(JTA) — Israel’s new government is wasting little time before following through on a central promise made by its leading politicians: to reshape the country’s judiciary and give lawmakers more power over it.
Yariv Levin, the newly appointed justice minister, on Wednesday announced planned legislation that would severely limit the Israeli Supreme Court’s ability to review and overturn laws and pledged to increase governmental control over the appointment of judges. Under his proposal, a majority of 61 Knesset members could override Supreme Court rulings, effectively ensuring that any governing coalition could override rulings it does not like.
Those moves are seen as overdue by leaders of the country’s right-wing parties, who think the judiciary has veered too far to the left. In recent years, the Supreme Court has banned Israeli construction on private Palestinian lands in the West Bank, forced the acceptance of non-Orthodox conversions and guaranteed some rights to gay couples — all of which the new government opposes.
The proposal’s critics, who include the political opposition as well as an array of liberal and nonpartisan groups in Israel and the Diaspora, say the moves would shatter Israel’s system of checks and balance and cut away at the country’s credential as the only authentic democracy in the Middle East.
“A country that removes basic democratic checks and balances and eviscerates the independence of the judiciary can no longer seriously be referred to as a full democracy,” the CEO of the New Israel Fund, Daniel Sokatch, said in a statement. He added, “The international community, including the United States government, should see this move for what it is — a lurch towards autocracy.”
“It is excruciating to see this government directly undermine the core values of democracy and religious freedom that we value so deeply,” said a statement by the Rabbinical Assembly, the Conservative movement’s rabbinical group.
A majority of Israelis believe that the Supreme Court should retain the right to strike down Knesset laws that conflict with the country’s “basic laws,” which are widely considered tantamount to a constitution, a poll conducted last month by the Israel Democracy Institute found. But the respondents were deeply divided by their religious orientation; 15% of haredi Orthodox Jews said the court should retain that right, while 76% of secular Israelis said so.
Yedidya Stern, the head of the Jewish People Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Jerusalem, said in a statement that the question of how the judiciary should be structured should not be subject to normal political decision making.
“This is a question that deserves to be discussed in a substantive manner, with a careful examination of the benefits and risks to the public relating to each of the proposals on their own merits,” said Stern, whose group does not typically criticize Israeli government leaders. “A process of politicization of the judicial system imperils its independence and must be opposed.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would support the legislation; he has campaigned against the judiciary since facing corruption charges, for which a trial is ongoing. The proposed changes come as the high court justices are set to debate a new law, opposed by the country’s attorney general, that allows people convicted of tax crimes to serve in the Cabinet. The law is designed to ensure a ministerial role for Aryeh Deri, who is currently serving a suspended sentence for tax fraud. Deri criticized Levin for unveiling the judicial reform proposal so close to his hearing.
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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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