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As European nations celebrate their past, a US Holocaust envoy reminds them of its darker corners

WASHINGTON (JTA) — At a time when some European nations are seeking to revise their Holocaust histories to emphasize victimhood, a senior Biden administration official says the United States should keep reminding them of the dark corners of their past. 

Ellen Germain, the State Department’s special envoy on Holocaust issues, said she has spent a lot of time recently engaging with leaders of countries who are seeking to venerate heroes who resisted Soviet oppression. The problem is that many of those figures also worked with the Nazis to persecute Jews. 

Speaking to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency this week, Germain framed her job as ensuring that countries take the totality of that history into account. She has repeatedly made the case for removing or at least modifying plaques, statues and other memorials to people who collaborated with the Nazis.

“I understand why they’re being glorified as national heroes after World War II, but you can’t just erase what they did during the war,” Germain told JTA.

Germain’s office was established in 1999, and she has served in the role since August 2021. The envoy’s role is to persuade countries to give financial restitution to families of Jews who were murdered and exiled during the Holocaust. In the late 1990s, many countries were still coming to terms with their long-overlooked obligations toward Jewish communities that had been persecuted and wiped out. Stuart Eizenstat, the U.S. deputy treasury secretary at the time, pressed the Clinton administration to create the position to show U.S. commitment to seeking restitution.

Since 2017, the office has written reports on how countries are implementing the Terezin Declaration, a 2009 agreement between 47 countries to pay restitution to survivors. The office also works closely with the World Jewish Restitution Organization to push countries to pass laws facilitating restitution. And it works with the State Department’s antisemitism monitor to track antisemitism and campaign against it, to promote education about the Holocaust, to preserve Holocaust-era archives and to organize Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations.

Germain, a career diplomat who has served in multiple posts in Europe, the Middle East and the United Nations, said most countries now have advanced restitution mechanisms, lessening the need for U.S. pressure. She added that some countries, including Poland and Croatia, still need to pass legislation to that effect. 

Her focus more recently has been on pressing countries to more openly and honestly confront their roles in the Holocaust, a job complicated by states’ natural tendency to create heroic national myths. She would like to see monuments to perpetrators of atrocities removed, or at least modified.

More broadly, a resurgence of the far right has worried Jewish groups and the Biden administration. Poland has passed laws criminalizing accusations that some Poles collaborated with the Nazis, and others restricting restitution. Hungary’s approach to its role in the Holocaust has long been a matter of debate between the government and Jewish community. Far-right parties have made gains in recent elections in Austria, Germany and France, among other countries. Neo-Nazi marches also still make headlines across the continent.

“You get a certain amount of what we call revisionism or rehabilitation, like rehabilitation or glorification of people who are considered national heroes because they fought the communists,” she said. “They fought the Soviets after World War II, but they also participated in acts of Nazi genocide. During World War Two, they collaborated — sometimes they were directly involved in deportations or mass killings. There are figures like that in Lithuania, Ukraine, in Croatia, you’ve got street names named after some of them.”

Germain named Juozas Krikštaponis and Jonas Noreika in Lithuania; Roman Shukhevych in Ukraine; and Miklos Horthy in Hungary as examples of people memorialized for their anti-Soviet campaigns who also collaborated with the Nazis. 

Germain has been having conversations about the resurgence of such memorialization in her travels. How receptive her interlocutors are, she said, depends on the country. Late last year, she traveled to Lithuania and Hungary, and in Germany she addressed a course on the Holocaust for diplomatic and security professionals from across Europe. In January, she accompanied Douglas Emhoff, the Jewish second gentleman, on his heritage tour of Poland and Germany.

Lithuanian officials were receptive to her efforts to get them to grapple with their Holocaust history, she said.

“I was really, really pleasantly surprised and impressed by how open everyone was in Lithuania to the discussion of this,” she said. “Everyone from the government to academics to journalists. “I did a panel event there that live-streamed and had 20,000 viewers, and the questions and comments just from the people in the audience about this — they were just much more open to saying, ‘Yeah, you know, we realized this is a problem and we need to figure out how to deal with it.’”

The Hungarians, by contrast, appeared wary. Hungarian officials have sought to equate the Holocaust with Soviet-era repression and revive the reputations of figures like Horthy. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has unsettled many in the West with his hard-right turn and rhetoric that, at times, appears to cross over into racism and antisemitism.

“Hungary is a more difficult question,” she said. ”I didn’t find the same level of openness. But I did find a willingness to at least talk to me about it.”

She did not mention the opposite democratic trajectories of both countries: Lithuania, along with Estonia and Latvia, have eagerly turned toward Europe and the United States in recent years, particularly as the Russian threat looms directly across the border. Hungary, by contrast, has become more insular and hyper-nationalist.

Germain said she takes a nuanced approach to making the case for confronting the past. Some of the people she wants to see made accountable for their crimes were genuinely at the forefront of their countries’ struggles against the Soviets.

“They don’t have to be written out of history, and in fact, they shouldn’t be because people need to know what they did,  both good and bad,” she said. “But the point is, make the history more nuanced and teach the citizens of these countries what the full story is, and if there are statues and memorials to some of these guys… either take it down or add some context to it.” 

She cited “a plaque to Jonas Noreika on the National Library in Vilnius, in Lithuania, that just says that he was a great man.” Noreika was a high-ranking police officer who is believed to have personally overseen the murder of Jews. He is venerated in Lithuania as a hero for fighting the Soviet Union alongside the Germans.

Germain said understands the impulse to seek heroes to forge a national identity after the Soviets sought to negate the histories of the countries they dominated  — and especially in the face of a resurgent imperialist Russia that has invaded Ukraine.

“I think it took a while for them to start sorting out their history,” she said.  “And so, sometimes, there’s only in the last five or 10 years been real attention paid to the fact that some of these figures might not be as 100% heroic as they were initially thought to be.”

The post As European nations celebrate their past, a US Holocaust envoy reminds them of its darker corners 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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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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