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Republicans nix two-state solution language in resolution marking Israel’s 75th birthday



WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to congratulate Israel on its 75th birthday and to wish it well in making peace with other countries.

But the encouragement of peace deals did not extend to the Palestinians, in a breach with the language typical of U.S. lawmakers’ past Israeli Independence Day resolutions — and, insiders say, a departure from the language originally drafted for this one.

Democrats pressed for the inclusion of the Palestinians in a resolution focused on peace-making between Israel and its Arab neighbors, but Republicans rejected the language.

The behind-the-scenes struggle to even mention the Palestinians reflects how far apart the parties have drifted on Israel issues, with the Republicans joining Israel’s hard-right government in refusing to countenance Palestinian statehood.

It also undercuts a bid to show bipartisan comity on Israel issues, as the top House Republican, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and top Democrat, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, are visiting the country to mark its 75th anniversary.

“We worked diligently with Foreign Affairs Committee Republican staff to find a way to maintain precedent and maintain two- state language when honoring Israel’s birthday which has been done for decades,” said a Democratic senior staffer who remained anonymous to speak candidly. “Unfortunately Republican leadership could not accept two-state language and we were forced to move ahead with a ‘happy birthday.’”

The resolution passed Tuesday, the eve of Israel’s Independence Day, 401-19, with all but 18 Democrats voting for the resolution. It “encourages the expansion and strengthening of the Abraham Accords to urge other nations to normalize relations with Israel and ensure that existing agreements reap tangible security and economic benefits for the citizens of those countries and all peoples in the region.”

But in an unusual and bitter caveat after the vote, leading Jewish Democrats joined a statement denouncing the GOP for cutting out the Palestinians.

“Unlike previous resolutions honoring Israel’s birthday and achievements, this resolution, principally drafted by Republicans, broke the longstanding bipartisan tradition of acknowledging the importance of achieving a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians,” said the statement issued after the House approved the resolution. “We remain resolute in our aspiration to help Israel find peace with all its neighbors, including and particularly the Palestinians.”

Signing the statement were Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and eight top Jewish Democrats: Jerry Nadler of New York, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, Kathy Manning of North Carolina, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, and Jan Schakowsky and Brad Schneider of Illinois.

Phillips, Manning, Wasserman Schultz and Schneider are all known for their willingness to take on fellow Democrats they feel are too critical of Israel and for crossing party lines to promote Israel. Manning and Schneider were the Democratic lead sponsors of the resolution. It is highly unusual for the authors of a resolution to complain afterwards that it has been altered. (The Republican lead sponsors were Michael McCaul of Texas, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, and Ann Wagner of Missouri.)

An insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, described for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency the evolution of the resolution. Early this year, pro-Israel groups approached Democrats and Republicans to draft a bipartisan resolution marking Israel’s 75th birthday.

Lawmakers from both sides saw that as a no-brainer, despite recent turmoil in Israel. Massive protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed radical changes to the courts system have filled the streets for weeks, and Israeli-Palestinian violence has intensified.

Staffers, working in a bipartisan fashion, resurrected the language from a resolution in 2018 marking Israel’s 70th anniversary, sponsored that year by Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican. Staffers from both parties thought the Foxx resolution was a good template.

That resolution included what was by then boilerplate language, supporting “a negotiated settlement leading to a sustainable two-state solution with the democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a demilitarized, democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security.”

There was a minor wrinkle: Republicans no longer want purely commemorative resolutions.

At the outset of this congressional session, Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana banned any resolution that “expresses appreciation, commends, congratulates, celebrates, recognizes the accomplishments of, or celebrates the anniversary of, an entity, event, group, individual, institution, team or government program; or acknowledges or recognizes a period of time for such purposes.” He allowed exceptions for resolutions that call “on others (such as a foreign government) to take a particular action.”

So the staffers agreed to frame the 75th anniversary resolution around a topic everyone likes, the Abraham Accords, the 2020 normalization deals between Israel and four Arab states. The Trump administration brokered the deals, and in a rare example of continuity, the Biden administration is committed to expanding them.

In addition to the two-state boilerplate language, a draft resolution circulated that mentioned bringing in the Palestinians to the Abraham Accords. That was not seen as problematic, since it was an explicit aim of the accords as envisioned by former President Donald Trump and his son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner.

But after about a month, the Republican leadership came back, according to this account, with a clear instruction: Don’t mention the Palestinians, at all — even though centrist pro-Israel groups, chief among them the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, were lobbying for the two-state language to remain in the resolution. (AIPAC declined to comment.)

The Jewish organization most consistently influential during the Trump presidency was the Zionist Organization of America, which rejects two states, and top conservative pro-Israel influencers in 2016 persuaded the party to remove two states from its platform.

The resolution, which also upholds defense assistance to Israel and bilateral U.S.-Israel cooperation in defense and civilian spheres, mentions every peace and normalization agreement Israel has signed — with Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco — except for the 1993 Oslo agreements with the Palestinians.

The top Democratic staffer said that of course the party wanted to wish Israel well — but that those well-wishes were wrapped into concerns that it remain a Jewish and democratic state.

“We were happy to say happy birthday on the floor and we will continue to advocate for peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” the staffer said.

McCarthy’s office did not respond to requests for comment. McCaul’s office in its response did not address questions about why the two-state outcome or the Palestinians did not appear in the final version. 

“The United States and Israel have stood together as partners since Israel’s founding 75 years ago to overcome shared challenges and global threats,” McCaul said in a statement to JTA. “Together, we’ve achieved major milestones, such as the signing of the historic Abraham Accords. I look forward to continuing the longstanding tradition of friendship and partnership between our two countries.”

AIPAC praised the resolution. “The resolution recognizes that a strong and secure Israel is a vital pillar of America’s national security policy in the Middle East,” it said in a statement.

Liberal Jewish Middle East policy groups decried the omission of the Palestinians. “The decision to strip support for the Two-State Solution from the text requires that we ask exactly what ‘shared values’ is Kevin McCarthy referring to?” said Americans for Peace Now. “And more importantly, it begs the question, what future solution to the conflict do House Republicans support?”

J Street said it would lobby the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority, “to introduce a resolution that takes a different approach, consistent with the bipartisan commitment to a two-state solution that ensures a peaceful future for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

The post Republicans nix two-state solution language in resolution marking Israel’s 75th birthday 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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