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‘A battle of Jews against Jews’? Arab Israelis debate whether and how to join Israel’s democracy protests

TAYIBE, Israel (JTA) — Prominent figures among Israel’s Arab minority are calling on its members to join the mass protests against the Netanyahu government’s judicial overhaul plan, arguing that Arabs will be the first victims of any weakening of the Supreme Court.

“If the government succeeds it will make our chances for equality and a just peace more remote,” said Suheil Diab, former deputy mayor of Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city, and one of the organizers of a nonpartisan push to get Arabs to demonstrate alongside their Jewish counterparts.

“If we don’t repel the attack on the judiciary, we can’t go forward with our agenda,” Diab went on. “I want Arabs to participate and to know that participating is in their interest.”

The proposed reforms would give the Knesset — now controlled by a right-wing coalition — the power to override Israel’s Supreme Court, in a move that proponents say is needed because, in their view, the court has grown too liberal and out of step with popular sentiment. Leaders of some of the parties in the coalition have called for curbing rights of LGBTQ Israelis, non-Orthodox Jews and Arab Israelis. At least one of them has openly suggested that Arab citizens who are “disloyal” should be deported.

Diab and other Arab leaders fear that without the protection of the Supreme Court, the Arab minority might face measures limiting funding, access to jobs and opportunities and even their political representation. Even expulsion feels like a realistic concern given the far-right influence in the government, he said.

”We need to convince a distinct share of the Jewish majority that both of us are threatened,” Diab told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “The only way is a shared Jewish-Arab struggle.”

But while massive protests including tech entrepreneurs, army reservists, academics and others have shown the extent of determination among Jews to stop the government’s bid to legislate what it terms “judicial reform,” Arab Israelis, who make up one-fifth of the population, have hardly turned out.

This dynamic has been true in the Knesset as well as in the streets. Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Arab Ra’am Party, has said he opposes the changes, but when he was invited to participate in a press conference with other leaders of the political opposition, he declined.

Palestinian flags were seen at some of the early pro-democracy protests in Israel, such as at this one in Tel Aviv Jan. 14, 2023, but have appeared less frequently since. (Gili Yaari/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A push to get Arabs to participate in the protests began Friday with publication of a petition calling for public activism, inked by more than 200 Arab personalities, including retired judges. A gathering here on Saturday sought to work through thorny questions about what Arab participation might look like, and what demands it might make.

Getting Israeli Arabs to the protests that have become a recurring feature of life in cities across Israel every Saturday night won’t necessarily be easy. The push is likely to run up against perceived disenfranchisement on the part of Arab Israelis, whose political parties have rarely been part of governing coalitions and whose participation in electoral politics has been portrayed in the past as illegitimate by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies.

Another likely obstacle is a narrow focus for the protest organizers, almost all Jewish.

In the first weeks of the protests in January, Palestinian flags raised by protesters drew criticism from right-wing and pro-government pundits. National Security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called for a ban on the flag in public and warned that those waving Palestinian flags in future demonstrations would be arrested. Fewer Palestinian flags were seen in the following weeks, and issues relating to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank or to the new government’s attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were all but dropped from the agenda. An Israeli activist who asked to carry a Palestinian flag while speaking was declined.

The organizers do not seem interested thus far in broadening the agenda, and only a few Arab speakers have been featured in the demonstrations. Just hours after the Tayibe meeting on Saturday, Reem Hazzan, a leader of the predominantly Arab Hadash party in Haifa, was told by organizers who reviewed a copy of her planned speech to make changes to it. She refused and there was no Arab speaker.

Haaretz quoted unidentified organizers as saying the problem was that Hazzan refused to call in her speech for the Arab public to turn out for the protests. But Hazzan, in remarks to JTA, said  she sees a deeper problem.

“We want to change the rules of the game, not just preserve what exists. What exists is not good,” she said. “We need to speak about the occupation and about discrimination. If you want Arabs to participate you must take into account that Arabs have an agenda.”

Exactly what that agenda should be was under debate during the gathering in Tayibe, a sprawling town in central Israel that like many Arab municipalities suffers from spiraling crime and violence.

“People say it’s a battle of Jews against Jews; others say they don’t want us there so why should we go and others point to times when the court sided against us,” said Mohammed Ali Taha, 82, former head of the Arab Writers Association, who spoke at the Tayibe gathering.

Arab Israelis cast their vote at a voting station in Tayibe, Nov. 1, 2022. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

“It’s all true,” he continued. “But still we must join the protests because we will be the primary losers. When the far right rises, it strikes against the weak. We are the weak.”

With no constitution, Israel lacks any explicit guarantee of equality for all its citizens. Some laws, including those ensuring the right for immigration, advantage Jews. To the extent that Arabs have been able to challenge discrimination in recent decades, it has been largely through the Supreme Court inferring equality on them based on liberal legislation such as the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, passed in 1992, which specifies, “Every human being is entitled to protection of his life, body and dignity.” Critics of the proposed reforms warn that they could result in the rollback of that basic law.

The court has also at times ruled against Arab Israeli interests, such as when it refused to consider petitions against the 2018 Nation State Law, which enshrines Jewish settlement as a national value, declares that national self-determination in the state of Israel  is “unique to the Jewish people” and demotes Arabic from an official language.

Tayibe’s deputy mayor, Malik Azzem, said that despite its mixed record, an independent Supreme Court is essential for Israeli Arabs.

“The High Court is our last defense for our rights as a minority,” he said. “The struggle for our rights is not separate from this struggle. We need to mobilize the public.”

He added that as an elected official, he fears that without the court’s oversight, the government would simply cut the budgets of Arab municipalities.

”People need to raise their voices and join,” Azzem said. “We should be at the center of the demonstrations. We are already late in dealing with this.”

Taha, the writer, whose works often focus on the Nakba, an Arabic term meaning catastrophe that is used to describe the plight of Palestinians after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence and which he lived through as a child, told the gathering: ”Without Jewish-Arab cooperation we cannot achieve anything. This is an opportunity for cooperation.”

He said he believes Arab Israelis are today more vulnerable than they have been at any time since the period that they lived under military rule, from 1948 to 1966. At that time they were so restricted that they could not travel within Israel without permits. The danger today, he says, is due to the clout of far-right ministers Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who have expressed anti-Arab views and, in Ben-Gvir’s case, even called for the expulsion of “disloyal” citizens.

“If they succeed it will be worse for us than military rule was,” Taha said. To avert this, he argued, Arabs need to join the protests alongside Jews even if it means not raising Palestinian flags.

”It’s not the time and place for a protest about a Palestinian state,” he said. “This could cause conflict among the protesters.”

But to others, the idea of protesting without highlighting the need to end both the occupation and inequality is akin to denying one’s very identity.

“I’m against participating in any demonstration that is embarrassed to talk about context and the occupation. I support something broader,” said Sondos Saleh, a former member of Knesset for the Arab Ta’al party.

Sondos Saleh, an Arab Israeli politician then on the Joint List Party candidate list, speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Feb. 23, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Merav Ben-Ari, a legislator for the largest opposition party, Yesh Atid, told JTA she would welcome greater Arab participation in the protests. ”Anything that strengthens the protests is excellent,” she said.

But she showed little enthusiasm for talking about many of the topics that animate Israeli Arabs in the political sphere, including the core one that liberal critics of the protest movement say is being given short shrift.

“How is the occupation connected?” Ben-Ari asked. “What is needed is to talk about the reform. Everyone who loves the country and cares about it has to fight against the reform and the harm to the Supreme Court.”


The post ‘A battle of Jews against Jews’? Arab Israelis debate whether and how to join Israel’s democracy protests appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

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The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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