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Netanyahu defends his pending far-right coalition: ‘Two hands firmly on the steering wheel’



(JTA) – On the cusp of forming a new government, incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his inclusion of far-right groups in his coalition amid domestic and global criticism for his alliances with extremist figures.

“They’re joining me, I’m not joining them,” Netanyahu said in an NPR interview Thursday during the final stretch of his coalition talks, which are currently set for a Dec. 21 deadline. “I’ll have two hands firmly on the steering wheel. I won’t let anybody do anything to LGBT [people] or to deny our Arab citizens their rights or anything like that.”

Netanyahu specifically defended his expected decision to bestow Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, with the newly created title of national security minister, a post which would give him control over Israel’s police forces. Ben-Gvir has previously called for the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel and has a long history of inciting political violence in the country. 

Former ministers and police chiefs have said that Ben-Gvir would turn Israel into a “police state” under such expanded powers; at least one former police chief said he would sooner resign than work for him. But Netanyahu said the lawmaker has changed since his past views.

“He’s modified a lot of his views since then,” Netanyahu said of Ben-Gvir, insisting that “a position of responsibility in governance” would moderate the politician’s stances. “I have to say that with power comes responsibility.” 

Netanyahu said he granted Ben-Gvir the role of head of police because “the erosion of internal security in Israel” is “a big, big issue” that Ben-Gvir had run on and noted that the Israeli Supreme Court had previously ruled that Ben-Gvir was eligible to be a lawmaker despite his extremist past. 

Ben-Gvir’s party won six seats in the Knesset in November’s elections. Liberal Jewish groups have expressed alarm over the prospect of Netanyahu working with him, arguing that an alliance with such a figure could cause a rift in U.S.-Israel relations, damage Israel’s international standing and alienate American Jews, who are largely liberal.

Netanyahu’s comment on LGBT rights in Israel could refer to his negotiations with another far-right lawmaker, Religious Zionism party head Bezalel Smotrich. The Knesset is currently engaged in a legislative blitz to grant expanded powers in the next government that would likely go to Smotrich, who has compared gay marriage to incest. Under the agreement, Smotrich — whose party calls for an increase in the construction and recognition of Israeli settlements — would gain a new role in the defense ministry that would grant him oversight over the Israeli government’s actions in the West Bank

Smotrich also backs several religious citizenship proposals opposed by Diaspora Jewry, including ending the Law of Return that grants Israeli citizenship to anyone with demonstrable Jewish ancestry and ending the country’s recognition of non-Orthodox conversions to Judaism. Israeli media has reported that at least some versions of these policies appear to be on the table for Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Israel’s attorney general has called the proposed new laws an attack on the country’s democracy, leading Ben-Gvir to denounce her.

Netanyahu has the option of requesting up to an additional four days for coalition talks from Israeli President Isaac Herzog, which would move his deadline to Dec. 25.

In the NPR interview, Netanyahu also continued to assert that a peace deal with Palestinians would only be possible if Israel retains control over the region’s “security” and reiterated his opposition to an Iranian nuclear deal. 

The post Netanyahu defends his pending far-right coalition: ‘Two hands firmly on the steering wheel’ appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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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.

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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.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

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.)

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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.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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