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‘The gun is on the table’: Both sides of Israel’s debate say that a constitutional crisis is coming

(JTA) — In a country that is deeply divided, where attending anti-government protests has become a weekly ritual for many, at least one idea still unites the right and left: Israel appears to be hurtling toward a constitutional crisis.

The crisis — which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed a “governmental breakdown” during a recent visit to Germany — would flow from legislation Netanyahu is pushing that would overhaul Israel’s judiciary. The proposal — which critics say threatens Israel’s democratic character — would increase the coalition’s control over the appointment of Supreme Court judges, and would enable Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to override court decisions with a simple majority. 

A constitutional crisis occurs when a country faces an unsolvable dispute between competing branches of government. Countries have recovered from constitutional crises in the past — the United States has had several over the centuries, including multiple ones related to the leadup to the Civil War and its aftermath — but the process can be difficult, and mistrust long-lasting.

In Israel’s case, what happens if the Knesset passes the judicial legislation, the Supreme Court strikes it down, and the Knesset doesn’t abide by that decision? Does the court or Knesset hold final authority?

However that question is answered, just getting to that point would represent a dramatic breakdown in a 75-year-old democracy. “The very idea that the government might not comply, might ignore the Supreme Court’s decision, would be an unprecedented crisis,” said Michal Saliternik, a law professor at Netanya Academic College.

In that dangerous moment, some Israelis see opportunity. In a perhaps ironic twist, Israel is on the precipice of a constitutional crisis but doesn’t actually have a constitution. It’s a risky bet, but a battle between the court and the coalition, said international law scholar Tamar Megiddo, might just force Israel into the long and arduous process of writing a governing document and figuring out how to balance the country’s competing authorities. 

“The entire constitutional system here is held together by duct tape,” said Megiddo, who teaches at the College of Law and Business outside Tel Aviv. “It’s ridiculous. We have no protection of our constitutional regime, no protection of our separation of powers, no protection of checks and balances and no protection of human rights. The only reason this functioned for the past 75 years is because there was good faith.”

She added, “I think a lot of people view the current constitutional moment, or the realistically likely constitutional crisis, as also an opportunity for fixing everything that’s broken in the system.”

When asked how a clash between the government and courts could come to a head, those scholars and others all individually sketched out versions of the same scenario: The government passes a law giving itself control over judicial appointments, the court strikes down the law — and the government appoints new judges anyway. When those judges arrive for their first day of work, should the security guards let them in? Who should the guards obey — the government that appointed the judges, or the courts that declared their appointment illegal?

While that question is being debated, the courts may not be able to hear cases at all.

“At the end of the day, the state needs to function,” Saliternik said. “The courts have work to do. If the judges can’t enter their chambers, it will definitely impact everyone. It’ll be like a third world country in which institutions don’t function.”

The law on judicial appointments may be passed next week, and for rank-and-file Israelis, both Saliternik and Megiddo said, this question would hardly be theoretical. If Israel’s system of government descends into crisis, it could lead to a downgrade in the country’s credit rating and an economic downturn that ordinary citizens feel in their pockets. And given how invested Israelis have become in the face of the judicial reform — protesting in the streets by the hundreds of thousands — it’s unlikely they’ll ignore what ensues if and when it passes. Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who has a reputation for congeniality, gave a pained speech last week warning of the potential for civil war.

“If the court issues a ruling and the government does not comply, then the Israeli public will say, ‘This is the ultimate proof that this is not a democracy anymore,’” Saliternik said. “I say this with trepidation, but if there’s an open battle between the Supreme Court and the Knesset, it could result in street violence.”

Megiddo said that even the possibility of such a crisis has normalized tactics that were once on the fringe, such as refusal to perform military service, a duty seen as sacrosanct across much of Jewish Israeli society. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reportedly warned that the possibility of mass refusal to serve could cause him to leave his post. On Tuesday, a group of military reservists said they plan to recruit tens of thousands more who will pledge to shirk reserve duty if the legislation goes through.

