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The JTA conversation: Pogrom? Terrorism? What do we call what happened in Huwara?

(JTA) — On Sunday, after a Palestinian gunman shot and killed two Israeli brothers in the West Bank, Jewish settlers rioted in the nearby Palestinian town of Huwara, burning cars and buildings. A Palestinian was killed and dozens were injured.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Jewish rioters for “taking the law in their own hands,” but many observers — including the top Israeli general in the West Bank and Abraham Foxman, director emeritus of the the Anti-Defamation League — used stronger language, calling the attacks a “pogrom.” 

The use of the word, which most famously refers to a wave of anti-Jewish violence in the Russian empire beginning in the late 19th century, in turn became the subject of debate. Does using “pogrom” co-opt Jewish history unfairly and inaccurately by suggesting Jews are no better than their historical persecutors? Does avoiding the term mean Israel and its supporters are not taking sufficient responsibility for the actions of its Jewish citizens?

The debate is not just about language, but about controlling the narrative. Political speech can minimize or exaggerate events, put them in their proper context or distort them in ways that, per George Orwell, can “corrupt thought.”

We asked historians, linguists and activists to consider the word pogrom, and asked them what politicians, journalists and everyday people should call what happened at Huwara. Their responses are below. 


Sidestepping the real issue

Dr. Jeffrey Shandler
Distinguished Professor, Department of Jewish Studies, Rutgers University 

The meanings of the word “pogrom” in different languages are key here. In Russian, it means a massacre or raid, as it does in Yiddish; in neither language is it understood as specifically about violence against Jews. The Oxford English Dictionary concurs that pogrom means an “organized massacre… of any body or class,” but notes that, in the English-language press, it was first used mostly to refer to anti-Jewish attacks in Russia, citing examples from 1905-1906. 

Therefore, though the association of pogrom with violence targeting Jews is widely familiar, its meaning is broader. 

That said, because of English speakers’ widely familiar association of the term with Jews as victims, to use pogrom to describe violence perpetrated by Jews is provocative. As to whether it is appropriate to refer to recent attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinians, it seems to me that this question sidesteps the more important question of whether the actions being called pogroms are appropriate. 


Call it what it is: “settler terrorism”

Sara Yael Hirschhorn
’22-’23 Research Fellow at the Center for Antisemitism Research at the ADL, and author, “City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement”

Let me say first with a loud and clear conscience: What happened in Huwara was abhorrent, immoral, and unconscionable and certainly was not committed in my name. 

But to paraphrase Raymond Carver’s famous formulation: How do we talk about it when we talk about Huwara? What kind of descriptive and analytical framework can adequately and contextually interpret that horrific event?

The shorthand of choice seems to be “pogrom” — but it isn’t clear that all who deploy the term are signifying the same thing. For some, pogrom is a synonym for pillage, rampage, fire, property damage and violence in the streets — a one-word general summary of brutal acts. For others, pogrom refers to vigilante justice, an abbreviated story of the non-state or non-institutional actors and their motivations.  

More specifically, however, pogrom is seemingly being mobilized as a metaphor to Jewish history, juxtaposing the Jewish victims of yesterday to the Jewish-Israeli perpetrators of today, an implicit analogy to the prelude to the Shoah, recasting Zionists as organized bands of genocidaires (with or without regime sponsorship) like the Cossacks, the Nationalist Fronts or even the Einsatzgruppen. Some would use the word to incorporate all three meanings (and more).

As a historian, I am troubled by the haphazard and harmful use of terms that are attached to a specific time and place — such as the thousand-year history of Jews in the Rhinelands and Eastern Europe, with many layers of imperial, national, local, economic and religious forces that precipitated these events — in such an ahistorical manner. Nor do I find the parallels between Zionists and Nazis to be historically careful (if deliberately offensive) — the State of Israel is committing crimes in the West Bank, but not a genocide. The equivalence also all too easily and incorrectly grafts tropes of racism and white supremacy drawn from American history into the West Bank’s soil. 

So what to say about Huwara? Israel — for reasons both political and lexiconographical — has failed to consistently adopt a term for such attacks. (Often the euphemism of “errant weeds” who are “taking matters into their own hands” is the choice of Knesset politicians.) To my mind, the best term is “settler terrorism,” which puts Jewish-Israeli acts on par with Palestinian terrorism. It should also mean that these actions merit the same consequences under the occupation like trial, imprisonment, home demolition and other deterrents enforced against all those who choose the path of violence. 

