(JTA) — Backers of a law that would bar the Democratic Republic of Congo’s only Jewish politician from becoming president are trying again to get it passed, in a move decried by Jewish leaders abroad.
The law, reintroduced to the African nation’s parliament in Kinshasa this week, would bar anyone without two Congolese parents from ascending to the presidency.
Its main effect would be to block Moise Katumbi from succeeding in his presidential bid underway now. Katumbi is the son of a Congolese woman from a local royal family and a Greek Jew, Nisim Soriano, who fled to what was then a Belgian colony during the Holocaust.
“The controversial bill on nationality has been considered by the opposition as a means of blocking the way for Moise Katumbi, the leading candidate in the 2023 presidential election and who is considered to have the best chance of defeating the incumbent president,” a spokesman for Katumbi told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
It’s not the first time Katumbi has come up against the bill, known as the Tshiani Law, after its proponent Noel Tshiani, a rival politician. Tshiani introduced a similar bill in 2021, when Katumbi was also running, citing concerns about foreign meddling in the country’s elections.
“Any mercenary could no longer slip to the top of the Congolese state,” Tshiani said in defense of his bill. On Twitter, he likened the legislation to a biblical command, specifically that in Deuteronomy 17:15, which states, ”You may not put a foreigner over you who is not your brother.”
Katumbi has lived all his life in the DRC and on his mother’s side is the great-grandson of a king of the local Lunda ethnic group.
He owns a range of companies in the mining, transportation and food-production sectors and is one of the richest men in the country. In 2016, the Economist called him “the second most powerful man in the Democratic Republic of Congo” after its then-president, Joseph Kabila.
As governor of the DRC’s southern Katanga province, he was wildly popular, increasing revenue in the region tenfold during his rule from 2007 to 2015 and overseeing similar jumps in access to water infrastructure and literacy rates.
Over the course of both his business and political career, Katumbi has maintained close ties with Israel, where his father ultimately moved. Katumbi visited the country frequently while his father was still alive and was once even suggested as a potential buyer of an Israeli soccer team, Maccabi Netanya. Katumbi already owns the DRC’s TP Mazembe team.
The bill has been criticized by those in and outside of the country, with human rights organizations calling it unconstitutional, fearing that it could reignite violence in the recently war-torn state. Elections are set for December, though the current president, Felix Tshisekedi, has warned that
“I am appalled by the proposed legislation that would disqualify a leading candidate from running for office based solely on their Jewish heritage.” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association, who has a close relationship with Katumbi.
“This is an egregious violation of human rights and a dangerous step backward for the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Margolin said. “I am sure Congolese citizens will fight against this unjust bill and ensure that all people are able to participate in the electoral process regardless of their background. I call on all who believe in justice and equality to unite in this crucial fight for the future of the DRC and the African continent as a whole.”
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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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