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In speech to EU parliament, Israel’s president says criticism is OK, but questioning Israel’s existence is not

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(JTA) — In a speech to the European Union parliament tied to commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said that criticism of his country, which has drawn renewed international scrutiny over its new right-wing government, is legitimate. Questioning Israel’s right to exist, he added, is “antisemitism in the full sense of the word.”

“It is, of course, OK to criticize the state that I head. It is OK to criticize us, and it is OK to disagree with us, just as it is OK to criticize you and your states,” he said on Thursday. “Our country is open to criticism like all members in the family of nations, and Israeli democracy certainly excels in fierce and penetrating internal criticism.”

Herzog’s comments come as his government back home has proposed a wave of judicial reforms that critics say will damage Israel’s standing as a full-fledged democracy. Two Israeli tech firms pulled their funds out of the country on the same day, citing what they deem the financial dangers of the government’s proposals, and all eyes are fixed on the government’s right-wing Cabinet ministers in charge of security and the West Bank after a military raid left nine Palestinians dead on Thursday.

Later in the day, Herzog visited a Jewish school in Brussels, where he was asked a question about the government’s controversial proposals.

“In the current crisis in Israel,” he responded, according to the Times of Israel. “I am making a supreme effort to create a dialogue between all sides. This is an important presidential role, to try and do good for the people of Israel.”

On Tuesday, Herzog, a former Labor Party leader, sharply criticized the judicial reform proposals, which would strip the country’s Supreme Court of the power to override parliament decisions.

“The dramatic reform, when done quickly without negotiation, rouses opposition and deep concerns among the public,” he said, according to the Times of Israel. “I see the sides prepared and ready all along the front for an all-out confrontation over the character of the State of Israel, and I am anxious we are on the brink of an internal struggle that could consume us all.”

Herzog’s EU speech also comes at a time when recent surveys of views in European countries, such as a recent one conducted in Belgium’s neighbor the Netherlands, show record levels of Holocaust ignorance and acceptance of antisemitic beliefs.

“I call upon you, elected officials of Europe, do not stand by, you must read the warning signs and fight at all costs,” he said. “You must ensure that every Jew wanting to live a full Jewish life in your countries may do so safely and fearlessly.”

Friday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, tied to the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Herzog also mentioned his family history in his remarks, wore a kippah at the podium and recited a version of “El Malei Rachamim,” a traditional Jewish prayer for the dead that had been rewritten by his grandfather — Rabbi Isaac Herzog, Israel’s first chief rabbi — to account for enormity of the Holocaust.

“In the only Jewish synagogue in Warsaw that was still standing [after the Holocaust], the Nozhik synagogue, a few dozen souls gathered, snatched from the jaws of carnage. A blood stained Torah scroll was handed to my grandfather by the survivors to be taken to the land of Israel for internal memory,” he said.


The post In speech to EU parliament, Israel’s president says criticism is OK, but questioning Israel’s existence is not appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Obituaries

PHYLLIS POLLOCK

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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

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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

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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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