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As Israel reels from violent attack on Palestinians, settler leadership remains unapologetic



JERUSALEM (JTA) – Despite resounding condemnation from across the world and efforts by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the outbreak of Jewish violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, settler leaders remain defiant and are backing members of their community involved in what has been described as the one of the worst events of Jewish mass rioting against Palestinians.

“In no way whatsoever do I condemn them,” veteran settler activist Daniella Weiss told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“The shocking thing is that the government is unable to provide security to residents. This is very grave. I am not surprised that there was such an outburst,” said Weiss, a former mayor of the Kedumim West Bank settlement. “The pressure kept building up and the murder of the two brothers influenced people, as did the [recent] murder of two brothers in Jerusalem.”

The settlers’ attack centered on the Palestinian village of Hawara near Nablus, hours after a Palestinian gunman killed two young residents of the nearby Har Bracha settlement, Hillel Yaniv and his brother Yagel, 21 and 19. Hillel had just concluded his military service in a special program for yeshiva students and Yagel was due to finish a Magen David Adom emergency training course next week.

Following the terror attack, hundreds of settlers gathered to seek revenge from the neighboring village, unleashing their rage at residents who were not involved in the attack on the Yaniv family. They set alight 11 houses, damaged many others and burned 32 cars, according to initial data from the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

One settler said in a video clip from the scene as the rampage was underway that it was “a very moving experience.” With flames rising in the background, the settler, identified only as Rafael, added that the settlers “are torching everything that comes to hand.” In another video that was shared widely by critics of the settlers, a group of settlers is seen praying outside a Palestinian home on fire.

Settlers taking a break from carrying out a pogrom in Huwara to daven maariv (evening prayer).

— Benzion Sanders (@BenzionSanders) February 26, 2023

A large number of settlers also proceeded to Burin village, where they were “escorted” by soldiers, Burin resident Munir Qadoos told JTA. The settlers broke windows, slaughtered two sheep and stole others, burned a barn and pelted homes with stones, he said.

“I felt that it was going to be my last day alive,” Qadoos said. ”Settlers have attacked us many times, but never have they gone so far into the village.”

Human rights organizations have documented a steady increase in settler violence directed at Palestinians in recent years, citing hundreds of cases of vandalism, harassment of Palestinians working their fields or harvesting olive trees and nightly raids into West Bank villages. Settler leaders have disputed these claims, noting that most claims were dismissed by the Israeli police. They have also argued that only a small group of extremists, mostly teenagers, are responsible for these violent attacks.

Qadoos said that on Sunday night, rather than stop the settlers, IDF soldiers “fired tear gas at residents who were trying to defend themselves.” Two people were transferred to the hospital after being struck by stones and five treated locally, he said. “Everyone in the neighborhood is afraid but they also say we will not be moved from here. As I see it, things will get even worse.”

The army did not respond to a request for its account of what transpired in Burin.

By Monday morning, as the extent of the damage became apparent, Israelis began to grapple with the consequences of the attack, described by some in the media as a “pogrom,” and whether it was an ominous sign of authorities losing control over Jewish extremists in the West Bank.

Palestinian Authority officials said about 400 settlers joined the attacks. Eight Israelis were detained but all had been released by Tuesday morning.

The violence marks a significant “escalation” because of the large numbers of settlers involved and the sense that they have backers in the government, foremost Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich and Jewish Power leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, said Menachem Klein, professor emeritus of political science at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

Klein predicted there would be further such attacks. ”The radical settlers see they are kings with Ben-Gvir and Smotrich in power,” he said. “We will see more of these because they are built into the power balance.”

It was a test for Netanyahu’s two-month old government, made up of the center-right Likud in partnership with Smotrich and Ben-Gvir’s far-right parties.

“There is no place for anarchy. We will not accept deliberate harm to innocent civilians,” Netanyahu told the Knesset on Monday. But his coalition partners, who are aligned with the settlers and have supported their actions, did not all share this sentiment. Smotrich, who serves as finance minister but also holds the portfolio of settler affairs in the defense ministry, endorsed the idea of harsh vengeance in the immediate aftermath of the killing of the settlers, liking a tweet by a settler leader, Davidi Ben-Zion, that called for “erasing Hawara today” and for “no mercy.”

Palestinian health officials said that settlers also attacked Sunday night other nearby villages and that a 37-year-old man was killed by Israeli gunfire in Zaatara, two others were shot and wounded, a third stabbed and a fourth beaten with an iron bar. Ninety-five other Palestinians were treated for tear gas inhalation.

The umbrella group for settlers, the Yesha Council, remained silent about the violence, offering no response to a query by JTA. The council serves as the political arm representing more than 500,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank (but not in East Jerusalem and the surrounding neighborhoods, where another 375,000 Jewish Israelis reside). The council does not control individual settlements, which range in their political views from more moderate towns such as those in Ariel and in the Gush Etzion and Ariel region, and the smaller settlements and outposts considered to be home to extremists.

Settler leader Daniella Weiss speaks during a protest for the return to the Evyatar outspot, near the West Bank city of Nablus, Feb. 18, 2022.(Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

By Sunday night, Smotrich changed tack, saying, “It is forbidden to take the law into one’s own hands and create a dangerous anarchy which could cost lives.”

But Ziv Stahl, director of Yesh Din, a human rights group which promotes legal action against violent Jewish settlers, claims that Smotrich’s action on social media was highly significant and could be interpreted by settlers as showing the spirit that should guide their actions.

“Even though it’s not an official policy to be violent towards Palestinians, if Ben-Gvir is in charge of police and enforcement against settler violence and Smotrich is in charge of illegal construction, you can do the math of what message the settlers get from that.”

Weiss indicated she had no misgivings that the 37-year-old Palestinian, identified as Sameh Akatsh, who had just returned from participating in an earthquake relief mission in Turkey, had died. “If he was killed, he was killed,” she said.

The post As Israel reels from violent attack on Palestinians, settler leadership remains unapologetic 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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