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Shaming Biden and slashing budgets: Republicans and Democrats accuse each other of dissing Israel



WASHINGTON (JTA) — As the 2024 election gets into gear, both Republicans and Democrats are again using Israel as a wedge issue. 

A lot has changed in both countries since the last presidential election, but in the halls of Congress, the battle over Israel is playing out in familiar ways. 

Republicans have accused President Joe Biden of snubbing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he has yet to invite to the White House amid policy disagreements. Democrats, meanwhile, say that the Republicans’ proposed spending cuts endanger foreign aid to Israel.

And leaders of both parties have indicated that, even amid a high-states fight over the debt ceiling, displaying support for Israel remains a priority. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House speaker, took time this week to lead a bipartisan delegation to Israel, where he addressed the Knesset. 

That was just a week after Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic minority leader from New York, led his own delegation to the country, and laid a wreath to mark its Memorial Day. Also visiting the country recently to demonstrate his support: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to launch his bid for the GOP presidential nomination this month.

Hakeem Jeffries, center, the New York Democrat who is the House minority leader, lays a wreath on Israel’s Memorial Day in Latrun, Israel, April 25, 2023. (Office of Hakeem Jeffries)

McCarthy’s speech in Israel’s parliament was nonpartisan, but his remarks to reporters were less so. McCarthy told Israel Hayom, a right-leaning tabloid, that Biden was wrong not to invite Netanyahu to Washington, saying Netanyahu has waited “too long” since returning to office in December.

“If that doesn’t happen, I’ll invite the prime minister to come meet with the House,” McCarthy said. “He’s a dear friend, as a prime minister of a country that we have our closest ties with.”

Amir Ohana, the speaker of Knesset and a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, had hinted that his invitation to McCarthy was a sort of rebuke to Biden. The U.S. president has indicated that he is not interested in seeing Netanyahu until the Israeli leader limits the influence of his far-right coalition partners, and walks back his controversial effort to weaken Israel’s judiciary. Biden has said the judicial overhaul would undercut Israel’s democracy.

As McCarthy was getting ready to leave Israel, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a senior Democrat, was telling colleagues that Republican budget maneuvers were imperiling U.S. assistance to Israel.  

Wasserman Schultz’s warning came after House Republicans, voting on party lines, passed a debt limit bill that would curb and then reduce government spending. What, exactly, the bill proposes to cut and keep is not clear. But Wasserman Schultz, a Jewish representative from South Florida, said that the bill’s language mandates cuts across all non-defense spending, including foreign aid. That means, she said, that the $3.3 billion Israel gets annually in defense assistance could be reduced by as much as $726 million.

“That puts Israel’s security at risk,” Wasserman Schultz told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Without any specificity or explicit protection we can’t be sure that Israel is safe.”

McCarthy has pitched the debt limit bill as an opening gambit: It has no chance of advancing as is in the Democratic-led Senate, and McCarthy has said he will get to specifics once negotiations start. Legislation is needed to lift the amount the government is able to borrow, or it could risk a default on its debt.

On Sunday, a McCarthy spokesperson told JTA that security assistance to Israel would remain untouched, and McCarthy made the pledge explicit in his Knesset speech the following day. “As long as I am Speaker, America will continue to support full funding for security assistance in Israel,” he said.

In some ways, this week’s debate mirrors the way Israel was discussed in 2011, the last time a Democratic president was up for reelection as Republicans controlled the House. Back then, Republicans chided President Barack Obama for being insufficiently friendly to Israel, while Democrats warned that Republican spending cuts would harm aid to Israel. 

But Wasserman Schultz said that in one respect, that year’s Republican spending bill was not as risky for Israel. Before the 2010 election,Rep. Eric Cantor, a Jewish Republican, pledged that Israel spending was sacrosanct, and the Republicans’ subsequent bill said that aid to Israel would not be reduced.

“They have nothing in that bill with specificity that ensures that foreign aid to Israel will be protected,” Wasserman Schultz said regarding this year’s spending bill.

Wasserman Schultz hasn’t been the only one to seek assurances that aid to Israel would be left alone. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby, has also asked that Israel cuts be taken off the table.

“We are continuing our work with congressional leaders to ensure full funding of security assistance to Israel, without additional conditions,” Marshall Wittmann, AIPAC’s spokesman, told JTA.  “This is a top legislative priority, as it is in the security interests of the U.S and our ally Israel, and we are pleased that many members of Congress have already written senior members of the Appropriations Committee in support of this funding.” 

Wasserman Schultz said that while she welcomed McCarthy’s reassurance on Israel, she worries that Republican cuts could impact foreign aid overall. AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups have also said that foreign aid generally — not just to Israel — is essential to preserving U.S. influence internationally.

“Words matter but the actions in the House Republican Default on America bill that passed the House doesn’t match the rhetoric,” she said in a text message on Monday, using a derisive name for the Republican bill. “But even if his Caucus allows him to follow through on those words, the drastic cuts called for in the Default on America Act would decimate support for our partners and diplomatic efforts in the region and undercut Israel’s overall security.”

Asked  in Jerusalem about the debt limit negotiations, McCarthy said that in at least one respect, he and the prime minister were in the same boat.

“The president still hasn’t talked to me,” he said, just hours before Biden invited him to the White House to launch debt limit negotiations. “I’m a little like Netanyahu.”

The post Shaming Biden and slashing budgets: Republicans and Democrats accuse each other of dissing Israel 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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