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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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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25

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A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.

Ben Carr

Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg

Marty Morantz

Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed

Gustavo Zentner

Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs

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