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Jewish teens, led by Ezra Beinart, are gathering on Zoom to meet prominent Palestinians

(JTA) — When Rep. Rashida Tlaib joined a Zoom with 40 teenagers, she soon found herself talking about the kinds of topics — academic and otherwise — that tend to take up their days. 

There was discussion of the stress of AP exams, embarrassing dads and social media memes. She showed them pictures on Instagram of her dog at the U.S. Capitol. Everyone was on a first-name basis. 

“My son is a [high school] junior,” she said, responding to a message in the Zoom chat from one of the teen participants. “Oh my God, the SAT — I was stressed out. I’m stressed because he’s stressed. He had to take all his AP exams and stuff.”

Tlaib got personal too — talking about her grandmother, with whom she last spoke on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.  

But the conversation also turned to a question many of the teens had encountered at high school, camp, youth groups or elsewhere in their lives: Is anti-Zionism antisemitism?

As the only Palestinian-American in Congress — and perhaps the chamber’s most prominent anti-Zionist — Tlaib was in a unique position to answer. And the students on the call had a particular interest in the question as well: They were all Jewish.

The teens are all participants in a new initiative, launched last year, to expose young American Jews to Palestinian voices through video chats. Founded by Ezra Beinart, a junior at a Jewish day school in New York City, the project’s goal is to bring Palestinian perspectives to a demographic that, he says, sorely lacks them. 

“I live in a very Jewish community and most of the people around me are very educated on the Israeli perspective, but not as knowledgeable about the Palestinian side,” Beinart said in an interview. “And that’s why I decided to create the group to inform young Jews about the other side of the story, which I don’t think most Jewish students know much about.”

In her response to the question about antisemitism and anti-Zionism, Tlaib again turned to her grandmother, Muftieh, whom she refers to with the Arabic term “Sity” and whom she has portrayed as the face of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. She said people were “weaponizing antisemitism” in order to chill criticism of Israel.

“My grandmother, literally solely based on the fact that she was born Palestinian, she just doesn’t have equality,” Tlaib told the teens. “Her life would be completely different if that wasn’t the case. And so, you know, for me criticizing that, if anything, is more chipping away at this form of government that does that to my Sity.”

Michigan House Rep. Rashida Tlaib speaks on stage at a concert in Detroit, July 16, 2022. (Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)

Beinart said he wants to increase opportunities for Jewish-Palestinian interaction. So he said he has reached out to “very Jewish” communities around the country, through chat groups and progressive synagogues, to get the word out. He started out with just a handful of teens, but his numbers are growing: His session with Tlaib drew 40 viewers. 

Such interest comes at a time of political flux in Israel, and as young Jewish adults in the United States view the country less favorably than their elders. A 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center found that Jews aged 18-30 were less emotionally attached to Israel than older generations, more skeptical of its efforts toward peace and likelier to support efforts to boycott it. In recent years, activist groups founded by young Jews have pushed institutions such as campus Hillels and the Conservative movement’s Camp Ramah network to be more inclusive of Palestinian or anti-Zionist perspectives.  

The initiative’s format has speakers introduce themselves for five minutes or so and then take questions, which Beinart selects, for another 30 minutes. It has held about half a dozen sessions with speakers like Ayman Mohyeldin, a journalist at MSNBC, and Amahl Bishara, a professor at Tufts University. Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, is its most prominent guest so far. (Her office did not respond to multiple requests for an interview or for comment.)

Beinart wanted his peers to have their minds opened, as he said his was when he interned last summer at the Jerusalem Fund, a pro-Palestinian think tank and advocacy organization in Washington D.C. He noticed that a friend of his who worked there used “Palestine” as readily as he used “Israel,” and described to him how fraught traveling to the region was for her, whereas he took his ability to enter the country for granted.

“It made it much more tangible to have friends explain how Israel’s actions affect them in everyday life,” he said. “It’s different from just reading about it or seeing a video.”

If Beinart’s name is familiar, it’s because his father is Peter Beinart, the writer who was once an outspoken advocate for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, and now is a prominent Jewish voice supporting a single, binational Israeli-Palestinian state. The elder Beinart declined to comment for this article, as the initiative is his son’s project rather than his. But for a decade, Peter Beinart has been making the case that American Jews need to spend more time listening to Palestinian voices. 

Resistance to hearing from Palestinians, the elder Beinart wrote in 2013 in the New York Review of Books, “make[s] the organized American Jewish community a closed intellectual space, isolated from the experiences and perspectives of roughly half the people under Israeli control. And the result is that American Jewish leaders, even those who harbor no animosity toward Palestinians, know little about the reality of their lives.”

Ezra acknowledges his father’s influence, albeit reluctantly. The first speaker in the series was Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist Ezra met when he accompanied Peter on a West Bank tour.

 “Yeah, obviously, but I’m going my own way with it,” Ezra Beinart said, asked about his father’s influence. “I’m connecting Israel-Palestine to what I see going on with my peers, my friends.”

In the Zoom session, Tlaib intuited Ezra’s ambivalence about bringing his father into the conversation, so she trod carefully when she quoted the elder Beinart to make a point.

