(New York Jewish Week) – Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Israeli consulate in New York yesterday to stand in solidarity with Israelis who have been protesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed changes to Israel’s judiciary, mere hours after a delay in the reforms was announced.
The protesters, who assembled on Second Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, carried Israeli flags, sang Hebrew songs and chanted “Democracy will stand” in between music and speeches from local rabbis and political leaders.
The rally was held the day after Asaf Zamir, the Israeli Consul General in New York, resigned, following Netanyahu’s firing of Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant. “The past 18 months as Israel’s Consul General in New York were fulfilling and rewarding, but following today’s developments, it is now time for me to join the fight for Israel’s future to ensure it remains a beacon of democracy and freedom in the world,” Zamir said in his resignation letter, which was posted to social media.
A majority of the crowd were Israelis living in New York, though cohorts from Park Slope’s Congregation Beth Elohim and supporters of T’ruah, The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, also showed up.
For Israelis, even those who have immigrated to New York, the moment is a crucial one: Even though the legislation has been put on hold until May, it was important to many in the crowd to nonetheless make their voices heard. Attending protests in New York is an opportunity to both show solidarity with friends and family in Israel, some said, as well as impart a sense of urgency on American Jews.
The New York Jewish Week spoke to some of the protesters about what inspired them to protest Israel’s government in New York on a rainy Monday afternoon:
Israel and Hanana, who declined to provide their last names, are Israelis who have been living in New York for the last year doing a housing exchange with an American family. “We are concerned about what is happening,” Israel said. “It’s disturbing and the country is turning into a dictatorship.”
The couple has not hashed out their plan for when their housing exchange ends. Israel feels that he has to go back to his country. As for Hanana, “I don’t want to go back,” she said. “I can’t live in a dictatorship.” She would like to move to somewhere like Greece or Cyprus, she said.
Hanana carried a Hebrew sign that read “Our hope is not yet lost,” a line from the Israeli national anthem. Israel’s sign read “It’s good to protest for your country,” which is a play on the Hebrew phrase, “It’s good to die for your country,” allegedly said by a Zionist activist who died defending a Jewish settlement in Palestine in 1920.
Shiran and Lior, who declined to provide their last names, have been in the United States for a year and half. Last week, they visited friends in Israel but didn’t have time to attend protests, so it was important to them to make their voices heard in New York. “We are married, so for us this has been a really big deal,” Shiran said. At this point, they are planning to stay in New York for good, they said.
“I think that this is going to destroy Israel if we don’t come out in the streets, and my children and grandchildren will not have a country if I’m not out here,” said Susan Lax, who splits her time between the Upper West Side and Tel Aviv.
The co-owner of Naot, an Israeli shoe company, Lax feels the threat on a personal and professional level. “We are shoes of peace. It’s part of what we do,” she said.
If the reforms pass and things continue to deteriorate, “they could come and say you can’t have non-Jews working for you,” she said. “They can destroy everything that the generation above me fought for.”
American support is crucial to the cause, Lax said, whether by visiting Israel or by attending protests like these. “With no Israel, Jews have nothing in the world,” she said. “By not going there, we’re telling them ‘you’re on your own.’”
For Lax, the worst thing Israeli and American Jews could do is to give up hope, or to ease pressure on the government now that the legislation has been put on pause. She’s planning to return to Israel in a week. “Do not despair,” she said. She carried a sign reading, “We must resistance.”
“A lot of American Jews are saying that it’s important to have a Jewish country so they have a refuge if something happens,” said Noa, who declined to provide her last name, who left Israel in 2014 after the Gaza War.
“But it won’t be the case soon,” she said. “Unless they act, unless they stop funding the government that is very far-right, they won’t have a refuge. They won’t have a place to go to if something happens.”
Noa criticized what she sees as the hypocrisy of American Jews, many of whom support the Israeli government no matter what. “They need to understand that next time they go to visit Israel, their wives might have to wear a head cover and men and women might be separated in many places, and maybe gay people won’t be able to live there,” she said there, presenting a worst case scenario should the haredi Orthodox parties continue to wield power in a right-wing government. “They really need to think about it and act accordingly.”
The Israeli government’s rightward shift confirmed her decision to move away, Noa said. Nonetheless, the country will always be her home. “My heart is still there,” she said. “But I don’t really see a future. It’s either dictatorship or democracy.”
Noa Osheroff, an Israeli who has lived in New York for eight years, is using this moment to fight for democracy and representation for both Israelis and Palestinians.
“A group of friends and I have decided to collaborate around the protests and create a more radical group,” Osheroff said. “I always joined demonstrations and was vocal about my opinions, but I don’t work for any political organizations and I can’t even say I’m a big activist.”
In recent weeks, though, it’s become increasingly important to her to make sure that Palestinian liberation is included in the call for democracy, as well as to call out the United States government for enabling Netanyahu’s policies. The sign she carried, “From the river the sea — democracy for all,” repurposes a slogan often used by the pro-Palestinian movement to call for a single democratic state — neither Jewish nor Palestinian — in what is currently Israel and the territories. “The protests are so Zionist,” she said. “It kind of bothered me, especially in the U.S., because the U.S. funds a lot of what’s going on in the settlements. People don’t necessarily see the connection, but what’s happening now is in part a result of the occupation.”
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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