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What Jewish voters need to know about Ron DeSantis, the Florida Republican running for president

(JTA) – In late April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Jerusalem, voicing support for Israeli West Bank settlements, touting a law he had just signed giving families thousands of dollars per year in private school tuition vouchers and signing a bill that increased penalties for antisemitic harassment.

Two weeks later, his education department rejected two new textbooks on the Holocaust as part of a clampdown on what he has called “woke indoctrination.”

Those two developments may anchor the Jewish arguments for and against DeSantis as he stands on the cusp of announcing a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Supporters paint him as a steadfast ally of Israel who speaks to the pocketbook concerns of Jewish families. In the years since he became Florida’s governor in 2019, the state has seen an influx of Orthodox Jews, drawn both by lax pandemic policies and the promise of discounted day school tuition.

But DeSantis’ opponents portray him as a cultural reactionary whose anti-“woke” politics are inhibiting education on the Holocaust and antisemitism — along with teaching about race, gender and sexuality. He has repeatedly condemned George Soros, the progressive megadonor who is an avatar of right-wing antisemitic conspiracy theories. Surveys show that his near-total restriction of abortion rights is unpopular with Jews nationally.

And hanging over the campaign is the candidacy of former President Donald Trump, who is running for a second term, is leading in the polls — and shares much in common with DeSantis even as he has attacked him.

While DeSantis’ allies have played up some of their differences (such as DeSantis’ youth and military service), when it comes to their respective records on issues of interest to Jewish voters, Trump and DeSantis are less distinct.

Each has sought to cultivate Jewish support by focusing on Israel and erasing church-state separations that, Orthodox Jewish leaders argue, inhibit religious freedoms. And both have attracted white nationalist supporters while leaning into the culture wars.

DeSantis is set to officially announce his campaign in a chat with Elon Musk, who was just condemned by a wide range of Jewish figures (and defended by a handful of others) for tweeting that Soros “hates humanity.”

Here’s what you need to know about DeSantis’s Jewish record:

He has been an outspoken booster of Israel.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a Jerusalem Post conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem on April 27, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

DeSantis, a Catholic, has a visceral affinity for Israel, and has framed his support for the country in religious terms.

“When I took office, I promised to make Florida the most pro-Israel state in the United States, and we have been able to deliver on that promise,” he said this week, addressing evangelical Christians at the National Religious Broadcasting Convention in Orlando, The Jerusalem Post reported.

He likes to tell audiences that on his first visit to Israel as a U.S. congressman, his wife Casey scooped up water from the Sea of Galilee into an empty bottle to save for baptisms. The couple had yet to have children.

The water came in handy for the baptisms of their first and second children, but after DeSantis was elected governor, staff at his residence cleared away the unremarkable bottle (which was still half full) after their second child was baptized in 2019. Not long afterward, DeSantis mentioned the minor fiasco in passing at a synagogue in Boca Raton, and before he knew it people were sending him bottles of water from Israel.

The gesture still moves him. “I was sent, all the way from Israel, this beautiful big glass jar filled with water from the Sea of Galilee that sat on my desk in the governor’s office in Tallahassee until our third child was born and baptized, and we used that water to do it,” DeSantis said last month when he visited Israel.

DeSantis made Israel a focus when he was congressman, taking a leading role in advocating for moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He was among a group of lawmakers who toured Jerusalem in March 2017 and was bold enough to pick out what he said would be the likeliest site. 

In November of that year, as chairman of the House national security subcommittee, he convened a hearing on what he called the necessity of moving the embassy. The following month, Trump announced the move, and the site the Trump administration chose was the one DeSantis had identified.

In May 2019, just months after becoming governor, DeSantis convened his state cabinet in Jerusalem and gave a definition of antisemitism favored by the pro-Israel community the force of law. The same year, he banned government officials from using Airbnb after the vacation rental broker removed listings in West Bank settlements. DeSantis’ blacklisting of the company was seen was key to Airbnb reversing the decision.

He’s garnered allies — and enemies — among Florida’s Jews.

DeSantis has done much to cultivate support in Florida’s growing Orthodox community, which shares his enthusiasm for bringing faith into government.

In 2021, DeSantis came to a Chabad synagogue in Surfside to sign two bills, one affording state recognition to Hatzalah, the Jewish ambulance service, and the other tasking all Florida public schools with setting aside a daily moment of silence, long a key initiative of the Chabad movement.

In his first gubernatorial campaign in 2018, DeSantis campaigned on steering state money to religious day schools. This year he made good on the promise, signing a law that makes $7,800 in scholarship funds available annually to schoolchildren across the state, regardless of income, and to be used at their school of choice.

DeSantis also has plenty of Jewish enemies in a state where the majority of the Jewish community votes for Democrats.

