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George Washington U faces federal investigation over antisemitism charges after clearing professor of them



(JTA) – Little more than a week after it dismissed allegations of antisemitism against one of its professors, George Washington University will face a federal investigation over the same allegations.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will open an investigation into a federal discrimination complaint brought against the university by the pro-Israel group StandWithUs, the group said. The complaint alleges that the university did not properly respond to student reports of the professor, who teaches graduate-level psychology, making antisemitic comments in class and bringing in a guest speaker who expressed anti-Zionist views.

Opening an investigation does not necessarily mean that the department believes the complaint has merit, but pro-Israel activists still celebrated it as a symbolic victory. 

The news came nine days after the university’s own investigation into the matter, conducted by a third party, had determined that student allegations of antisemitism were unfounded. The university’s investigation was also prompted by the StandWithUs complaint, but its interviews with students and reviews of recorded lectures could not corroborate any of the allegations. The investigation concluded, in addition, that StandWithUs’ definition of antisemitism “could infringe on free speech principles and academic freedom.”

The StandWithUs complaint alleges that the university did not properly respond when Israeli students said the professor, Lara Sheehi, had made dismissive comments to them, including telling one, “It’s not your fault you were born in Israel.” The students also said the professor had brought in a guest speaker for an optional lecture who expressed anti-Zionist views, and that Sheehi did not acknowledge that they felt targeted by the talk. 

Sheehi has denied the allegations and accused the university of having “colluded” with StandWithUs. The university’s third-party investigation could not corroborate whether she had made the comments in question. It did find that Sheehi had “repeatedly acknowledged the students’ feelings.” The federal investigation is concerned only with whether the university responded appropriately to the student complaints.

The case has attracted both supporters and detractors across the world of higher education. Sheehi has garnered support from academic groups including the Middle East Studies Association. Meanwhile, Jewish groups have pointed to other reported instances of antisemitic behavior on George Washington’s campus over the last couple of years, including graffiti outside the campus Hillel and a damaged imitation Torah at a Jewish fraternity.

StandWithUs trumpeted the news of the federal investigation as a refutation of the university investigation’s findings. Like other pro-Israel groups that have filed legal complaints, the organization has petitioned the Department of Education to explicitly define anti-Zionist speech as antisemitic.

“University administrators have an affirmative obligation to respond adequately when students report allegations of such misconduct,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement, which added that the Department of Education’s civil rights office “has recognized the need to investigate these allegations in a thorough and unbiased manner.”

The Department of Education has been playing a more active role in adjudicating campus disputes over antisemitism allegations since the Donald Trump administration expanded the department’s civil rights mandate in 2019 under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory behavior at federally-funded programs or institutions, such as public universities. Earlier this week, the office reached a resolution with the University of Vermont over a separate case, finding that administrators had failed to respond adequately to reports of antisemitism on campus — including anti-Zionist speech from students and teaching assistants.

The post George Washington U faces federal investigation over antisemitism charges after clearing professor of them 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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