(JTA) — Leading up to its New York City conference, the Jerusalem Post tried to avoid the anti-government protests that had bedeviled other recent gatherings where Israeli government officials had spoken.
And until 3 p.m., it appeared the Israeli newspaper’s efforts had succeeded.
Protest organizers told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the conference had canceled 20 to 30 tickets that protesters had bought. A demonstration outside the conference, which took place in Manhattan on Monday, had dissipated by mid-morning.
At one point, four security guards on the sidewalk manhandled a protester who tried and failed to enter the atrium. But inside, for most of the day, all passed quietly. Israeli right-wing government ministers who had been heckled at other events appeared onstage without interruption. The biggest distraction in the room was a constant hum of chatter among the attendees.
But in the mid-afternoon, as Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat took the stage to discuss government action to encourage entrepreneurship, the familiar Hebrew chants of “Shame! Shame!” echoed in the room, disrupting his remarks, and a group of protesters were escorted out.
“What violence, what did we do?” said Shany Granot-Lubaton, a local protest organizer who was barred from entering. “Barkat can’t take it that we’re heckling him? We can heckle him. Keep talking, we’re all adults. We’re allowed to express our opinion.”
The ejection was a kind of coda to a week in which protesters in New York and elsewhere, many of them Israeli expatriates like Granot-Lubaton, have tried to meet and disrupt Israeli cabinet ministers wherever they were — at meetings with Jewish organizations, speaking in synagogues, at a parade on Sunday or walking on the public sidewalks. Videos of the disruptions circulated online. The ministers who were the targets of the protests decried being hounded, and the demonstrators said they were exercising their right to free speech.
In one instance in Los Angeles, in the face of the protesters, an Israeli cabinet member canceled a speech. On Friday night, a leading architect of the Israeli government’s effort to weaken the judiciary grabbed a protester’s megaphone in New York City and rushed away before handing it back.
On Sunday, Amichai Chikli, Israel’s minister of Diaspora affairs, was photographed making what looked like an obscene gesture while grinning at protesters at the Celebrate Israel Parade. He and a spokesperson insisted that he was telling the protesters to smile, but that only one finger was raised toward his mouth because he was clutching an Israeli flag with the others.
— Jacob N. Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) June 4, 2023
Speaking onstage on Monday, Chikli seemed to allude to the incident. “Amazing experience, good music, good vibes, and we made sure everyone smiled,” Chikli said about the parade.
The conference organized by the Jerusalem Post was intended to provide a substantive forum to discuss contemporary Israel as a complement to the celebratory parade. The Jerusalem Post, which is a syndication client of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s wire service, did not respond to requests for comment about its handling of protesters.
Throughout the conference, the government’s judicial overhaul — which, if passed in its current form, would sap the Israeli Supreme Court of much of its power — was referenced throughout the conference but did not dominate the agenda. Speakers included Chikli, Barkat and a few other Israeli cabinet ministers; New York City Mayor Eric Adams; two senators: James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, and Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat; officials from the Biden administration; and an assortment of other public figures in Israeli politics, business and the nonprofit sector.
“Israel is an independent country, they make their own decisions,” Cardin, who recently announced his impending retirement, said in an interview on the conference sidelines. “There are policies that the current government are espousing that I think are wrong, and I’ll express myself, but it doesn’t at all affect my deep support for the special ties between our two countries and the continued U.S. support for Israel.”
But while the gathering didn’t center on the strife currently tearing apart Israeli society, speakers throughout the day stressed the need for pan-Israeli solidarity, at times coupled with criticism of the government. Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who served a prison sentence for corruption, gave a fiery interview in which he said, to cheers, “If we do not understand that these ministers do not speak for the people of Israel and for the Jewish people, we will pay dearly.”
Benny Gantz, the centrist former defense minister and opposition politician, said that when it comes to Israel countering a military threat from Iran, “Should a time come when action is needed, this government will receive full support from the opposition in any determined, appropriate, and responsible action.”
But he added, regarding Israel’s domestic politics, “We need to shift power from the extremes to the center, and treat minorities decently.”
Israeli government officials focused their remarks on other topics. Chikli both praised and criticized the Biden administration’s recent plan to combat antisemitism, expressing gratitude that it referred to a definition of antisemitism whose provisions mostly focus on Israel, but lamenting that it referred to another definition as well.
“I think it is positive that there is a plan to combat antisemitism,” he said. “It is important that they say the most important and central definition. But it is bad that they opened the door for irrelevant definitions.”
And Chikli and Ofir Sofer, the minister of immigration and absorption, both suggested that the government should discuss amending the Law of Return, which affords automatic Israeli citizenship to any Jew or descendant of at least one Jewish grandparent.
“I don’t think it’s going to change in the near future,” Sofer said, adding that he would set up a committee to discuss the issue. “But I am going to deal with this issue. I will lead the dialogue between the Jewish community and the Israeli government and Israeli society.”
But standing outside after they were kicked out, the handful of protesters who were in the conference said their goal was to prevent the government officials from conducting business as usual.
The goal, said Matti Shalev, a protester, is “to make Nir Barkat aware that anywhere in the world he is going, we’re going to remind him that this will not come to pass.”
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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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