(JTA) – A Russian Jewish dissident whose case has attracted support from human rights groups and prominent Jewish activists was sentenced to 25 years in prison for treason on Monday.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, 41, received the harshest sentence given to a critic of the Kremlin in the 14 months since Russia first invaded Ukraine. The charges were handed down roughly a year after Kara-Murza had accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine during a speech to the Arizona state legislature. The charges included discrediting the Russian military and spreading “knowingly false information” about its actions in Ukraine.
Kara-Murza’s sentence came after years of tensions between him and Putin’s government that recently culminated in his urging for the West to impose sanctions on Russia as punishment for its war in Ukraine. He has been poisoned twice and has blamed the Kremlin for both instances, while the government has denied its involvement.
When Kara-Murza heard the sentence, his lawyer told the BBC, he took it as a sign of the effectiveness of his criticism. “My self-esteem even rose,” the lawyer quoted Kara-Murza as saying. “I realized I’d been doing everything right.”
The Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, a Canada-based consortium of human rights NGOs named after the diplomat who rescued 100,000 Jews during the Holocaust, and where Kara-Murza is a senior fellow, condemned his sentencing on Twitter and called the charges a “sham.”
“His unlawful imprisonment cannot go unanswered,” the center said in a statement. “We must not relent until Vladimir is free. His wife and children need him free. Russia needs him free. The world needs him free.”
Former Soviet Jewish dissident Natan Sharansky, who met in the past with Kara-Murza, has also condemned Russia’s treatment of him. Sharansky spent nine years in Soviet prison due to his activism, and recently told the Times of Israel that Kara-Murza’s prosecution was “evidence that Russia has returned to Stalinist times.” One of the items Kara-Murza has been allowed to keep in prison is a copy of “Fear No Evil,” Sharansky’s 1988 memoir about his time in the gulag.
“Putin’s case against Vladimir Kara-Murza is a case against democracy, human rights and civil society in Russia,” Sharansky tweeted last week. “All of us who want to see Russia shed its current dictatorial path and the shadow it casts over Europe, must stand with Kara-Murza today.”
Former Canadian Attorney General Irwin Cotler, who is Jewish, has also come to Kara-Murza’s defense, saying in a statement, “Vladimir’s conviction represents the criminalization of freedom in Putin’s Russia and is a conviction of the country’s corrupt courts.”
Leon Aron, another Russian Jewish advocate for Kara-Murza who serves as a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote in Politico that “Only Putin’s death can free my friend Vladimir.” In 2017, Aron had asserted in the Jewish publication Mosaic that Putin was not explicitly antisemitic, but warned that he would “almost certainly” begin indulging in antisemitism “after an embarrassing military defeat.”
The day after Kara-Murza’s sentence was handed down, a Russian court denied release to Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, the American son of Soviet Jewish refugees. Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges last month and could face up to 20 years in prison; his detention has been widely condemned by Western officials and organizations as an attack on press freedom, and Jewish groups have rallied to his defense. Analysts believe Gershkovich was targeted by the Kremlin for his reporting on its invasion of Ukraine.
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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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