(JTA) — The Israeli government’s controversial judicial reform plan cleared a major hurdle as its parliament, the Knesset, voted to advance a key piece of the plan.
The 63-47 vote took place early Tuesday morning, following a second week of mass protests outside the Knesset in Jerusalem. The bill was introduced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, which took office in December. It would give the Israeli governing coalition full control over the appointment of judges and would bar the Supreme Court from striking down basic laws, which are Israel’s closest parallel to a constitution.
The bill now returns to discussion in parliamentary committees ahead of two more votes in the Knesset, which generally occur close together and would pass the bill into law. In addition to pushing the bill forward, Tuesday’s vote was a signal that it has majority support in parliament. Members of the government have called for further limits on the court, including a measure that would significantly curtail the court’s ability to strike down laws.
The vote happened in the face of a series of mass protests against the reform in Israel, and despite the warnings of a chorus of world leaders, legal scholars and public intellectuals that it would harm Israel’s standing as a democracy. Israeli President Isaac Herzog called for compromise over the reform plan last week and said in a pained speech that he feared the battle over the legislation would lead to “constitutional and social collapse.” It is unclear whether dialogue over the bill will take place given Tuesday’s vote.
Recently, sounds of alarm have come from Tom Nides, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, who said on Saturday that the Israeli government should “pump the brakes” on the court reform. President Joe Biden has also criticized the plan. In addition, a group of 15 major North American Jewish philanthropists signed an open letter on Monday saying they were “deeply troubled by this attempt to curtail the independence of the judiciary.”
The bill gives members of the coalition a majority on the nine-seat panel that appoints judges to the Supreme Court. Unlike the U.S. government, in which separate elections for Senate and president allow for a potential check on the president’s power to appoint judges, the Israeli governing coalition is comprised of a majority of its legislature and would alone wield discretion over appointments.
Yair Lapid, the leader of the parliamentary opposition, tweeted, “Members of the coalition: History will judge you for tonight. For the damage to democracy, for the damage to the economy, for the damage to security, for the fact that you’re tearing the people of Israel to pieces and you just don’t care.”
In a speech on the Knesset floor, Netanyahu accused the opposition of going “off the rails” and criticized the protests. He defended the bill as the work of a democratically elected government.
“In a democracy, the people votes in elections, and representatives of the people vote here in the Knesset,” Netanyahu said. “That’s called democracy. The leaders of the protests, unfortunately, are trampling democracy. They don’t accept the outcome of the election. They don’t accept the decision of the majority.”
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism party and an ally of Netanyahu, tweeted a shorter message: “What you elect is what you get!”
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Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN
Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.
Bill Maher tells it like it is when it comes to what “the river to the sea” really means
Bill Maher cuts to the chase like no one else. Here’s a link to a segment from the most recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” where he exposes the total hypocrisy of the “useful idiots” everywhere chanting “from the river to the sea”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP-CRXROorw
Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25
The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg held a rally in support of Israel on Saturday evening, November 25.
A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.
Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg
Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed
Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs