(JTA) — In response to questions about antisemitism in his country posed days after a deadly synagogue shooting in Djerba, Tunisian President Kais Saied said Palestinians “are killed every day” and “no one talks about it.”
He added on Saturday during a visit to the city of Ariana that his grandfather saved Jews during World War II.
“The tents of the Nazi army were here. Jews were hiding in my grandfather’s house; they were inside the house to protect them from the Nazi army. They now talk about antisemitism,” Saied said, according to multiple outlets. “Those who distort history, manipulate the facts, conspire against the state, and seek to undermine civil peace, then level accusations of antisemitism from outer circles — in what age do they live, and why have they lost their memory?”
A coalition of over 20 non-Jewish Tunisian rights organizations immediately issued a statement that, without mentioning Saied by name, denounced what they said was “a formidable confusion between defense of the Palestinian cause and antisemitism” in Tunisian discourse.
“The undersigned associations denounce the poor management of the crisis, which has been characterized by censorship and misinformation, the minimization of the seriousness of the operation and the primacy given to its economic impact,” wrote the coalition, which includes groups such as The Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities and the M’nemty anti-racism organization. “Ignoring its terrorist dimension, it is described as only a ‘criminal operation’ likely to ‘deal a blow to the tourist season, sow discord and bring down the state.’”
The Conference of European Rabbis, an Orthodox rabbinical group, offered a direct condemnation.
“The Conference of European Rabbis calls on European governments to condemn the inflammatory statements of President Kaies Saied of Tunisia implying that the Jews of Tunisia are responsible for the bombing of Gaza,” CER President Pinchas Goldschmidt said in a statement. “Through such wanton remarks, the president continues to incite further hatred and even attacks against the country’s Jewish community, heaven forbid. … The Tunisian President together with the relevant authorities should instead be offering support to the Jewish community and working to ensure its safety.”
Tunisia’s Chief Rabbi Haim Bitan said Tuesday that he has been invited to Saied’s palace on Wednesday, according to the Times of Israel. Goldschmidt said the community in Djerba, where the shooting took place, had not been contacted by government officials.
A security guard shot and killed five people, including two Jewish cousins from France and Israel, May 9 at the 2,500-year-old El Ghriba Synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The shooting took place during an annual Jewish pilgrimage that draws thousands from around the world on or around Lag b’Omer, a break during the 49 days of mourning between Passover and Shavuot.
In 2002, Al-Qaeda terrorists killed 21 people during the pilgrimage, which has been suspended at times over security and COVID-19 concerns. The pilgrimage had grown to draw as many as 10,000 people during the 1990s.
Nazi and Allied forces fought in Tunisia from 1942 to 1943. According to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust history authority, Vichy French and Muslim authorities were sympathetic to local Jews, whose population before the war numbered around 100,000. Most left after the foundation of Israel led to antisemitic rioting and growing hostility from the Tunisian government. Around 1,000 Jews remain on Djerba, an island of about 200 square miles.
Tunisia and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations, but reports since the Abraham Accords between Israel and some of its Arab neighbors have claimed that Saied is mulling peace with Israel. Israeli visitors are not usually permitted in Tunisia, but authorities make an exception for the Djerba pilgrimage.
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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