(JTA) — Like hundreds of thousands of her fellow Israelis, Kelly Breakstone Roth’s instinct on Sunday was to take to the streets.
The only wrinkle: She and her family have been in Brooklyn for the last two years, part of the diaspora of hundreds of thousands of Israelis living abroad. They couldn’t just walk out the door of their apartment and join the sweeping nationwide protest that ignited after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister, who had called for a pause on proposed changes to Israel’s judiciary.
So they bought one-way plane tickets, set to take off at 2 a.m. on Monday and land in Israel that evening. “It was a very spontaneous decision,” Breakstone Roth, an entrepreneur, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Sunday evening, as she ran errands to prepare her family of five for a trip of indeterminate length. “But the sensation that we have to be there has been building up for quite a bit now.”
She likened the experience to that of Israeli military reservists who receive an emergency call-up notice, known in Israeli jargon as a “tzav shmoneh,” Hebrew for “order eight.”
“This is a tzav shmoneh moment for anybody who wants there to be a Jewish and democratic state,” she said.
By the time Breakstone Roth landed in Tel Aviv Monday evening, conditions in Israel had shifted dramatically. Late-night protests on Sunday that shut down a main highway and riveted Jews the world over had been dispersed, but protesters convened again on Monday in Jerusalem, where the parliament was waiting to hear whether it would vote on a key piece of the judiciary legislation. The country’s labor unions had called a general strike, and everything from universities to McDonald’s franchises to some departures at the Tel Aviv airport had shut down.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu had spent Sunday night negotiating with his coalition partners, trying to keep their government together despite a mounting sense that proceeding immediately with its signature legislation could plunge Israel into unprecedented turmoil — possibly even civil war. By the evening, even the justice minister who threatened to quit if Netanyahu delayed the vote said he would respect a decision to pause — one that Netanyahu made official only as night fell.
Netanyahu did not say what he had promised his partners to sign off on the pause, but a far-right minister said he had exacted permission to launch a civilian police corps.
Earlier, breaking his public silence, the prime minister had tweeted, “I call on all the demonstrators in Jerusalem, on the right and the left, to behave responsibly and not to act violently. We are brotherly people.”
Big questions loomed: What would happen when right-wing supporters of the judiciary reform — including a notoriously racist and combative group of fans from the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club — heeded a call to take to the streets, too? Would a delay satisfy protesters who have spent a dozen weeks articulating deep-seated grievances that, in many cases, go far beyond the particular reforms? Would Netanyahu and his coalition offer any meaningful concessions before resuming the legislative process in the future? What would be the cost of the promises he offered his most extreme partners in exchange for their acquiescence?
The answers to those questions will help determine what kind of country Israel will be after this crisis ends, whenever that is. But on Sunday night and Monday, the protesters and those watching them could be forgiven for taking a moment to bask in the sense that history was being made.
“What we witness in Israel is a historical revolution in the style of French, Russian, Iranian revolutions and the collapse of the Soviet Union,” tweeted Yossi Melman, a journalist who has covered military affairs for multiple Israeli newspapers.
“A historic night. Each of us will remember where we were tonight,” tweeted the journalist and political analyst Anshel Pfeffer. “And whoever was not in the streets will say that they were.”
The head of the country’s labor union, the Histadrut, also used the word “historic” to describe the general strike he was supporting.
Ahmad Tibi, an Arab lawmaker, tweeted in language drenched in history. He posted in Hebrew transliteration a slogan associated with the 2011 Arab Spring: “The people want to bring down the regime.”
It’s not at all clear that the Israelis who protested on Sunday and Monday will ultimately be satisfied. Revolutions don’t always succeed, as the Arab Spring and countless other examples in history make clear. Many of the social and demographic forces that brought Israel to this moment haven’t changed. Netanyahu has survived political crisis after political crisis before.
In addition, while a substantial majority of Israelis oppose the specific judicial reform legislation that is on the table now, many still say they believe some changes are merited. Israel’s far right, in particular, still views a disempowered Supreme Court as essential to achieving its vision of expanded Jewish settlement and control in the West Bank.
Supporters of the judicial overhaul were framing the stakes as historic, too, but casting the demonstrations as a threat to democracy. It is “inconceivable that the minority will force its opinion with violence and the creation of anarchy in the streets,” declared 17 leading religious Zionist rabbis in a joint statement calling on the government to push forward with the legislation on Monday.
Yet for Monday, at least, the politically diverse anti-government coalition that has solidified over the last three months could exult in the power of the people. And at a time when some liberal Israelis are so alarmed by the country’s political direction that they are packing up and moving away, the Breakstone Roths were coming home.
“This is a critical time in Israel’s history,” Breakstone Roth said before boarding. “In terms of our daughters, we felt it was really important for them to know that we’re doing everything that we possibly can to try to make an impact.”
She said she hoped to hear upon landing that Netanyahu was pulling the legislation, if only temporarily — then turned to realpolitik. “Hopefully If he does say it, he intends it, and … we’ll be able to say that the demonstrations were a success,” she said. “And if he’s just fooling, trying to do some sort of maneuver, then it’s going to be ignited once again.”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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