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Israeli drama film ‘Concerned Citizen’ tackles gentrification and race issues in Tel Aviv

(JTA) — The Israeli satirical drama film “Concerned Citizen” opens with the sacrosanct rituals of a bourgeois Tel Aviv life: a robot vacuum slides gracefully across the floor; lush house plants are watered; vegetables are blended into green juice. The score from the Bellini opera “Norma” plays in the background.

Then a car alarm rudely interrupts the utopia. 

It only gets worse from here for Ben and Raz, a progressive Israeli gay couple (played by actors Shlomi Bertonov and Ariel Wolf, who are also a couple in real life) living in a pristine renovated apartment in a gentrifying neighborhood in south Tel Aviv. When Ben, a landscape architect, plants a tree on their block, his seemingly innocent desire to improve the neighborhood quickly goes awry, and a series of events forces him to face his own repressed prejudices and hypocrisy.

With the tension of a thriller, “Concerned Citizen,” the second feature film by Israeli writer-director Idan Haguel, tackles the universal themes of privilege and multicultural tension in gentrifying cities, using the hyper-specific lens of Neve Sha’anan — the south Tel Aviv neighborhood that’s home to many of the country’s foreign workers and asylum seekers, as well as the city’s notoriously rundown (but culturally vibrant) Central Bus Station. 

After making its world premiere last year at the famed Berlin International Film Festival, the movie debuts in select U.S. theaters on Friday and will also be available to rent on Amazon and Apple TV+.

Ben and Raz’s apartment, a hot commodity in one of the world’s most expensive cities, is the axis around which much of the drama revolves. In one scene, a French-Jewish woman looks into buying the apartment sight unseen. Their neighbors include both the extremely vulnerable and the privileged: immigrants from Eritrea in one apartment, and a writer plotting his move to Berlin with his foreign wife in another. 

Idan Haguel spoke with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about the film and his personal connections to it. After losing his suitcase, Haguel chatted on his phone from a cafe in Berlin before heading to New York for the film’s American release. 

This conversation has been edited and condensed. 

JTA: Tell me a little about yourself and how you became a filmmaker. 

IH: I was born in the suburban city Rishon LeTsiyon and I always didn’t know what to do with my life. After the army I decided to go to film school. I wanted to be a scriptwriter, to do comedies. I discovered filmmaking, directing, and I gradually fell in love with that part. Then after school, I became a journalist because I couldn’t make a film — it was very difficult for me to get into that world. When my journalism career ended abruptly by the closing of the magazine, I decided that it’s now or never. I made my first feature film, that was a film called “Inertia.” That film is based on childhood memories of my grandparents. My grandparents were immigrants from Lebanon, Romania and Thessaloniki in Greece. 

“Concerned Citizen” is partially about immigration. Why was it important to you to focus on the immigrant experience? 

I was drawn into the irony, and, some may say, hypocrisy of living in a country that historically was formed by the narrative of [the Jew] being the immigrant of the world, not accepted into other countries, that in some ways still holding that grudge against countries that weren’t receptive to the immigrant Jew and pushed immigrants out. Of course, there is the horror story of Germany and the Holocaust and that’s the extreme end of mistreating “the other.” So living in a country formed by immigrants, [contrasted with] the way we behave to immigrants who are not part of the ethos of the Jewish immigrant narrative — I was drawn into that irony, although it wasn’t an intellectual process. It was more based on the experience of living in that neighborhood in south Tel Aviv, being marinated in the dilemmas and the daily complexity of living in Neve Sha’anan as a bourgeois, middle class person. After a few years I wanted to comment on that. I wanted to be brutally honest with myself and about myself. So my daily life and the life of my neighbors and friends became the material with which I wrote this fictional movie.

And you shot the film in your old apartment! 

That was the mindfuck of the whole production, because I made the story close to me but I left a distance. I used my experience but I created these characters who are very close but very different. I shot the therapy scenes in my therapist’s clinic. I shot the building scenes in my building on my street. Everything became very, very close and it was really an “Alice in Wonderland” experience. Looking into a mirror and everything is morphing and making you look different and look differently at yourself and your life.

