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Asaf Zamir, Israel’s top diplomat in NY, summoned to Jerusalem after implicitly criticizing judicial overhaul



(JTA) — Since December, Israel’s top diplomat in New York has found himself in an odd-couple relationship with the government he represents. Now, that relationship looks like it may be on the rocks after he criticized his government’s signature legislation.

Asaf Zamir, Israel’s consul general in New York, was appointed to the position in 2021 by the short-lived centrist government that had unseated longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Zamir was a former deputy mayor of the liberal city of Tel Aviv, and had previously served briefly under Netanyahu as tourism minister — before resigning in protest.

But when Netanyahu returned to power at the end of last year, leading a coalition with far-right partners, Zamir stayed in his position in New York — long thought of as a coveted seat in Israel’s foreign service. He kept serving even as other senior diplomats — such as Israel’s ambassadors to France and Canada — resigned rather than represent Netanyahu again.

Now, Zamir has clashed with Netanyahu and is heading back to Jerusalem to explain himself. The order to fly home to clarify his remarks, given by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, came after Zamir implicitly criticized Netanyahu’s planned overhaul of the country’s judiciary, which would sap the Israeli Supreme Court of much of its power and independence.

“Right now, we’re in a very dramatic period,” he said in remarks to a gala dinner in New York City on Thursday night hosted by Anu, the Museum of the Jewish People, which is located in Tel Aviv. His statement was first reported by Barak Ravid, a reporter for Israel’s Walla News and the U.S. outlet Axios.

Zamir, who was appointed to a three-year term, said being a diplomat sometimes means defending policies one doesn’t agree with but continued, “That’s not the point in the last few weeks.”

“I’m deeply concerned in the direction the country is going in right now,” he said. “If we want to have a national home and we want it to be everyone’s home, it really must be democratic.”

Zamir was alluding to the fears of an expansive range of critics — including hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have taken to the streets in frequent protests — that the judicial overhaul would threaten Israeli democracy. The legislation, which is currently advancing through Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, would allow a bare majority of parliament to override court decisions and would give the governing coalition full control over Supreme Court appointments. Its defenders say it will allow the government to enact the wishes of Israel’s right-wing majority.

Zamir isn’t the first diplomat to fret over the legislation. Last week, Simon Seroussi, the spokesman of the Israeli embassy in Paris, warned in a leaked cable that “in recent weeks, we have identified a worrying trend of French journalists, editors, academics, and commentators who are known as pro-Israel speaking critically, even very critically, about Israel” due to the legislation as well as violence by Israeli settlers, according to the Times of Israel.

Seroussi’s cable came ahead of a visit by Israel’s far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, who said in a private speech in Paris on Sunday night that “There’s no such thing as the Palestinian people.” according to Israeli reports.

Israeli actor and producer Noa Tishby, who was appointed last year as an unpaid envoy for Israel, has also criticized the court legislation. The government is considering cutting ties with Tishby as a result, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

Zamir’s wife, actress Maya Wertheimer, delivered her own implicit criticism of the legislation on Sunday during an appearance at the kickoff gala of Tel Aviv Fashion Week. She walked in a show that featured Ivri Lider, an Israeli singer, who was wearing a blue dress bearing the seal of the state of Israel, along with a gold crown. Stenciled on his chest were the words “free in our land,” a quote from the Israeli national anthem.

Lider wrote on Instagram that his outfit, designed by Aviad Arik Herman, was called “Dress of Democracy” and said the crown was made of gavels representing “the importance of the judicial system.” Wertheimer carried an oversized passport and plane ticket during her appearance in the show, which also featured Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and the former head of the left-wing Meretz Party, Zehava Galon, wearing a dress emblazoned with the faces of Israeli women in politics.

The post Asaf Zamir, Israel’s top diplomat in NY, summoned to Jerusalem after implicitly criticizing judicial overhaul 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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