(JTA) — Rugby’s global governing body has determined that the South African Rugby Union’s decision to disinvite an Israeli team from an international competition last month was not discriminatory.
But the CEO of the Israeli team isn’t buying the argument that the cancelation had to do with security threats, as South Africa argued and World Rugby concluded.
“We expected World Rugby to take a closer look at the events leading up to the withdrawal of the invitation,” Tel Aviv Heat CEO Pete Sickle told JTA. “We still have not seen tangible evidence of credible and significant threats to public safety. We haven’t seen any evidence of SARU or South African security forces analyzing those threats before making this decision.”
The inquiry by the governing body followed South Africa Rugby’s announcement Feb. 3 that the Tel Aviv Heat team was no longer invited to a March 24 competition. The decision came after pressure from the South African BDS Coalition, an affiliate of the Palestinian BDS National Committee that promotes the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
At the time, South Africa Rugby’s CEO said that after listening to “the opinions of important stakeholder groups,” the decision had been made to disinvite Tel Aviv “to avoid the likelihood of the competition becoming a source of division, notwithstanding the fact that Israel is a full member of World Rugby.”
In response, major Jewish groups, led by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights, urged the U.S. team that was tapped to replace the Heat to withdraw from the tournament. The San Clemente Rhinos put out a statement condemning discrimination and saying the team “stands together with Tel Aviv Heat players and coaches” but did not withdraw.
Then, shortly after the tournament, following an investigation into the Israel Rugby Union’s charges of discrimination, World Rugby ruled that the decision had instead been made due to threats of violence, according to a letter obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
In the letter, World Rugby pointed to the public reaction of inviting an Israeli team to South Africa in the first place — including a single Facebook post warning of a “blood bath” at the tournament, and a statement by the BDS coalition claiming that the South Africa Rugby Union would “have blood on its hands” if the Heat participated.
“World Rugby is satisfied with the explanation provided by SA Rugby that the decision to withdraw the invitation to Tel Aviv Heat to participate in the Mzansi Challenge was based on concerns about an increased safety and security threat including the potential threats of violence, disruption and risks to the safety of stakeholders, together with concerns about the ability of SA Rugby to meet its obligations as an event organiser under the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act,” reads the letter, which is dated March 29.
South Africa’s department of sports, arts and culture had also released a brief statement in February supporting the decision to disinvite Israel, “to ensure a safe environment” at the tournament.
Jewish groups in South Africa have criticized World Rugby’s ruling, according to the South African Jewish Report.
A spokesperson for South African Friends of Israel said the South Africa Rugby Union “bent the knee to appease political extremists in South Africa who threatened to harm and incite violence should an Israeli team participate in the sport.”
Benji Shulman, the director of public policy at the South African Zionist Federation, called the decision “an attack on our sportsmen and women in South Africa.”
“World Rugby has now confirmed the threats of violence posed by political extremists — in this case, being the antisemitic BDS movement,” he said.
Sickle said the team and Israel Rugby made multiple requests to see evidence of significant public safety risks but did not receive a satisfactory response. “We remain unconvinced, due to a lack of specific evidence, that safety and security was the overriding factor in withdrawing the invitation,” he added.
Sickle said he can appreciate the security implications of hosting an international sports competition. Since SARU and World Rugby determined that safety was a concern, he and his team would “look forward to using the next year to work with SARU” and with local authorities to make the necessary arrangements to ensure that safety is not a concern for his team’s participation in next year’s tournament.
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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