WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Biden administration has joined the chorus of American voices criticizing Israeli Diaspora Minister Amichai Chikli.
A photo making a face at a pro-Israel parade in New York City, and his unapologetic defense of the incident, is evidence that he is out of touch with the U.S. Jewish Diaspora, a senior Biden administration official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“The fact that a senior Israeli official came to the United States and did not have a single public meeting with the American Jewish community, and the fact [that] his only public interaction is to flip someone off or ask them to smile is telling,” said the official, who deals extensively with Israeli dignitaries.
The official requested anonymity because of executive branch rules that prohibit speaking by name without authorization. His comments are the latest in a series of statements from the Biden administration expressing disapproval of the Israeli government’s policies or the conduct of its senior officials.
During his visit to the United States for the Celebrate Israel Parade on June 4, Chikli had a number of meetings with the leadership of Jewish groups in Washington and in New York. None was open to the public, and Chikli changed the location of the Washington meeting to avoid protesters. Other Israeli ministers also faced protests during recent visits to the United States.
Chikli did appear before a couple of larger audiences. He was one of several Israeli officials to march in the parade, which drew an estimated 40,000 people, and also spoke at a conference in New York hosted by the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli newspaper.
At the parade, Chikli was photographed making what appeared to many to be an obscene gesture toward a group protesting the Israeli government. He and his staff said he did not mean to make the gesture and said he was signaling to the protesters to smile.
The Biden administration official was especially incensed by Chikli’s defense of the incident in an appearance on Monday night on Israel TV, when Chikli called his critics’ tweets about the photograph “fake news.” He did not say the photograph itself was altered in any way.
“Blaming the photographer shows how much he does not understand the American Jewish Diaspora,” the official said. “His comments have ramifications. The Biden administration is watching.”
A spokesperson for Chikli declined to comment on the Biden administration official’s remarks.
Jacob Kornbluh, the Forward reporter who took the photo, defended its authenticity in a Twitter thread, and wrote that Chikli has accused him of “lashon hara,” or the Jewish concept about slander. The image “was not photoshopped and not taken out of context,” Kornbluh wrote.
The photo has become fodder for Chikli’s critics, who have circulated it widely online as evidence of his disdain for protesters who oppose Israel’s government and its efforts to weaken the judiciary. Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s parliamentary opposition, tweeted the photo and wrote, “This government never ceases to embarrass us internationally.”
Chikli’s appointment as Diaspora minister has antagonized some liberal segments of American Jewry because of his past statements deriding the Reform movement and the LGBTQ community. In his appearance on Monday he called J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East lobbying group, “hostile” to Israel and “not important.”
Israel’s governing coalition, which took office in December and includes far-right lawmakers, has repeatedly butted heads with the Biden administration. President Joe Biden and other officials have come out against the government’s efforts to weaken the judiciary, in addition to condemning moves toward settlement expansion in the West Bank and “provocative” conduct from a government minister. Biden has yet to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House and said in late March that he would not extend an invitation “in the near term.”
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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