(JTA) — When David Friedman served as ambassador to Israel under former President Donald Trump, he was known for helping to shepherd through policies favored by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
That’s why it’s remarkable that he vocally criticized one of Netanyahu’s signature policy goals: the controversial proposal to overhaul Israel’s judiciary.
While attending a session of a conservative political conference last week in Israel, Friedman told Israeli lawmaker Simcha Rothman, an architect of the judicial reform, that the legislation “was going too far for me and for many Americans” according to attendees who spoke to Axios.
Rothman, a member of the far-right Religious Zionism party who chairs the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, said the reform would make Israel’s courts resemble the U.S. legal system. Friedman countered that that comparison is off-base because an element of the reform, which would allow a majority of parliament to override the court’s authority, could threaten minority rights.
“You compare this to the U.S., but it doesn’t work like that in our system,” Friedman said, according to Axios. The conference was sponsored by the Tikvah Fund and the Hertog Foundation, conservative U.S. Jewish groups that back many of Netanyahu’s policies. Netanyahu has sought American support, particularly among conservatives, for his judicial reforms.
Israel’s Supreme Court has issued rulings protecting the rights of minorities, including Arab citizens of Israel, non-Orthodox Jewish denominations, and LGBTQ people. The U.S. Supreme Court also has struck down laws passed in Congress, citing the U.S. Constitution. Israel lacks a constitution, so its Supreme Court cites a set of foundational acts called basic laws, which function as a quasi-constitution. It also cites common law, the country’s Declaration of Independence, Jewish law and other sources in coming to its decisions.
Friedman did not respond to a request for comment via Twitter direct message.
Friedman, who was Donald Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer and his ambassador to Israel throughout his presidency, forged a close alliance with Netanyahu, helping to see through radical changes in U.S. Israel policy long sought by the Israeli right, including moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
A longtime philanthropic backer of Israeli West Bank settlements, Friedman reportedly worked with Netanyahu to use a peace proposal advanced by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top Middle East adviser, as a pretext to annex parts of the West Bank. Kushner opposed Friedman’s initiative and eventually nixed the plan. (That account was revealed in a book by Kushner. Friedman has denied it.)
Friedman’s closeness to Trump and to Netanyahu is a source of pride for him, and he cites both men as friends on the speaking circuit. But this is not the first time he has broken with them on a matter of principle: Last year he earned Trump’s ire by criticizing the former president for meeting with two antisemites, the rapper Kanye West and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.
Friedman told Rothman he was in favor of some parts of the judicial reform. Like many American Jewish public figures, he has endorsed Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s calls for compromise between the Knesset’s governing coalition and opposition.
Opposition leaders say they are ready to negotiation as long as Netanyahu stops advancing the court reform legislation. The reforms have sparked a major political crisis in Israel, bringing hundreds of thousands of people into the streets for weekly protests. On Wednesday evening, a group of Israeli lawmakers from the coalition and opposition jointly endorsed compromise negotiations.
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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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