WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Joe Biden said he remains concerned about the turmoil in Israel even after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paused legislation that would radically reform the judiciary. Biden also said he had no plans to meet Netanyahu anytime soon.
“Like many strong supporters of Israel I’m very concerned, and I’m concerned that they get this straight,” Biden said Tuesday when he was asked by reporters about the health of Israel’s democracy.
“They cannot continue down this road,” he said at a press conference that took place during a visit to Durham, North Carolina. “And I’ve sort of made that clear. Hopefully the prime minister will act in a way that he can try to work out some genuine compromise, but that remains to be seen.”
Biden answered with an emphatic “No” when he was asked if he is inviting Netanyahu to the White House. “Not in the near term,” he said. That dampened an expectation that his ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, stoked on Tuesday morning when he said he expected Netanyahu to travel to Washington sometime after Passover. Nides later said there was no set date for such a visit.
Biden’s nixing a visit by Netanyahu anytime soon and his skepticism about Netanyahu’s good faith in suspending the legislation, which he said “remains to be seen,” is not the lowest point in U.S.-Israel relations. But it stands out because both men describe each other as friends of years’ standing.
Netanyahu, who according to Israeli media reports is anxious to receive a U.S. invitation, responded to Biden’s comments on Twitter by mentioning that relationship. “I have known President Biden for over 40 years, and I appreciate his longstanding commitment to Israel,” he tweeted. “The alliance between Israel and the United States is unbreakable and always overcomes the occasional disagreements between us.”
But, Netanyahu added in another tweet, “Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends.”
Netanyahu on Monday evening yielded to weeks of mass protests against his proposed reforms, which would sap the courts’ powers and independence, and said he would pause the legislation until May and would invite opposition leaders to negotiate modifications to the legislation. An initial negotiation took place Tuesday, but it is unclear what concessions Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition will be willing to make.
Biden administration officials have singled out a number of reasons why Biden is appalled at the legislation. Biden’s foreign policy stresses democratic values — the State Department is running a virtual “Summit for Democracy” this week — and rollbacks in democratic rights in one of the United States’ closest allies sounds a jarring dissonance with that policy. Israel’s courts are seen as a bulwark against the erosion of rights for vulnerable communities, including women, Arab, the LGBTQ community and non-Orthodox Jews.
Additionally, top Israeli security officials, including the defense minister, Yoav Galant, have said the deep divisions sowed among Israelis by the legislative push have created vulnerabilities that Israel’s enemies are eager to exploit. The Biden administration is counting on Israel to contain the ambitions of Iran, and has staged a number of joint military exercises with Israel in recent months.
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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.
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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