“People who refuse service were considered, in the Israeli public, to be a very extreme minority, and now it’s mainstream to say that people won’t serve the military for a dictatorship,” Megiddo said. “It’s unbelievable how mainstream saying that at the moment is, and that has long-term impact.”

Both supporters and opponents of the legislation in the Knesset are treating a constitutional crisis as a real possibility. The only thing they disagree about is who will be to blame — and both sides appear to be raising the stakes, vowing either to disobey government decisions, or disregard the court.

“The security situation is troubling,” said former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, an opponent of Netanyahu, in a speech last week referencing escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and urging Netanyahu to pause the court legislation. “Don’t drag us into an irresponsible constitutional crisis during a security crisis.”

Netanyahu’s allies, unsurprisingly, say it is the opponents of the reform — and the justices of the court themselves — who would be responsible for a constitutional crisis, should the court strike down the law. 

Striking down the reform legislation would be a “doomsday weapon,” wrote Dror Eydar, a columnist for the pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom, in a piece titled “Inviting a constitutional crisis.” “This striking down would constitute a coup d’etat.” 

(Another column four days later in the same publication, however, urged a compromise on the judicial reform in order to avert a constitutional crisis. That piece was written by Miriam Adelson, whose husband Sheldon — the late billionaire philanthropist — founded and funded the paper.)

Netanyahu’s coalition members are still worried enough about the prospect of a constitutional crisis that they’ve agreed to what they refer to as a “softening” of one piece of the legislation. Instead of giving the coalition total control over Supreme Court appointments, the new text of the bill would let the coalition control its first two judicial appointments.

“There’s no doubt that the change we made prevents any real claim that can create a constitutional crisis,” said Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who is spearheading the legislation, on an Israeli news show on Monday. 

A view of the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem. (Eddie Gerald via Getty Images)

But then he threw down the gauntlet: If the court still overturns the law, Levin said, “That would cross every red line. We definitely wouldn’t accept it.”

Responding to that claim, Yair Lapid, the leader of the parliamentary opposition, said that if the government disobeys the court, citizens should disobey the government. 

“That’s it, the masks are off. The gun is on the table,” Lapid tweeted. “The real prime minister, Yariv Levin, is drawing us into total chaos and a constitutional crisis we won’t be able to come back from. If the justice minister is calling on the government not to obey the law, why should the citizens of Israel obey the government?”

Another Likud lawmaker, Economy Minister Nir Barkat, said he would respect the court’s ruling if it struck the law down. But in any case, the Likud bill doesn’t appear to be a promising avenue toward compromise. “This isn’t softening and compromise, this is Hungary and Poland on steroids,” Labor Party Chair Merav Michaeli said on a radio program on Monday, referring to countries where the government has increased its control over the court system. “From the start, I said we can’t negotiate with them.”

A predecessor of Michaeli’s in the Labor Party has also taken a hard line and — unlike the many voices who worry about a clash of government authorities — has suggested that he would prefer a constitutional crisis to compromise. Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, said that a constitutional crisis would force senior Israeli military commanders to take sides — and expressed confidence that they would choose to obey the courts.

“It would be a severe constitutional crisis,” Barak said in a speech last month. “That’s when the test of the gatekeepers and defenders of sovereignty would arrive: The head of the Shin Bet, the police commissioner, the chief of staff and the head of the Mossad. I’m convinced that they understand that in a democracy, the only choice is to recognize the supremacy of law and the Supreme Court.”

The mounting threats by military reservists, and comments by former military commanders opposing the court reform, may indicate that the military will opt to follow the court. But Saliternik hopes that’s a choice Israeli forces won’t have to confront. 

“This is something that has never happened in Israel,” she said. “It’s so very hard to think about. I very much hope that that government will get a hold of itself and act responsibly.”

The post ‘The gun is on the table’: Both sides of Israel’s debate say that a constitutional crisis is coming appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

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The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

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Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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