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What I’ll remember most about Shimon Peres is his sense of humour

Shimon PeresBy BERNIE BELLAN In 2014 my wife Meachelle and I had the privilege of attending a Jewish media summit in Jerusalem. The highlight of that summit was seeing both then-President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on stage the same day, albeit at different times.

Following are some impressions I had of Peres who, that day, was introduced by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz. Horovitz also moderated a lively question and answer session between Peres and members of the international Jewish media who were present:
“Shimon Peres may be 91 years old but his sharpness of mind and willingness to answer any and all questions would belie his actual age. Once Peres was introduced, Horovitz’s very first question to him was about Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, who had just recently come out in criticism of the kidnapping of the three boys (who had recently been kidnapped on the West Bank and were subsequently found murdered) when he was in Jedda, Saudi Arabia.
“Horowitz asked Peres to comment on Abbas’s recent comment in Saudi Arabia that ‘Those who kidnapped the three teenagers want to destroy us.’ (The speech was carried live on Palestinian television and other Arabic channels.)
“Peres lavished huge praise on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for showing ‘great courage’ in roundly condemning the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens which, at the time of the summit, was into its second week.
“During his remarks Peres insisted that Abbas has been the best partner for peace that Israel has ever had. I’ve known him for over 20 years…I think he’s a man of his word, I think he’s a man of courage…I think he’s a great leader and we shouldn’t miss the opportunity to continue the peace process with him.’
“Later Peres was asked what he thought was the task of the Jewish media. He replied: ‘It is to criticize us when we are wrong and to help us when we are right.’
“In a funny slip of the tongue, Peres also stated that ‘the human brain is a strange “orgasm” ‘, when he clearly meant to say “organism”. (At least I think so. Who knows what he was really thinking? Read on to find out more about his keen sense of humour.)
“When asked what Israel has to do to lure more Jewish immigrants, Peres stated: ‘Israel truly has to be as attractive as she can because people are looking to escape not only from poor places.’ (The plight of Jews in Europe was a recurrent theme throughout the summit, especially Jews in France.)
“Peres fielded any and all questions deftly for over 30 minutes. While his hearing was obviously not as sharp as it once was – he had to ask Horovtiz to repeat audience members’ questions, he never once attempted to skirt answering any questions although, to be perfectly candid, nothing tough was thrown his way. (If I had been presented the opportunity to ask him a question I would have asked him what more Israel should be doing to achieve peace with the Palestinians.
“While Peres was willing to open himself up to questions, we knew beforehand that Prime Minister Netanyahu never, ever fields questions from the wretched press. A member of the Israeli media told me not to feel bad: ‘It’s not just you members of the foreign media Netanyahu ignores – he never answers questions from the Israeli press either.’ “

As much as Peres has been the object of much deserved praise from sources ranging from as diverse a group of leaders as Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau on the one hand, to Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Abbas on the other, for me the lasting takeaway was his incredibly good sense of humour. A couple of years ago, shortly after Peres had retired as president, he appeared in a brilliantly satirical video  titled “Shimon Peres goes job hunting”. In the video Peres finds himself looking for new work, but not until he finishes clearing off his presidential desk, on which sits a copy of a book titled “Presidency for Dummies!”

During the course of the video Peres tries working as a gas station jockey, security guard, store cashier, pizza delivery man, stand up comic, and a parachutist instructor. His willingness to parody himself throughout is unbelievable for someone of his stature. I would say that, more than any of the tributes that have been pouring out in recognition of his greatness, this video tells us more about the man than any of those fine speeches. Watch it on our website  at http://jewishpostandnews.ca/categories-media/72-israel-specific/163-former-israeli-president-shimon-peres-goes-job-hunting.

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Israel

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 https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.

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Israel

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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Israel

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 https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333

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