TEL AVIV (JTA) — Yaniv, a resident of Tel Aviv, has lost count of how many protests he’s been to during the past three months. But on Monday afternoon, he headed once again to Kaplan Street, the urban artery that has become ground zero of the anti-government demonstrations, to demonstrate once again.
Israel’s current rupture, said Yaniv, 34, is the “biggest crisis in my lifetime.”
“We’ll keep going until something changes,” he said. “They left us no choice. The damage has been done.”
Week after week, Yaniv and tens of thousands of other Israelis have filled the streets of Tel Aviv to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed overhaul of the country’s judiciary — which would sap the Supreme Court of much of its power and influence. Then, on Sunday night, massive protests again took shape to oppose Netanyahu’s firing of his defense minister, who called for a pause on the legislation.
Now, the following day, the protesters came with a different feeling: that their activism might actually succeed, at least in the short term. After people gathered in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and elsewhere, Netanyahu announced that he would pause the legislation to allow time for dialogue. Several of his ministers had already called for him to do just that.
But even as the campaign to stall the legislation was poised to achieve an at least temporary victory, protesters were not in a celebratory mood. They vowed to continue demonstrating against what some described as Netanyahu’s broader authoritarian impulses.
“You see how the liberal voice that has been missing for so long is returning to the street and has become the mainstream,” said Ben Luria, a resident of Jaffa protesting in Tel Aviv. “It looks like they’ve succeeded in passing the message across.”
But for Luria, that success doesn’t translate into any desire to ease the pressure. “You can’t deny that this is no longer just a question of Bibi being Bibi, this is a dictator in the making,” he added, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “We need to put the line somewhere.”
Even as Israelis were glued to their TV screens, waiting to hear Netanyahu announce a suspension of the legislation, Daria, who immigrated to Israel with her family from what is now Russia, did not pin her hopes on Netanyahu changing course.
“I don’t think that even if they stop this legislation, they will stop anything else,” said Daria, who came to the protest with Yaniv and, like him, declined to give her last name. “Even if they say they’ll postpone until Pesach or for forever, that doesn’t mean that we stop protesting what this government is doing.”
Sunday night’s protests were followed by a countrywide general strike. Blocked streets and canceled bus routes in downtown Tel Aviv meant that a 20-minute journey to a high-risk pregnancy clinic on Monday instead took an hour and a half for Natalie Solomon, who is eight-and-a-half months pregnant. She said she hoped Netanyahu would concede and spare Israelis further disruption.
“Our country is falling apart,” she said, expressing her hope that an end to the political standoff is near. “I really hope Bibi backs down today, that’s the only option. … We care about democracy but we really just care about the health of our baby.
At the end of the day it really does disrupt day-to-day lives.”
Despite being on the cusp of their first major victory, protesters said the potential respite offered by Netanyahu would be a minor gesture, not one that could overcome the hard feelings that have built up over the past three months.
Justin Jacobs, an immigrant to Israel from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said Israel has “turned a corner” after Sunday night’s protests.”So, [there’s] a glimmer of hope that we’ll go back to the status quo, which to me remains not good enough,” he said. “But not good enough is still better than horrifying.”
Others were less optimistic. “My feeling, the feeling of my parents, my grandparents, [is] that there’s no future here, I don’t know if I’ll raise kids here,” said Yotam Weingrad.
Like Weingrad, Daria, recalling her family’s experience, is also considering her future in the Jewish state.
“I grew up in a family with intimate knowledge of what it feels like to live under oppression, and I feel like it’s our duty to do whatever we can to prevent it,” she said. “But if push comes to shove, if nothing’s going to change, I’ll make the same decision my parents did — my kids aren’t going to live in a dictatorship.”
For those not emotionally invested in the Israeli crisis, the streets of Tel Aviv on Monday provided a rare experience, and a sense of uncertainty. Jennifer, a tourist from Utah visiting Israel with her two daughters, Holly and Diana, wanted to know if “it is going to get scary” and wondered if they’d be able to get back to the United States, as airports had closed due to the general strike.
“We’ve never been to this part of the world so we’re kind of like ‘Wow,’ just taking in everything,” said Diana. “We don’t know what it’s like without the protests, and we’re like, ‘This is Tel Aviv. It’s a lot.’”
Support for the protests isn’t unanimous across Tel Aviv, a bastion of left-wing politics in Israel. Josh Eidelshtein called the protests “hypocritical,” and blamed them for fanning the flames of conflict.
“What if the protesters were right-wingers, Orthodox Jews, or Palestinians?” he said. “Would their strategies still be OK? There is too much hate being bred here, and it’s as if the collective stress and anxiety this country has lived on for so long has been set aflame. The same people who went out to vote [for the left] are now trying to work against the system because they didn’t get what they wanted.”
Khalil, who originally hails from the Arab village of Ein Hawd in Israel’s north, and has lived in Tel Aviv for 50 years, also opted to stay away from the protests, which he felt did not speak for him.
“The Arabs are a minority, what do they have to do with these protests?” Khalil said as he walked his dog near a giant yellow sign reading “Nonstop Democracy,” painted by the Tel Aviv municipality on the boardwalk.
“Bibi has done good things but now he’s silent. This is a man who knows how to speak,” Khalil said. Then, referring to Netanyahu’s coalition partners, he added, “He’s not the king of Israel anymore. He made big mistakes by taking those criminals into the government with him. They want to throw out all the Arabs.”
Also sitting out the protests was Meir Dayan, who counts himself among the supporters of Netanyahu’s proposed judicial reform. He is especially in favor of the legislation that was due to be brought for a final vote on Monday, which would have increased the governing coalition’s control over Supreme Court appointments. But Dayan added that he didn’t appreciate the way Netanyahu attempted to pass the measures into law.
“The way they went about it was reckless,” he said. “Change to heavy organizational processes — because this is what this basically is, after all — doesn’t happen with legislation, it happens with people. It must be bottom-up and from a place of education, not ignorance.”
Dayan predicted that Netanyahu will halt the legislation now, and then in the summer months “when the left are overseas,” he will return it to the Knesset floor.
Roughly four miles away from the main protest, a smaller demonstration coalesced near Jaffa’s clocktower, a landmark at the entrance to Tel Aviv’s older counterpart. At this protest, children as young as 5 chanted “Shame!” and “Save Democracy!” while their parents stood to the side.
“Here the adults are quiet so the children are taking the lead. It’s exciting,” said Gavri, 10.
There are a few things he’d like to bring about in Israeli society: the failure of the judicial overhaul, as well as an end to fighting between Jews and Arabs. Like the adults protesting across the city, he vowed not to give up.
“I will be here until the end,” he said. “I hope it won’t be a long time.”
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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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