(JTA) — In a landmark speech to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, on Monday, U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy didn’t mention the judicial reform legislation dividing Israel, instead focusing on what he said was the significant threat from business dealings with China.
McCarthy’s speech and comments took place on the opening day of the Knesset’s summer session, days after the country celebrated its 75th birthday and during considerable strife in the country over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-reaching proposals to weaken Israel’s court system. Netanyahu had suspended the advance of the reforms amid sweeping protests against them, in a pause that was due to end on Monday.
During a press conference after his speech, McCarthy offered a nod toward critics of the proposed legislation who seek to preserve the courts’ independence.
“Israel is their own nation. Israel can decide what they want to do,” McCarthy said. “But I mean, having democracy — you want to have a check and balance, you want to have separation of powers.”
The speech by McCarthy, a Republican, came as he leads a bipartisan delegation to the country days after it celebrated its 75th Independence Day. It also came amid tensions between Netanyahu and Biden, a Democrat, who has not yet invited Netanyahu to the White House.
In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom ahead of the speech, McCarthy chastised Biden for not inviting Netanyahu and said he would invite the prime minister to Washington if Biden did not.
But McCarthy was not at all partisan during his speech or afterwards, pointedly bringing the delegation of Democrats and Republicans into every photo-op. McCarthy spent more time discussing Chinese-Israeli relations, bringing tensions between Israel and the United States on the issue into public view.
“I strongly encourage Israel to further strengthen its oversight of foreign investment, particularly Chinese investment, building on the steps that you first took in 2019,” McCarthy said in his speech Monday, referring to an investment review board Israel launched that year under pressure from the Trump administration. “If we cooperate, then I’m confident we will meet the challenge and ensure a brighter future for both of our nations.”
McCarthy’s speech, the second ever by a U.S. House speaker to the Knesset, contained few surprises. He noted that Israeli pilots trained in his hometown of Bakersfield, California, before the country’s 1948 War of Independence. And he presented the Knesset with a copy of a House resolution passed overwhelmingly last week marking Israel’s 75th birthday. References to the establishment of a Palestinian state, which Netanyahu’s government opposes, were stripped out of the resolution, spurring criticism from Democrats who nonetheless voted for it.
The speaker also recommitted to fully funding current levels of defense assistance to Israel, assuaging concerns that across-the-board spending cuts passed by the House last week could affect the country.
“As long as I am speaker, America will continue to support full funding for security assistance in Israel,” he said.
And McCarthy also rejected attempts to isolate or boycott Israel, promoted peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors and called out shared rivals and enemies, especially Iran.
“We must always remain resolute in our commitment that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon,” McCarthy said.
Netanyahu, speaking before McCarthy, also noted the Iran threat and took care to say it was a concern shared by both Republicans and Democrats.
“The first and most urgent challenge is the joint effort by Israel and the U.S. to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” he said. Then, referring to the Israel Defense Forces, he added, “The IDF and the U.S. Armed Forces recently completed the largest military exercise in the history of Israel and for this I would like to thank the Biden administration.”
Another issue of bipartisan concern is Israel’s growing relationship to China. McCarthy inserted his warning about Israeli-Chinese ties into the portion of his speech praising U.S.-Israel technological cooperation, an endeavor that Israel considers critical to its security infrastructure.
Israel and Netanyahu particularly have cultivated ties with China and its massive market to advance sales of Israeli technology, and to invite Chinese investment in Israeli sectors. Netanyahu has in the past highlighted his efforts to bring China and Israel into each other’s orbit.
Those efforts have appalled leaders of both parties. One of the areas of consistency between the Trump and Biden administration has been a policy of constraining Chinese influence outside of Asia, as the country seeks inroads into Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. China concerns have been exacerbated in the United States in recent months by perceptions that China is cozying up to Russia in its war against Ukraine, and fears that China may be planning a similar action against Taiwan.
“We’ve seen successes of technological cooperation in so many areas,” McCarthy said. “Today, however, our innovation is at risk from a new threat: The Chinese Communist Party. While the CCP may disguise itself as promoters of innovation, in truth they act like thieves. We must not allow them to steal our technology.”
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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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