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Virginia antisemitism commission blasts Israel boycotts and indirectly critiques Trump

(JTA) — A Republican-led commission tasked with studying antisemitism in Virginia recommended a suite of actions, from improving Holocaust education to prohibiting Israel boycotts, while also referring to former President Donald Trump’s recent dinner with a pair of prominent antisemitic figures.

The Virginia Commission to Combat Antisemitism, established by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, also concluded in a report released earlier this week that “political advocacy in the classroom has been associated with subsequent antisemitic actions.”

The report, which Youngkin ordered on his first day in office in January, comes just weeks after the U.S. Department of Education opened an investigation into allegations of antisemitic harassment at a Fairfax County school district, filed by the right-wing Zionist Organization of America. Congress has since 2004 mandated an annual report on antisemitism worldwide, and a number of states have commissions on how best to advance Holocaust education and broader anti-hate measures. 

In Virginia, the state that hosted the deadly 2017 Charlottesville march that thrust right-wing white nationalism into the American consciousness, the forming of such a commission to fight antisemitism was a potential model for other states to follow. While the report does touch on Charlottesville, it lays as much blame for antisemitism on anti-Israel activists and the state education system as it does on white nationalists.

Mirroring Youngkin’s own language about what he refers to as liberal bias in public schools, the report encouraged Virginia’s legislature to pass laws “prohibiting partisan political or ideological indoctrination in classrooms and curricula at state-supported K-12 schools and higher education institutions.” 

Jennifer Goss, the program manager for the Holocaust education group Echoes & Reflections who was on the commission’s education subcommittee, said those recommendations were born out of “some members of the commission feeling concern over reported instances of antisemitism of educators, particularly in higher education institutions, making comments related to the concurrent political situation in Israel.” 

For examples of such instances of anti-Israel bias among college educators, the report cited a study from the conservative Heritage Foundation alleging that university administrators tweet more negative comments about Israel than about “oppressive regimes”; its other examples involved reports of antisemitism and anti-Israel activity among university students.

By making the topic a cornerstone of his successful gubernatorial campaign and current legislative priorities, Youngkin helped turn Virginia into a hotbed for Republican-led claims that public schools are indoctrinating students with “critical race theory,” an academic concept that analyzes different aspects of society through the lens of race and ethnicity. Legislative attempts to curb such classroom instruction nationwide have sparked controversy, including in the realm of Holocaust education; school officials and lawmakers have argued students should learn about the Holocaust from the Nazis’ perspective, and multiple incidents have resulted in schools briefly or permanently removing Holocaust books from their shelves.

Democratic Virginia legislators criticized the report for what they saw as leaning into one of Youngkin’s pet issues. “You can count on him to go to the lowest common denominator and then try to politicize our children’s classrooms,” the state’s House Minority Leader, Don Scott Jr., told The Washington Post.

The commission was chaired by Jeffrey Rosen, who is Jewish and served as the acting U.S. Attorney General in the final month of the Trump administration; his work as chair was highly praised by commissioners who spoke to JTA. The commission’s other members, all appointed by Youngkin, included representatives from B’nai B’rith International, local law enforcement and non-Jewish organizations such as defense contractor Vanguard Research Inc.

Without mentioning Trump by name, the report included the passage, “Even a former president recently met with two notorious antisemites,” referring to Trump’s recent Mar-a-Lago dinner with rapper Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, whom the ADL deems a white supremacist.

Trump’s name was not mentioned because “we didn’t want it to be partisan,” said Bruce Hoffman, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Jewish Civilization and a member of the commission.

The report largely cited data from the Anti-Defamation League and the FBI’s hate crimes division when discussing antisemitism, but it also cited the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a pro-Israel legal group that frequently files challenges against U.S. universities. The AMCHA Initiative — which launches campaigns against supporters of the Israel boycott movement in higher education — along with prominent pro-Israel attorney and frequent Trump ally Alan Dershowitz are also quoted in the report, in sections on the rise of antisemitism on college campuses. 

The report echoed some Brandeis Center language that some criticized as inflammatory, including its chair’s claims that the University of California-Berkeley had instituted “Jew-free zones” after some law students adopted a bylaw boycotting Zionist guest speakers.

The commission recommended that Virginia create a law prohibiting the state from doing business with entities that boycott Israel, similar to laws in several other states. It also recommended that Youngkin use an executive order banning “academic boycotts of foreign countries,” without specifying which countries.

The commission did not mention Youngkin’s own brushes with antisemitism controversies, including his 2021 assertion that Jewish Democratic megadonor George Soros was secretly inserting liberal operatives into the state’s school boards. His political action committee also financially supported a Republican state House candidate who in an ad depicted his Jewish opponent with a digitally enlarged nose, surrounded by gold coins.

“Hatred, intolerance, and antisemitism have no place in Virginia and I appreciate the committee’s hard work to highlight and grapple with these matters,” Youngkin said Monday in a statement.

Sam Asher, director of the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond, said his main contribution as a member of the commission was to push for the state to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which other states and countries have done. He also pushed for more Holocaust education across the state, and both of those recommendations made the final report.

“I think it’s a very good report,” he said. “Now we need to put things into legislation.”

The executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington told The Washington Post that he was generally “thrilled” by the report, but he added that he wants local Jewish leaders to get time to digest its recommendations.

“I would hope that the governor and legislative leaders would not take steps on any of these things until they’ve consulted with the people who it’s going to have the most impact on,” Ron Halber said.

The post Virginia antisemitism commission blasts Israel boycotts and indirectly critiques Trump 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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