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An NYU student wrote ‘F–k Israel’ on a piece of trash. Is that antisemitism or freedom of speech?



(New York Jewish Week) — New York University is investigating a graduate student working at the school library who wrote “Free Palestine” and a profanity on an Israeli mail bag left in the trash. 

The university accused Naye Idriss in November 2022 of alleged antisemitism and vandalism, according to her attorney. Idriss was informed that she was being investigated for allegedly violating the non-discrimination policy in the student conduct code.  

Dylan Saba, who is representing the student through Palestine Legal, a civil rights group, also said that the university sent an email to library staff saying that there was “an anti-Israel incident.” Another email stated that there was “an alleged antisemitism incident.” 

In December, Idriss, who was one of three Arabic language students working at the library, was not rehired with her peers.  

Photographs show a bag bearing the logo of Israel’s postal service, with the word “F–k” written next to the word Israel and “Free Palestine” scrawled on the side. The bag appears to have been shipped from an Israeli vendor in July 2022 before being tossed in a recycling bin.  

The incident was first reported by the online news publication Electronic Intifada on Monday.  

Idriss did not respond to a request for a comment, but NYU spokesperson John Beckman confirmed to the New York Jewish Week that the university is looking into the incident.  

Beyond acknowledging that there was an incident that involved the writing of profanity in the library, and that various appropriate NYU offices have looked into the matter and responded to it, I cannot elaborate because it is NYU’s practice not to comment on the specifics of individual employee or student matters,” Beckman said. 

NYU had initially classified the investigation as a student conduct issue, which would not have entitled Idriss to union representation. Because the incident occurred at work, Idriss has the right to have a union representative present in any workplace disciplinary proceeding, Saba told the Electronic Intifada. After the union intervened, the investigation led to a hearing with NYU’s human resources department.  

#StudentSpotlight Naye Idriss was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon and graduated from @Columbia with a BA in Anthropology and Comparative Literature and Society in May 2020.

— NYU Kevorkian Center (@nyukevo) November 23, 2021

“They have not dismissed the antisemitism charge,” Saba said. “They just haven’t moved forward with it.” 

He added in written statement to the New York Jewish Week: This is very clearly an example of repression from NYU in response to continuous pressure from outside Zionist organizations to silence pro-Palestinian political speech.”  

Tova Benjamin, a steward and organizer with the Union for Graduate Workers at NYU, also confirmed to the New York Jewish that the union has been representing Idriss during NYU’s investigation, but would not comment any further. 

Saba told the New York Jewish Week that the proceeding “has been on pause while the HR process proceeds to a resolution.”

On Monday, the aggressive watchdog group Stop Antisemitism tweeted Idriss’ face and details about her education and place of birth to over 60,000 followers online.  

“I hope she gets suspended,”one person commented.  

“Throw her azz in jail,” another wrote.

NYU’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Life, the campus Hillel, declined to comment.  

Jewish groups have complained in the recent past about incidents at NYU they call antisemitic. In 2020, following complaints that NYU hadn’t done enough to prevent “a hostile environment” for Jews on the campus, the U.S. Education Department and NYU reached an agreement under which the university agreed to “bolster our longstanding commitment to opposing and responding to antisemitism,” a university spokesman said at the time.

In April 2022, a pro-Palestinian law student group sent out an email chain saying, among other things, “the Zionist grip on the media is omnipresent.” Like the mailbag incident, the email prompted a debate over what is legitimate and protected criticism of Israel, however harsh, and what constitutes hate speech.

Alex Morey, a lawyer and director of campus rights advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a non-partisan organization that defends free speech on campus, told the New York Jewish Week that this seems to be the first case he’s seen where “a student is using garbage as their medium of expression.” 

“But free speech principles protect all manner of written expression, whether you’re putting your views on a protest sign or a piece of trash,” Morey said.

Morey added that “you can’t vandalize garbage.” 

“Vandalism requires damaging someone else’s property, and garbage, by nature, belongs to no one,” Morey said. “When the student took the bag from the trash, it became hers to use as she saw fit. Reportedly, the bag was in a recycling container. She was, arguably, recycling it.” 

NYU’s student conduct policy says that the campus community “thrives on debate and dissent,” and that “free inquiry, free expression, and free association enhances academic freedom and intellectual engagement.”

“Any student reading this promise should feel confident expressing even the most controversial views in creative ways on campus,” Morey said. 

Still, Morey noted that speech that rises to the level of a threat or discriminatory harassment should be punished, but proving that can have “high legal bars.” 

“Simply holding or expressing an anti-Israel view, whether one defines it as antisemitic or not, doesn’t get close to meeting these standards,” Morey said. “In other words: NYU not only allows but encourages students to express all sorts of controversial views on campus, even if some people deem those views antisemitic.’”

The post An NYU student wrote ‘F–k Israel’ on a piece of trash. Is that antisemitism or freedom of speech? appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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