Can you talk about the south Tel Aviv neighborhood where the film is set, Neve Sha’anan? 

It’s the outskirts of the center of Tel Aviv. It was always an immigrant neighborhood. But it changed over the years, it became working immigrants. In the 90s, there were the Romanian immigrants, and then it was Chinese immigrants who came to work in Israel. And over the last 15 years it has become immigrants from Africa, combined with older people who have lived there years and new people who are the more gentrifiers of the neighborhood, artists and gay people and those who are more economically stable. So now the neighborhood is comprised of sex workers, immigrants, junkies, dealers, and gay people. It’s a mix, but the prices have gone low, and people who didn’t have enough money to buy property in the city center started buying there. So the neighborhood has this tension of people who want to live a more bourgeois life, but they’re in the middle of the neighborhood with people who don’t have rights, who are immigrants, who don’t know if tomorrow the government will kick them out. People from all over the world. But it’s become a haven for investors and the neighborhood is in the middle of being gentrified and changed. 

So it’s a very interesting setting to live in and to make a film in. It’s very dense. It’s one of the less homogenic and more diverse areas in Israel. Israel prides itself on the diversity of Jewish people coming from Arab countries, coming from Europe. But they’re all Jewish and they share a common mentality and they’re all citizens of Israel. Neve Sha’anan is more diverse – it’s people from India, China, Eritrea, Sudan, the Ivory Coast. I feel it’s a missed opportunity by Israeli society that instead of accepting these people legally and into our society, they are trying to hold back and fight against it. It’s also very ironic that Israel is becoming a state that aspires to have a government like this. It’s mind-boggling. It’s like, we learned nothing from history and our own history. It’s like people don’t want to connect dots. They just want to see the cruel history that they experienced as the Jewish people and feel like it was something personal that happened to them, and like they cannot be the victimizers at all. 

You’ve said that this film is very much about the idea of who’s the victim and who’s the victimizer.  

When you raise yourself and your children on the narrative of being a victim and perpetuating historical trauma it’s very hard to notice other people’s traumas, and the fact that you are creating traumas for other people. Because you’re constantly in trauma and you’re always dealing with your own trauma and you’re always the victim and you’re the center of the world, but you are not the center of the world. I think it should change. But no one cares what I think! Sometimes I don’t care about what I think.

What was the casting process like?

The casting process was through meeting people and going to plays. [I turned to] the Holot theater company to cast the Eritrean community in Israel. It was cast mainly by meeting actors from the group, having conversations with them. Basically they wanted to participate in the film and I was very lucky about that. They’re a group that used to be based in Holot outside of a temporary incarceration open prison for immigrants who don’t have permits to stay in Israel. They put them in an open prison in the desert close to the Negev. 

There’s an interesting scene between the French-Jewish woman (played by Flora Bloch) who is trying to move to Israel and Ben that I thought was a very revealing moment about the ways that Jewishness is expressed when Jews are a minority in the country versus when they are the majority in the country. The French woman is concerned by France’s antisemitism and wants to move to Israel, while Ben is tortured by the complexities of living as a privileged Jewish Israeli person. Can you say something about what that scene meant to you? 

One of the things I’m proud about this film is that I feel like it deals with subjects which are not easy subjects to address. But I think we managed to create a balance between comedy and drama that I’m very proud of. I think it allows the film to be self explanatory. It can reveal its deep themes and make you think, in an entertaining way. Again, it’s about irony. It’s about hypocrisy. It’s about human nature. Knowing how to experience your own point of view, and being unable to be in another person’s point of view. It’s human nature, and it’s ever-fascinating to me.

And it also happens to me a lot of times with the fact that I can be in my own shoes and identify my own narrative so much but it’s hard for me to even experience a person who is experiencing the same thing as me but in a different language in different settings. But the resemblance is there so it’s very ironic. And I think that scene is about that.  


The post Israeli drama film ‘Concerned Citizen’ tackles gentrification and race issues in Tel Aviv appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

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The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

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Obituaries

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.

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