BERLIN (JTA) — Just days before news of a planned far-right terrorist plot to overthrow Germany’ government has stoked fears about the rise of extremism here, government officials approved Germany’s first-ever program specifically designed to fight antisemitism and promote Jewish life.
Approved last Thursday by the entire German Cabinet and presented in Berlin by Felix Klein, Germany’s commissioner on antisemitism, the National Strategy against Anti-Semitism and for Jewish Life highlights best practices and recommends new actions to be taken on political and societal levels.
The plot foiled on Wednesday was organized by a group inspired by QAnon conspiracy theories and far-right ideology espoused by parties growing in influence across Europe — including the AfD in Germany. At least 25 people, including a former parliamentarian and former members of German special military forces, were arrested in approximately 130 raids, CBS News reported. The group, comprised of a widespread underground network, aimed to attack the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament.
A rise in the number of neo-Nazis and other extremists in the German military have alarmed officials in recent years. Far-right extremists have been involved in multiple terror attacks, including on a synagogue in Halle in 2019. Federal data showed a significant uptick in antisemitic crimes across the country from 2020 to 2021, but a report this week from the RIAS watchdog group showed that antisemitic incidents in Berlin in the first half of this year dropped to 450 from a total of 574 in the same period last year.
The German government’s new strategy identifies five fields of action: data collection, research and accurate assessment of antisemitism; education as prevention; new approaches to Holocaust remembrance; increasing security; and making current and past Jewish life in Germany visible. The 52-page plan is an answer to the European Union’s 2021 call to action, in which member states were urged to submit national strategies to combat antisemitism by the end of 2022.
Germany’s top Jewish leader welcomed the proposal.
“The emphasis on the perspective of those affected is an important sign at the right time for the Jewish community in Germany,” Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement. “Especially the antisemitic incidents at the Documenta and the way they were dealt with have shown in a blatant way how Jewish voices are ignored,” he said, referring to controversial works presented at this year’s international art fair, in Kassel.
This is not the first time that Germany has doubled down its efforts to fight antisemitism. Past initiatives have included pro-democracy education, outreach to people who have left extremist groups, projects designed to introduce Jews and Jewish diversity to the non-Jewish public, laws introduced to bar new forms of anti-Jewish expression, and more. Before the anniversary of Kristallnacht this year, the government distributed posters challenging a series of tropes, including comparisons between Israel and the Nazis.
Klein said the new plan aims to bundle and improve existing measures, identify gaps and create “optimal conditions for preventing and combating hatred of Jews.” He referred specifically to antisemitism linked to hatred of Israel, which he said is growing in intellectual and academic milieus. The German Bundestag formally endorsed the working definition of antisemitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Association, which includes certain forms of Israel criticism, in 2017.
Klein was joined at a presentation of the plan by his colleague on the European Union level: the EU Commissioner for Combating Antisemitism and Promoting Jewish Life, Katharina von Schnurbein, also of Germany, called the strategy “a milestone for Germany” that could “provide important impetus internationally.”
The plan was two years in the making, involving input from all federal ministries and more than 40 forty Jewish and non-Jewish civil society organizations.
Schuster lauded the strategy for taking up practical issues faced by Jews today, including poverty among Jewish immigrants and antisemitism in schools. It addresses the fact that some schools still schedule exams without consideration for the Jewish calendar — an example of what he said could be called “invisibility.”
“The stated commitment to reconcile exam dates with Jewish holidays is a positive signal that should be implemented promptly,” Schuster said.
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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