In his first term, he had a contentious relationship with Nikki Fried, a Democrat who, as agriculture commissioner, was one of the four ministers in the Cabinet who had a vote. DeSantis maneuvered to freeze her out of the decision-making process.

Fried, who describes herself as a “good Jewish girl from Miami,” now chairs the state’s Democratic Party. She routinely calls DeSantis a fascist. In April, she was arrested at an abortion rights protest outside Tallahassee’s City Hall.

Under DeSantis, Florida has prohibited abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. That stance has set him up for clashes with other prominent Jews in the state as well. Last year, he suspended Andrew Warren, a Jewish state attorney, because Warren pledged not to prosecute individuals who seek or provide abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

L’Dor Va-Dor, a synagogue in Boynton Beach, spearheaded the first lawsuit filed against Florida’s abortion ban in 2022, citing religious freedom arguments. Daniel Uhlfelder, a Jewish lawyer who drew attention when he dressed as the Grim Reaper to protest DeSantis’s reopening of the beaches during the pandemic, signed on as an attorney for the synagogue.

His “war on woke” has had implications on Holocaust education.

Recently, much of DeSantis’ tenure has been defined by what he calls the “war on woke,” a term originated by Black Americans to describe awareness of racial inequity but now more often functions as shorthand for conservative criticism of progressive values.  DeSantis has enacted multiple pieces of legislation restricting what can be taught in schools and has also limited transgender rights, banning gender-affirming medical care for children.

While most of the books challenged under DeSantis’ education laws have focused on race and gender, the study of the Holocaust has been affected as well. In addition to the education department’s rejection of the Holocaust textbooks this month, Florida laws that make teachers liable for teaching inappropriate content to students have led multiple school districts to take Holocaust novels off the shelves, including a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary.

DeSantis calls claims that he’s chilling Holocaust education “fake narratives.” He and his defenders point to his requiring all Florida public schools to certify that they teach about the Holocaust.

Neo-Nazi and white supremacist activity has increased under his watch.

A recent report from the Anti-Defamation League described an upward trend of extremist and antisemitic activity in the Sunshine State, driven in part by emerging white supremacist groups — some of whom have gone to bat for DeSantis in the past.

DeSantis has been dogged by accusations that he caters to the far right. One of the most stinging exchanges in the 2018 election season came when Andrew Gillum, DeSantis’s Democratic opponent in the race, accused DeSantis of not being forceful enough in renouncing the white nationalists who expressed support for him in robocalls.

“First of all, he’s got neo-Nazis helping him out in this state,” Gillum said. “Now, I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist, I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.” DeSantis flinched.

DeSantis eked out a victory a few weeks later, and was soundly reelected last year, but he remains sensitive on the issue. Last year, when neo-Nazis intimidated Orlando’s Jews with signs and shouts at an overpass, politicians in the state reflexively condemned them. A reporter asked DeSantis why he had not done so, and after calling the neo-Nazis “jackasses,” the governor said the question was a “smear” and added, “We’re not playing that game.” (Several months later, the leader of the antisemitic propaganda group Goyim Defense League moved from California to Florida, saying he thought the Sunshine State would be more hospitable to his efforts.)

DeSantis has also called liberal prosecutors “Soros-funded”. It’s not an unusual political gambit — the billionaire Jewish liberal donor does fund progressives running for prosecutor. But Soros has also been the focus of multiple conspiracy theories that antisemitism watchdogs say are antisemitic, casting the Holocaust survivor as a malign influence with excessive power.

Some Jewish donors are already supporting him.

DeSantis appeared last year at a conference in New York of Jewish conservatives, where he talked to a friendly audience about his war against the “woke” and was also conveniently in the room with some of the most generous Republican donors.

He is reportedly working some of those donors, who gave generously to his gubernatorial runs. He was a star last November at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual Las Vegas confab, and Axios reported that he met with Miriam Adelson, the widow of GOP kingmaker Sheldon Adelson, as well as other Jewish donors when he was in Jerusalem last month.

A number of them are hanging back, not wanting to alienate Trump while he remains influential in the party. (Adelson has said she does not want to weigh in on the primaries.)

Among the Jewish donors and fundraisers said to be in DeSantis’s camp: Jay Zeidman, a onetime Jewish White House liaison who is now a Houston based businessman; Gabriel Groisman, a lawyer who is the former mayor of Bal Harbor; and Fred Karlinsky, a leading insurance lawyer.

Last week, Jewish conservative political commentator Dave Rubin tweeted that DeSantis would bring “Freedom, sanity and competency” to the country. Groisman shared the tweet with the word “This.”

The post What Jewish voters need to know about Ron DeSantis, the Florida Republican running for president 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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