Connect with us


Ahead of conference, Jewish federations defend invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu — but sympathize with protesters



(JTA) — The umbrella group for Jewish federations defended its decision to invite Benjamin Netanyahu to its conference in Tel Aviv next week, while praising the protesters who want the Israeli prime minister to be snubbed. 

The conference, called the General Assembly and beginning on Sunday night, has historically been the signature gathering of the American Jewish establishment. Last week, a group of expatriate Israelis who oppose Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul called on the Jewish Federations of North America to withdraw his invitation to address the conference.

The protest group, UneXeptable, organizes demonstrations against the overhaul, which would sap the country’s Supreme Court of much of its power and independence. The protest group is also calling on the federations to uninvite lawmaker Simcha Rothman, one of the architects of the judicial legislation, which has been suspended until early May in the face of massive street protests.

But the federations stood by their decision. In addition to Netanyahu and Rothman, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid will address the conference. So will Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who has criticized the judicial overhaul push and is now leading negotiations to formulate a compromise on the legislation.

“Some have even called for the Jewish Federations of North America to withdraw their invitation. We respectfully disagree,” read the statement by Julie Platt, the federations’ chairwoman, and Eric Fingerhut, the CEO. “First and foremost, the opportunity to hear from Israel’s duly elected president and prime minister is a symbol of Israel’s achievement as a modern democratic state. We look forward to welcoming these officials on this historic occasion.”

The fact that the federations justified the invitations at all is itself remarkable. Israel’s leaders have historically been guests of honor at federation conferences, and reserving speaking slots for them has been a matter of course. A protest against Netanyahu at the federations’ General Assembly in 2010, by the pro-Palestinian group Jewish Voice for Peace, was shut down and ridiculed by federation leadership. 

And the Tel Aviv gathering, coming just six months after the federations’ last General Assembly and expected to draw 3,000 attendees, is specifically intended to celebrate Israel’s milestone 75th birthday. 

In its appeal to disinvite Netanyahu and Rothman, sent last week, UnXeptable noted the breadth of the proposed changes to the judiciary and warned that both officials would use the conference stage as a platform to defend the overhaul. Street protests have continued despite the negotiations.

“PM Netanyahu and MK Rothman should not be allowed to use the 2023 JFNA General Assembly as a platform to incite against those who defend democracy or in order to parade false unity and pseudo-shared values,” the UnXeptable letter said. “Our communal stage should not be used to legitimize or further advance the attacks on Israel’s democracy or on those fighting to defend it.”

Even as the federations’ statement defended the invitations — an earlier published draft vowed that “any individuals holding these positions” would be welcome at the event — it also praised the protesters’ aims and methods. The statement opened by acknowledging that the protesters “care deeply and sincerely about the future of Israel.”

The statement noted that the federations came out against a central component of the judicial overhaul, and that the group’s leadership traveled to Israel to lobby the government on the issue. And it assured protesters that, if they do show up to the event, the federations “will do everything we can to ensure that our attendees and security professionals respect these protesters, and expect that any protestors will respect our participants by demonstrating in a way that does not disrupt their ability to attend the event, participate, or listen to the speakers.”

“We have also been awed by the powerful statement Israel’s citizens have made exercising their democratic right to protest,” the statement said. “Given the immense importance of this debate and its implications for Jews all around the world, we understand that some will choose to exercise that right at the General Assembly.”

UnXeptable founder Offir Gutelzon, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, said he sympathized with the federations’ sense that it must welcome Israeli leaders, whatever their views, but he pleaded with the organization not to let Netanyahu speak unchallenged.

“I’m happy that the JFNA was responsive to our letter,” he said in an interview. “We are still asking the JFNA to consider, even if not disinviting — consider about making it a panel, making it with questions and answers, making sure that this is not just a one-way announcement by the prime minister.”

The post Ahead of conference, Jewish federations defend invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu — but sympathize with protesters appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





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.

Continue Reading

Local News

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.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

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.)

Continue Reading


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.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News