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White House says it will not meet with Israel’s Bezalel Smotrich when he visits the US



WASHINGTON (JTA) — Biden administration officials will not meet with Bezalel Smotrich, the Israeli finance minister who called for a Palestinian village to be “wiped out,” then backtracked, and who is visiting the U.S. next week to meet with leaders of Israel Bonds.

At least five liberal Jewish groups want the U.S. government to consider barring Smotrich from coming here. Ned Price, the department’s spokesman, said at Thursday’s daily briefing that questions on Israeli ministers’ travel should be referred to Israel, and that he does not comment on the eligibility of individuals to enter the United States.

The trip comes as Smotrich and his far-right allies in Israel’s governing coalition have upended traditions of comity between establishment U.S. Jewish groups and Israel. Those relationships have become even more strained in recent days, after Israeli West Bank settlers rioted in a Palestinian village. They also come amid raucous protests of the Israeli government’s plan to sap the power of the judiciary, which critics say endanger minority rights. 

William Daroff, the CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Smotrich’s  remarks were “disgusting,” and a spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, said the group would not be meeting with him.

Asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency whether the minister will meet with the White House, a National Security Council spokeswoman said, “No U.S. government meetings are planned for this trip.” That includes officials in the U.S. Treasury, the counterpart to Smotrich’s ministry, she said. 

Smotrich is also responsible for civilian affairs in much of the West Bank. His call to “wipe out” the West Bank village of Huwara came after a settler rampage through the village following a shooting there that killed two Israeli brothers. At least one Palestinian in another village died amid the riots.

“I think the village of Huwara should be wiped out, I think that the state of Israel should do it,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. A few hours later, he walked back his statement: “To remove any doubt, in my words I did not mean wiping out the village of Huwara, but rather acting in a targeted way against terrorists and supporters of terror, and exacting a heavy price from them in order to return security to local residents.”

This week, the State Department’s annual report on terrorism recorded a “substantial rise” in  settler attacks on Palestinian in 2021, the first time it had made such an assessment. On Wednesday, Price called Smotrich’s remarks about wiping out the village “disgusting” and “incitement to violence.” 

“Just as we condemn Palestinian incitement to violence, we condemn these provocative remarks that also amount to incitement to violence,” Price said in his briefing that day. “We call on Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials to publicly and clearly reject and disavow these comments.”

Netanyahu has yet to do so, and with Smotrich just days away from a visit stateside to give a speech to Israel Bonds in Washington D.C., five Jewish groups are saying the Biden administration should at least consider keeping him out and others will not sit down with him. AIPAC’s declining to meet with Smotrich is particularly noteworthy. It routinely meets with senior Israeli ministers.

“The administration should make clear that comments promoting grave violations of human rights, such as those made by Smotrich, are grounds for re-examination of a visa for entry to the United States,” J Street, the liberal Jewish Israel policy group, said in a statement.

Four other Jewish groups are saying outright that the Biden administration should keep Smotrich out, among them Americans for Peace Now, an affiliate off the Israeli left-wing group; the Israel Policy Forum, a group that advocates for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel; T’ruah, a liberal rabbinic human rights group; and Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-Zionist group.

The T’ruah statement referred to U.S. immigration law, which bans entry to those who have “incited terrorist activity with intent to cause serious bodily harm or death.” It said the threat Smotrich poses is especially acute since he assumed responsibility for administering civilian life in parts of the West Bank.

“Smotrich’s comments are even more dangerous now that Israel’s de jure annexation of the West Bank has made him effectively the governor of the territory, with broad oversight over most areas of civil administration,” the T’ruah statement said.

IPF, a group led by former lay leaders of mainstream pro-Israel organizations, also joined the calls. its policy director, Michael Koplow, told JTA, “We believe that there are sufficient grounds to deny Smotrich a visa.”

The Americans for Peace Now petition, addressed to Biden, garnered more than 1,100 signatures less than a day after it was posted.

“Smotrich wants to bring his hatred to US soil. He has plans to travel to the United States later this month. We’re here to say that he is not welcome,” the petition says. “We have seen how incitement in Israel-Palestine has led to devastating violence and we urge your administration to deny entry to Smotrich and his hateful rhetoric.”

A sixth U.S.-based liberal group, the New Israel Fund, which raises money for social justice organizations in Israel, said Jewish groups should make clear Smnotrich is unwanted here. “Our responsibility right now as American Jews is to say ‘take your hateful racism, your homophobia your plans for an apartheid Israel and get out. We do not want you here’,” it said in a statement. Smnotrich has called himself a “proud homophobe.”

Daroff, of the Conference of Presidents, declined to comment to JTA on whether he would meet with Smotrich.But he tweeted his agreement with Price. “I agree. His statement seeking to ‘wipe out’ Huwara was, as Ned Price said, ‘irresponsible, repugnant and disgusting’,” he wrote.

Israel Bonds, which promotes investment in Israeli government bonds, said in a statement that because it works closely with the Finance Ministry, welcoming the sitting finance minister to its events was a matter of routine. Smotrich will speak to the group’s Washington, D.C. leadership meeting. 

“As part of their long-established responsibilities, Israel’s finance ministers from across the political spectrum have historically, over Israel Bonds’ 72-year history, attended our events,” a spokesman said, replying to a JTA query. “One of the organization’s most unique and paramount attributes is that it remains unbiased with regard to any political party or affiliation.”

Hundreds of rabbis have said they would not welcome Smotrich or his allies into their synagogues and would encourage their communities to boycott him. The Presidents’ Conference did not invite ministers from Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party to address its annual colloquy in Israel last month, although they were invited to a luncheon for all Knesset members.

One group that backs settlements, the Zionist Organization of America, said not meeting with Religious Zionism leaders was a mistake.

‘Nobody has to agree with them or disagree with them,” Klein said. “But they should speak and whoever wants to challenge them, challenge them, criticize them, disagree with them.”

The post White House says it will not meet with Israel’s Bezalel Smotrich when he visits the US appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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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.

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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.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

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.)

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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.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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