(New York Jewish Week) — American Jewish progressive organizations drew hundreds of New Yorkers out in the rain opposite the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan on Tuesday to show support for democracy in Israel and protest its government’s proposed court reform.
Hundreds of thousands of people across Israel have turned out to weekly protests opposing the plan, and smaller groups of Israel expatriates have held satellite protests abroad. Tuesday’s protest was different, organized and largely attended by American Jewish groups that support progressive policies in Israel.
“We are here because there is a massive attack on democracy that’s devised by extremist politicians who are corrupting Judaism to turn Israel into a fascist theocracy,” Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah, the liberal rabbinic human rights group that co-hosted the demonstration, said at the event as attendees sought shelter under umbrellas. “We are here to say that is not our Judaism, and that is not our Israel.”
The court reform plan advanced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government would give the governing coalition total control over the appointment of Supreme Court judges, and would enable a bare majority of lawmakers to override Supreme Court decisions, among other changes. Parts of the plan passed a key legal hurdle earlier on Tuesday.
American progressive Jewish groups held a rally today at the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan to show their support for democracy in Israel.
— Jacob Henry (@jhenrynews) February 21, 2023
Tuesday’s rally was hosted by the Progressive Israel Network, a coalition of liberal Jewish groups including T’ruah, J Street, the New York Jewish Agenda, Ameinu, the Jewish Labor Committee, the New Israel Fund and others.
Some of those groups now find themselves in the unusual position of advocating for a stance held by a majority of Jewish Israelis. Some of the co-hosts, for example, opposed President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, which most Jewish Israelis supported, or supported the Iran nuclear agreement, which most Jewish Israelis opposed. Not so with the court reform: The groups at the rally, and the majority of Israeli Jews, have said they oppose the plan.
“The majority of Israelis are speaking out and I hope that changes will occur,” said Matt Nosanchuk, the outgoing executive director of the New York Jewish Agenda. “Even if these reforms pass, that doesn’t mean we stop protesting. We will keep finding ways for them to be reversed.”
Jacobs told the New York Jewish Week that stopping the court reform should also be important to people who support Palestinian rights.
“This will enable this government to move forward some truly terrible moves that will have an even greater effect on the human rights of both Palestinians living under occupation and Israeli Jews,” she said.
Israel’s control of the West Bank was mentioned at the rally. New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, who is Jewish, called in his speech for “an end to the occupation” and said the Democratic party “cannot continue to toe the AIPAC line,” a reference to the influential pro-Israel lobby that assertively defends Israeli policy and counters criticism of Israel.
‘We cannot continue to write a blank check to an increasingly authoritarian regime,’ Lander said.
Comptroller @bradlander said that the future of Israeli democracy requires ‘an end to the occupation.’
He added that the Democratic party ‘cannot continue to tow the AIPAC line.’
‘We cannot continue to write a blank check to an increasingly authoritarian regime,’ he said. pic.twitter.com/oCiMINxwXD
— Jacob Henry (@jhenrynews) February 22, 2023
Jonathan Kopp, a J Street board member, said democratic values shared by Israel and the United States are “under assault by this right-wing government.”
“Just as President [Joe] Biden has made protecting American democracy here [a priority], we urge him to directly confront Netanyahu’s extremist plans, which would subvert democracy in the service of settlements, demolitions and occupation,” he said.
Some participants at the rally said they wished its message went further. Eva Borgwardt, the political director of IfNotNow, a Jewish organization that opposes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, felt advocacy for Palestinian rights felt lacking at the rally, which she said “could actually be a moment for the American progressive movement to coalesce.”
“I think that there weren’t a lot of signs about apartheid at this protest,” Borgwardt said, who was holding a sign that said “No Democracy With Apartheid.” Prominent human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have said Israel is guilty of apartheid in its treatment of the Palestinians.
“Especially with the current government, it’s becoming even more of a problem,” Borgwardt added. “We have to unify around the problem if we’re going to be powerful enough to actually achieve a solution.”
Shaul Franco, 38, an Israeli who has lived in New York for three and half years, said he came to the rally because “things have been going in a very bad trajectory for so long.” Franco added that he’s not sure if he will go back to Israel “anytime soon.”
“We want to see a much stronger pushback from the president,” Franco said. “But I don’t count on them doing Israel’s job.”
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Focus group Oct. 11 at Simkin Centre for people concerned about personal care homes
As Manitobans have gone to the polls and with a new legislative assembly about to begin a new four-year term, the challenges of long-term and continuing care homes need to be communicated.
MARCHE, the Manitoba Association of Residential and Community Care Homes for the Elderly will be holding a focus group on Wednesday, October 11 that is intended to provide the community at large a forum to express thoughts and provide ideas and recommendations for the future.
Please join us on Wednesday, October 11th at the Saul & Claribel Simkin Centre. We look forward to hearing from you.
See poster below for more information and how to register to attend.
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.)