Last but not least, a pogrom was historically an unpunished crime against humanity that led only to war and annihilation. Don’t we aspire for more in Israel/Palestine? 


Palestinians call it “ethnic cleansing”

Ibrahim Eid Dalalsha
Director, Horizon Center for Political Studies and Media Outreach, Ramallah, and member of Israel Policy Forum’s Critical Neighbors task force 

Palestinians generally view and describe what happened during Sunday’s Huwara attacks as “racist hate crimes seeking to destroy and dispossess the Palestinian people of their homes and properties.” While no specific term has been used to describe these attacks, it was likened to the barbaric and savage invasion of Baghdad by Hulagu, the 13th-century Mongol commander.

Palestinian intellectuals tend to use “ethnic cleansing,” savage and barbaric ethnically motivated violence against innocent civilians, as another way of referring to these attacks. When such events include killing, Palestinian politicians and intellectuals tend to use the term massacre, or “majzara,” to underline the irrational and indiscriminate violence against defenseless civilians. I don’t think the term “pogrom” and its historic connotation are widely known to most people here. From a Palestinian perspective, using such terms, including “Holocaust,” is not considered a mistake. In fact, even using “Holocaust“ to describe violence against Palestinian civilians in and around 1948 was not considered a mistake until very recently when it caused such a saga for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Germany

View of cars burned by Jewish settlers during riots in Huwara, in the West Bank, near Nablus, Feb. 27, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

In the name of historical accuracy 

Rukhl Schaechter
Yiddish Editor, The Forward

The recent attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians in Huwara are abhorrent. I commend those in Israel calling them peulot teror, “actions of terror,” and I trust that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. But these riots were not pogroms.

The word pogrom refers to one of the many violent riots and subsequent massacres of Jews in Eastern Europe between the 17th and 20th centuries. These attacks were committed by local non-Jewish, often peasant populations. They were instigated by rabble-rousers like Bogdan Chmielnicki, who led a Cossack and peasant uprising against Polish rule in Ukraine in 1648 and ended up destroying hundreds of Jewish communities. According to eyewitnesses, the attackers also committed atrocities on pregnant women.

Note that the massacres of Jews carried out by the Nazis, and the murders of Armenians by the Turkish government at the turn of the 20th century — as horrific as they were — were never called pogroms because in both cases, there was a government behind it. In the name of historic accuracy, let’s continue to use the word pogrom solely for mob attacks on and massacres of Jews.


When the Poles banned “pogrom”

Samuel D. Kassow
Professor of History, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut

In Poland in the late 1930s, altercations between a Jew and a Pole sometimes ended with either the Jew or the Pole getting badly hurt or even killed. When the victim was a Pole, mobs of Poles rampaged through Jewish neighborhoods smashing windows, looting shops and often beating or even killing Jews. Poles often held Jews collectively responsible for the death of one of their own. This happened in Przytyk, Minsk-Mazowieck, Grodno and other places. Jews called these riots “pogroms,” which they were. But the Polish government banned use of the term in the press. After all, “pogrom” was a Russian word, and “pogroms” happened only in a place characterized by barbarism and ignorance. Since Poland was not Russia, and since Poles were eminently civilized, logically speaking, pogroms simply did not take place in Poland. What happened in these towns were to be called “excesses” (zajscia). But certainly not pogroms! 

I take it that since we Jews are so civilized, we too are incapable of pogroms. So should we label what these settlers did “‘excesses”? Or perhaps we should take a deep breath and call them pogroms?


A Jewish, but not exclusive, history

Henry Abramson

The word “pogrom” is rooted in time and place, although the type of violence it describes is as old as human history. It is a Russian word, but it entered the English language in the late 19th century through the medium of Yiddish-speakers, outraged at the wave of antisemitic disturbances that surged under rule of the last tsar of the Russian Empire, Nicholas II. Russians themselves used a variety of words for the ugly phenomenon, with translations like “riot” or “persecution,” but the term “pogrom” proved the most evocative: the Slavic prefix “po” suggests a directed attack, and the root “grom” is the word for “thunder.” A pogrom, therefore, meant a focused point where a great deal of energy was dissipated in a single dramatic act of violence.

The focused point, in the context of that dark history, was the civilian Jewish population in the tiny shtetls that dotted the Pale of Settlement. In this regard the word could be used to encompass attacks on Jewish populations from as long ago as the year 38 in Alexandria, Egypt. It does not, however, have any specific designation to indicate that Jews are the victims.

The post The JTA conversation: Pogrom? Terrorism? What do we call what happened in Huwara? 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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