 45-minute drive southwest of Winnipeg. As well, his not owning a car made accessing employment for professional and personal purposes very difficult . For example, while he was relying on a charitable food bank located in the city for subsistence purposes, he had to hitchhike to the city in order to save money to purchase a camera.
But, here’s another very interesting aspect of Don’s life: He’s a staunch supporter of Israel.
“I used to go online and post in favour of Israel,” he notes. “I came to my own conclusions about that country” – ones , he is quick to admit, that are often at odds with the prevailing views in the Aboriginal community. Don says that he views the Jewish people in Israel as an indigenous, displaced people – much as he perceives himself as a member of a displaced first nation. As you will see, his recent trip to Israel has had a profound effect upon his views of that country.
As for Solly Dreman – and why he came forth with such a generous offer to someone he barely knew – well – he’s always been a very kind and outgoing individual. (Those are my words, by the way – not Solly’s. I’ve had the good fortune to meet him several times  and you’re not going to find a warmer person.)
By the way Solly told me that his Masters and Doctoral theses were on the subject of “Altruism” – which only makes sense given his own penchant for giving.
When Solly heard Don’s sad story at the time of his lecture and reunion in September 2016 he told me, “My heart went out to him”. What Solly also learned about Don – and that was one of the keys to what transpired after that September meeting, is that he was a staunch supporter of Israel.
On the spot, Solly told Don he planned to invite him to come to Israel, all expenses paid. This year the offer came to fruition with Don’s trip to Israel . “The prospect of seeing that part of the world was a pipe dream for me’” Don says. “I was disadvantaged – and needed someone to give me some hope. Solly did that for me.”
And, so it came to be, with Don flying to Israel last month. Solly and Orly hosted Don in their Jerusalem home for one week and along with their son (Solly’s stepson), Oren Cytto, a licensed tour guide, travelled extensively in Israel. Don is planning to make a documentary movie about his trip which, he says, he will share with the Aboriginal community as well as the Winnipeg community at large.
“My take on Israel,” says Don during a video interview he shot with Solly at the tail end of his trip, “is that it is the most beautiful place I’ve seen in my life. It’s multicultural, but it’s uniquely Jewish. It’s multiple distinct societies pushed together…I can’t think of another place in the world where in such a short distance you’re walking from one world into another.”
As for the kindness and hospitality that were shown to Don by Solly and Orly, here’s what he had to say in the video interview with Solly: “What I find about you, Solly, is that you have a wonderful mix of charm and personality – absent mindedness too, but a fire within you that makes for an absolutely enjoyable experience. But, when it comes to the planning, Orly is the brains and backbone of this entire operation.”
There was one more magnanimous gesture toward the very end of the trip that really floored Don. “The other bombshell that happened in Israel is that Solly bought me a professional level video camera!” he says. Not only that, but upon Don’s return to Canada in February, Solly contacted Larry Vickar and other prominent members of the Winnipeg Jewish community to try and obtain some more help for Don. Don tells me that Larry arranged for him to get a car on very reasonable terms, including the provision of photographic services to Larry’s car dealership enterprise.
Don now says that, with his new car and camera, “I am also working on several other projects currently and looking to build my business and my life.”
But, is there anything expected of Don in return? Not anything more than perhaps helping to spread the message about Israel as he has already been doing for years prior to his trip. “I’d like to counter the message that Aboriginal youth are getting in the prisons and the mixed martial arts clubs” where they typically hear a completely slanted pro-Palestinian point of view, Don explains. “If the opportunity ever came for me to speak with Aboriginal youth or to the community at large I would gladly share my message with them about Israel,” he adds.
For one man, at least, a gesture of supreme generosity – and a totally unexpected one at that, just might make all the difference in the world in turning his life around. For Don Barnard, having someone like Solly Dreman enter his life is something he would never have dreamed possible. It will be interesting to see where life now takes him.

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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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