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Netanyahu vows more active role in Israel’s judiciary fight following a day of tense protests



(JTA) — After a day of raucous protests, arrests and clashes in the street protesting the Israeli government’s controversial judicial overhaul, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a televised speech encouraging Israeli unity, pledging to protect minority rights — and vowing that the first major piece of the overhaul plan would still pass next week.

Netanyahu’s speech followed a “National Day of Paralysis” Thursday, in which protesters amassed in large cities across Israel, where they blocked major roads and were met with mounted police and water cannons, as they have at previous protests.

More than 100 protesters were arrested, including Shikma Schwartzman-Bressler, a physicist who is one of the leaders of the protest movement, according to video posted by Israeli journalist Tal Schneider. Another video shared by Schneider showed a former cabinet member and Labor Party politician, Omer Bar-Lev, getting pushed by police at a protest. Demonstrations stretched into the night following Netanyahu’s speech, as well.

Netanyahu’s address, which took a more conciliatory tone than previous remarks he’s made on the subject, followed reports of dissent within his own party, and following a morning in which his government passed the first of several laws that would limit the power of the Supreme Court. The one approved Thursday specifically bars the court from forcing the prime minister into taking a leave of absence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen during a discussion and a vote in the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, March 22, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Opponents of the reform are not traitors and supporters of the reform are not fascists,” he said. “The vast majority of Israeli citizens, across the political spectrum, love our country, and want to protect our democracy. … I am working to reach a solution. I am attentive to the claims of the other side.”

He added, “We intend, and I intend, to anchor individual rights in law. We will ensure the basic rights of all citizens of Israel: Jews and non-Jews, secular and religious, women, LGBT, everyone — without exception. … We intend to propose clear legislation clear on this subject. I will personally make sure that that happens.”

But Netanyahu defended the overhaul plan as “a strengthening of democracy” that brings Israel’s judicial system in line with the legal systems of democracies such as the United States. He cited remarks by Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who has opposed parts of the overhaul plan but said recently that it will not turn Israel “into an autocratic country.”

Netanyahu said his government would still bring the first major piece of the legislation — which gives the coalition control over two Supreme Court appointments per term — to the floor of parliament next week as planned.

“In all the democracies, including the United States, elected officials are those who choose judges,” Netanyahu said. “Is the United States not a democracy? Is New Zealand not a democracy? Is Canada not a democracy?”

(Several critics of Netanyahu’s plan say that the United States’ system is different and has protections and checks and balances that Israel’s governmental system lacks.)

Israelis face off during a protest against the Israeli government’s planned judicial overhaul, in Bnei Brak, March 23, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The protests — which included a demonstration in Bnai Brak, a haredi Orthodox city — came shortly after Israel’s government passed the first piece of a string of legislation aimed at significantly limiting the power of Israel’s Supreme Court. The law, which insulates Netanyahu from court-ordered restrictions related to his ongoing trial for corruption, was approved by a bare majority of lawmakers at 6 a.m. on Thursday after a night of fierce debate.

It bars the Supreme Court from ordering a prime minister to take a leave of absence, and says that a prime minister can be removed only if he or she is physically or mentally incapacitated, and only if 75% of government ministers or Knesset lawmakers approve of the decision.

The change appears to open the door for Netanyahu to play a more assertive role in the fight over the broader package of judicial reform bills, which would sap the Supreme Court of much of its power and independence. Israel’s attorney general had ordered Netanyahu to constrain his involvement in the debate over the overhaul because of a conflict of interest related to his ongoing trial. Netanyahu has repeatedly defended the overhaul in public remarks, and with this law on the books, the court will not be able to remove him from office for violating the gag order.

“Tonight I tell you, my friends, citizens of Israel: No more,” Netanyahu said in his speech. “I’m coming in.”

The post Netanyahu vows more active role in Israel’s judiciary fight following a day of tense protests 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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