(JTA) – The state of Arkansas has paid $500 it had promised to a Jewish doctor, after withholding the payment for months because of the doctor’s refusal to sign a pledge promising not to boycott Israel.
The payment came after public pressure on the state to process the payment. The doctor, a longtime pro-Palestinian activist, plans to donate the money to the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace.
Steve Feldman, a dermatologist at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, was entitled to the honorarium from the state after delivering a Zoom lecture in February to the University of Arkansas, Little Rock medical school. But Arkansas state law requires all public contractors to sign a pledge acknowledging they will not boycott Israel, which Feldman said conflicted with his religious and moral values.
The Arkansas law applies only to public contractors earning more than $1,000 in payments from the state, but officials had initially told Feldman that the mere act of adding him to the state’s vendor system would make him eligible for possible future payments that could bring his total beyond that number.
But in May, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin said he believed Feldman was entitled to the payment.
“The law does not apply to Mr. Feldman as this was an honorarium, not a contract, and it doesn’t meet the $1,000 threshold even if it were a contract,” he said in a statement to Newsweek. “In any event, he should be paid.”
Feldman told JTA he believes Griffin’s position on the issue helped expedite his payment, as he received an invitation to join the state’s vendor system shortly afterward. “Shortly after the news about it came out, they must have figured out that what they were doing was illegal,” Feldman said.
The execution of his payment was announced June 1 in a joint press release by Jewish Voice for Peace and the Council on American Islamic Relations.
“We are so grateful for Dr. Feldman’s generous donation to our work – and will use it to continue our efforts toward a future of justice, equality and freedom for Palestinians, and for all people,” Stefanie Fox, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said in the press release. Fox also praised Feldman for exercising “his constitutionally protected right to boycott.”
Arkansas’ law is one of dozens of state laws enacted in response to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement targeting Israel. Earlier this year, the law survived a legal challenge brought by the Arkansas Times, a local publication, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Similar laws in other states have been struck down by the courts for violating the First Amendment.
The laws’ supporters, including several pro-Israel groups, frame them as anti-discrimination laws that protect Jews and Israelis from being targeted for their religion or national origin. Some state legislators have borrowed the laws’ framework to bar state contractors from participating in other kinds of divestment campaigns, including against fossil fuels and the firearms industry.
Feldman added that his payment “hasn’t changed the mistreatment of Palestinian families yet, so I don’t feel very strongly about it one way or the other.” He gave his money to Jewish Voice for Peace because, he said, “I love those people. It’s one of those few Jewish organizations that, on this issue, is really following Jewish morality.”
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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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