“Ezra, your dad said something once — I know you don’t want me to mention your dad, you’re like my son,” she said. But she then brought up a quote by Peter Beinart to explain why she had chosen, despite considerable backlash, to host an event in the U.S. Capitol commemorating the Nakba, the word meaning “catastrophe” which Palestinians use to describe their displacement during and after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. 

Peter Beinart’s quote was, “When you tell a people to forget its past, you are not proposing peace, you are proposing extinction.”

Tlaib said, “I used [Beinart’s quote] today when I got interviewed because I love this, but when Peter says it, it’s like okay, look at this is, this is a Jewish American man speaking up about the importance of understanding history.” 

After the meeting, Ezra Beinart told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he chose questions that reflected the narrative Jewish youth were exposed to in their communities. In addition to discussing anti-Zionism and antisemitism, one question was, “What is your response to those who believe that using the word ‘occupation’ is harmful?” (Avoiding accurate terminology inhibits the advance of peace and human rights, Tlaib said.)

“Jewish people, when they think about Palestinians, they think of terror, most of them,” Beinart said. “So that’s something they should hear about from Palestinians.”

Teaneck, the northern New Jersey suburb that would qualify as a “very Jewish” community by nearly any standard, is where one of the participants, Liora Pelavin, 15, lives. Her mother, who is a rabbi, saw a post about Beinart’s Zoom meetings on Facebook and thought her daughter might be interested.

“Hearing from Palestinians really humanizes them,” Pelavin, who attended a Jewish day school through eighth grade and now goes to a public high school, said in an interview.  “It makes me learn and also realize that they all have different opinions, too.”

Yehuda Kurtzer, the president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, an organization whose programs include facilitating dialogue between American Jews, Israelis and Palestinians, said any interaction would be welcome.

However, he was concerned that most of the Palestinians Ezra Beinart had selected were political or advocacy leaders, instead of ordinary Palestinians who might be better suited to explain everyday realities to high school students.

“There’s probably a version of a way to do this like Encounter,” a long-running program that brings American Jews to the West Bank for dialogue with Palestinians, “where you are hearing from people and learn their stories, and you are free to come to the political conclusions you want,” Kurtzer said. “But you  humanize their experience. That’s one way of doing any of this work. There’s another way to do this work, which is, ‘I want to influence the politics of your own community.’”

Jonathan Kessler — a former senior official at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who now leads Heart of a Nation, a group that facilitates dialogue among Jewish American, Palestinian and Israeli teens — said he was aware of Beinart’s initiative, and that it is an example of how Gen Z may be better able to break down barriers than their elders.

“A generation that does not think of gender and sexuality in binary terms is uniquely well positioned to approach a conflict, which has for too long been defined in a binary way,” Kessler said.

Yousef Munayyer, a Palestinian political scientist who has spoken to Beinart’s group, said it was particularly important for Palestinian speakers to reach Jewish teens.

“Within the Jewish community, particularly in the organized Jewish community, there may be a lot of pro-Israel perspectives represented and not a whole lot of Palestinian perspectives represented,” he said. “I’m always inspired when I speak to younger people about this issue who have an interest in learning more.”

For Tlaib, it was also a forum where she had expressed views that she hasn’t otherwise voiced publicly — saying that she felt conflicted about evacuating Israeli settlers because they had lived in the West Bank for so long.

“Just the idea around taking families that — that’s been their home — it’s just completely uprooting, forcibly displacing,” Tlaib said. “It’s something I struggle with because, like, we’re doing it all over again, right? This happened during the Nakba.”

Beinart said he and others on the call, including Pelavin, were moved by her sentiments.

“A lot of the Jewish community thinks like, ‘Palestinians hate us, and don’t think we’re people too,’” Pelavin said. “I think that’s so wrong, and being on these calls has just confirmed that for me.”

Ezra Beinart favors a single binational state — Tlaib is the only elected lawmaker who also takes that position —  and Pelavin said her views on Israel trended left. But while much of the organized American Jewish community has historically bristled at criticism of Israel, neither teen said that they were made to feel like a pariah in their Jewish milieus. 

“They think it’s cool that I do these types of things, but I think a lot of their goal is to just stay away from this topic around me, because they don’t really want to get into an argument about it,” Pelavin said of her peers.

And Beinart said holding a minority viewpoint hasn’t been a problem for him, either. “The kids in my school know who I am,” Ezra Beinart said. “No one’s mean to me. There are kids who share my views — a few, but not many.”

Despite the weighty subject matter, the conversation had an informal, friendly feel. Tlaib also wanted to learn more about the participants, but when she asked what colleges they were planning to attend, no one spoke up — until she noticed answers to her question piling up in the Zoom chat.

“Oh look there — you guys looove the chat!” she said. She then attempted to get her dog to hop on screen, but settled for showing the teens photos. 

Ezra Beinart said he was fine with Tlaib’s cooing and kvelling about the college plans.

“I’m not going to pretend that this is a group of well-educated adults,” he said. “This is a group of kids who don’t know about this stuff as well. And that’s why that’s why I’m doing it — it’s not supposed to be for people who are experts, right?”

The post Jewish teens, led by Ezra Beinart, are gathering on Zoom to meet prominent Palestinians 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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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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