WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the top Democrat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is spearheading a letter from Democrats urging President Joe Biden to “use all diplomatic tools available” to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt his controversial legislation to sap the power of Israel’s top court.
The letter also opposes any potential Israeli annexation of West Bank territory and supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
The signers express “our deep concern regarding the planned changes to the structure of the Israeli judiciary, the fragile security situation in the West Bank, and the threat of partial or full annexation of areas that would most certainly be part of a future Palestinian state,” according to a copy that the Jewish Telegraphic Agency obtained before DeLauro’s deadline to obtain signatures. “We urge you to use all diplomatic tools available to prevent Israel’s current government from further damaging the nation’s democratic institutions and undermining the potential for two states for two peoples.”
The letter is notable for its alarmed tone. It also underscores Democratic concern at the direction of Netanyahu’s new governing coalition, which includes far-right politicians, and his plans to reform the country’s court system. The legislation being advanced by Netanyahu’s government would allow a majority of lawmakers to override Supreme Court decisions and would give the governing coalition full power over appointing the court’s judges. In the face of widespread protest of the plan, Israel’s president is urging a compromise.
The letter also addresses escalating violence in the West Bank, singling out Palestinian terrorist attacks on civilians and retaliatory Israeli military raids. More than a dozen Israeli civilians have been killed in terror attacks, and dozens of Palestinians have been killed in Israeli raids. Israel says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants, though a number of civilians have been killed as well, including a man who died amid a riot by Israeli settlers in the Palestinian village of Huwara following a Palestinian terror attack last month.
“We are profoundly concerned that the recent violence and increased tensions could spiral into a major conflict, despite the recent steps taken,” the letter says. “U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William J. Burns recently warned that Israel appears to be on the brink of confronting a third intifada.”
The letter also cites weeks of massive demonstrations in Israel against the planned judiciary reforms. It comes ahead of a visit to the United States by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right politician who is speaking on Sunday to Israel Bonds, which sells Israeli government bonds to investors abroad. Biden administration officials have said they will not meet with Smotrich.
DeLauro, who is from Connecticut, has long been close to the mainstream pro-Israel community, earning an endorsement last year from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s affiliated political action committee.
Among other senior Democrats signing the letter are Jewish members including Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.
Not all Democrats were pleased with the letter. Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Jared Moskowitz of Florida, who are both Jewish, released a joint statement that did not directly address the letter, but that cautioned lawmakers not to interfere at this juncture in Israel’s internal debates.
“Regardless of our personal views and concerns, Congress should not publicly intervene in ongoing negotiations of a key democratic ally,” their statement said. “Doing so, especially in a partisan way, could undermine those negotiations toward a positive outcome.”
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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