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At unusual counterprotest, right-wing demonstrators air grievances against Israel’s courts



JERUSALEM (JTA) — After three months of demonstrations dominated by detractors of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan, supporters of the proposed reform took to the streets Monday, making their voice heard in Jerusalem and across Israel.

Gathered outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, thousands of pro-reform protesters, including settlers bused in from the West Bank, sought to back Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin, even as the prime minister announced his intention to temporarily suspend the plan.

“We are trying to create counter-pressure to the demonstrations of the left,” said Yisrael Entman, who lives in the Kokhav HaShahar settlement and was accompanied by his wife and five children.

It was the first major demonstration by supporters of the Netanyahu government’s now-paused legislation to overhaul the country’s judiciary to sap the independence and power of the Supreme Court. Both proponents and critics of the legislation say it would benefit Israel’s right, which largely believes that the courts are out of step with mainstream sentiment. They also share the view that the dispute is not just about how Supreme Court justices are appointed but about what values will prevail in Israel.

“Israel cannot have a liberal approach devoid of Judaism,” Entman said. “If you destroy the Jewish character of Israel we have no justification for being here.”

He and others at the rally offered a laundry list of grievances against the court, including the way it has deployed the 1992 Basic Law on Human Freedom and Dignity, which the court has at times used to combat discrimination against minorities.

Thousands of Israeli right-wing protesters rally in support of Israeli government’s judicial overhaul bills out of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Entman repeated the claim that the court had used the law to prevent the expulsion of African asylum seekers despite complaints from Israeli residents of south Tel Aviv. In fact, the court only limited the government’s ability to lock up asylum seekers in a Negev facility. It was Netanyahu who brokered a third-country expulsion agreement only to backtrack on it the next day.

Entman’s wife said bitterly that the court had “expelled settlers,” an apparent reference to court-ordered evacuation of Jewish settlers trespassing on private Palestinian property.

The massive demonstrations from right and left marked the culmination of a dramatic day in Israeli history, following Netanyahu’s firing of Defense Minister Yoav Galant after Galant urged a delay on the divisive judicial reform legislation, citing concerns about national security. The firing triggered an outpouring of public rage and ultimately led Netanyahu, for the first time since retaking office in December, to offer a compromise, promising to suspend legislation for several months and enter talks with opposition leaders.

The larger demonstrations were by critics of the government. But pro-reform organizers said more than 100,000 people attended demonstrations Monday across the country. In Jerusalem, more than a dozen cabinet ministers and Knesset members from coalition parties attended the rally, including Itamar Ben-Gvir, the head of the far-right Jewish Power party, and Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionism party. The men were reportedly among the last holdouts opposing the legislative pause, and each addressed the crowd.

The pro-government protests drew members of La Familia, a famously racist group of fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club, alongside other right-wing activists. After the protest ended, several demonstrators made their way to Jerusalem’s Sacher Park where they clashed with police forces. In another incident in Jerusalem, protesters identifying as supporters of the judicial reform attacked an Arab taxi driver, injuring him and damaging his car.

A theme of the pro-government protest was that efforts to oppose the judicial reform legislation represent a form of election denial, a critique that government lawmakers had advanced, citing their majority after last November’s election. One man wore an Israeli flag as a cape and held up a sign that read, ”They are stealing the election.”

Yehiel Zadok, an 18-year-old from the Har Bracha settlement, who voted for Netanyahu’s Likud party, said, “The left lost the election and it’s time [for them] to admit it.” He argued that the battle over Supreme Court appointments is no more than an effort by the left to deny the right its ability to rule the country.

Zadok, who said he plans to study in a yeshiva before joining a military combat unit, offered a long list of grievances against the Supreme Court. “It harms settlement, ties the hands of the army and takes power that doesn’t belong to it.”

Israeli minister of national Security Itamar Ben-Gvir attends a rally of right-wing Israelis supporting the government’s planned judicial overhaul, in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

And while Zadok expressed support for Netanyahu’s decision to suspend the legislative drive and to enable dialogue, he warned that if the prime minister drops the plan altogether, he, for one, will abandon Likud in the next election and vote for Ben-Gvir’s Jewish Power party.

“Netanyahu needs to know that he is indebted to a huge number of people who voted for him and the reform,” said Zadok.

His friend, Yaakov Klein, who is also 18, said he was there not only to show support for the proposed judicial overhaul, but also for a greater cause.

“This is not just about the reform,” said Klein. “It is about control of the country, about whether the right can rule.” Like many other supporters of Netanyahu’s government, he feels sidelined in a society which, he claims, is dominated by the left.

“The left held on to centers of power like the army and the Histadrut,” he said, referring to Israel’s largest labor union, which joined a call for a general strike to protest the government on Monday. “Something has been exposed by the left’s protests: that when you take a little bit of cheese away from them, they burn down everything.

“The media,” Klein added, ”isn’t presenting the truth. It doesn’t show the other side.”

The post At unusual counterprotest, right-wing demonstrators air grievances against Israel’s courts 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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