(JTA) — In his first public appearance after midterm elections in which his Republican Party failed to take control of the U.S. Senate, former president Donald Trump headed to a friendly audience.
The Zionist Organization of America was awarding Trump a rare honor, the Theodor Herzl Medal, for his contributions on behalf of Israel.
When the organization announced the award a month ago, it seemed that ZOA’s gala would be timed perfectly to kick off Trump’s 2024 reelection bid. Trump plans to make an announcement on Tuesday, and many expect him to launch a campaign then.
Instead, the gala landed at a precarious moment for the former president, as allies throughout the Republican Party have signaled or even said forthrightly in the last several days that they believe he should not run.
But if there is trouble in Trumpland, it wasn’t on display Sunday night at Chelsea Piers in New York City, where the ZOA crowd gave Trump a warm reception and offered no indication of any debate about which Republican candidate would be best for Israel in 2024.
Trump received standing ovations just about every time his name was mentioned, as multiple presenters recited the litany of achievements that they said had made him the best U.S. president ever for Israel. They include moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, brokering the Abraham Accords between Israel and Arab countries, pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal and more.
In his speech, Trump traversed familiar territory, arguing that his 2020 loss reflected “something screwy with our elections” and criticizing American Jews who don’t support Israel, about whose existence he has repeatedly expressed surprise.
“You do have people in this country that happen to be Jewish that are not doing the right thing for Israel,” said Trump, who traveled to New York for the gala from his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, where his daughter Tiffany celebrated her wedding Saturday night.
Donald Trump speaking at the ZOA Gala in NYC:
‘You do have people in this country that happen to be Jewish that are not doing the right thing for Israel.’ pic.twitter.com/MP47CzHnJv
— Jacob Henry (@jhenrynews) November 14, 2022
Other people on the program were not present. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader of the U.S. House who could become majority leader in January, did not attend.
And not everyone who spoke was there in person. Miriam Adelson, the previous winner of ZOA’s honor named after the founder of modern Zionism who, with her late husband Sheldon, has been a major funder of Republican Jewish causes, introduced Trump via Zoom.
“Who knows what added miracles you have up your sleeve?” Adelson said during her speech, addressing Trump. “What we do know is that like Herzl, your name adorns Zionist history — a history still being written and in which you will no doubt continue to play an epic role.”
Adelson did not mention that she has pledged to stay neutral in the 2024 presidential primary.
The ZOA gala in some ways represented the kickoff of that primary season for Republican Jews, one that appears likely to center on the question of whether to back Trump should he run again, or whether to throw support behind someone without his considerable baggage.
Later this week, the Republican Jewish Coalition will gather in Las Vegas for its annual convention. Trump won’t be speaking there, but several other likely contenders for the Republican nomination will be, including Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence; Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who got a warm reception at a different gathering of Jewish conservatives in New York earlier this year. The event will be the first post-midterms convening of the potential candidates.
The Republican Jewish Coalition, which endorses and supports Republican politicians, has at times been circumspect about Trump’s influence on the Republican Party. In 2016, the group was virtually silent on Trump until he won the general election, and this year, it has not backed all of the far-right candidates whom Trump endorsed, even openly criticizing one of them, Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania’s governor’s race, for his association with antisemites. (Mastriano conceded to Democrat Josh Shapiro during the ZOA gala.)
ZOA, meanwhile, says its only concern is a candidate’s support for Israel. The group’s president, Mort Klein — in a fiery speech that mocked progressive Democrats, Arabs and the idea of a Palestinian state — made clear that his confidence in Trump was unwavering.
“The Torah promises that Israel is the Jewish homeland, and will always be the Jewish homeland,” Klein said. “Unlike politicians, except President Trump, God keeps his promises.”
Attendees were enthusiastic about Trump’s presence. Some crowded toward the former president as a clutch of Secret Service officers held them back as Trump made his way to his seat.
Steve Merczynski, a Brooklyn resident who was wearing a hand-knit “MAGA” scarf made by a company he operates, pulled what he called a “Trump dollar” from his wallet. The fake bill showed Trump shaking DeSantis’ hand, with the caption “Make America Florida” — the implication being that a ticket shared by the two men would be Merczynski’s ideal in 2024.
“I resent how they’re scapegoating him,” Steven Merczynski said about Republicans who are blaming Trump for the party’s poor showing last week. “As Jews we should know about scapegoating. To me Trump is the biggest scapegoat.”
Cindy Grosz, who hosts a conservative talk show called the Jewess Patriot from her home on Long Island, said she sees Donald Trump as “a friend or a husband.”
“Like a matchmaker looking to make a shidduch, you take the good with the bad,” she said. “If you weigh his policies versus the discussion, his policies made America great. And now we have to make America great again.”
Grosz, who ran unsuccessfully to become a Republican congressional candidate in 2020, said she wouldn’t count Trump out based on this week’s election results.
“They have called for his demise how many times and he has survived it,” she said. “I don’t think that whatever happened this week is his end either. And I look forward to hearing what he has to say Tuesday night.”
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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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