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World Zionist Congress roiled by left- and right-wing protests, in sign of Independence Day tensions



(JTA) — Tensions over Israel’s future have roiled a convening of the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, in a harbinger of a season of Diaspora Jewish participation in Israel’s fierce political fights.

First, left-wing and centrist delegates to the group, which determines policy for an arm of the Jewish Agency for Israel, rallied in front of Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sweeping proposal to weaken the judiciary. Then, delegates from right-wing groups sought to block voting on resolutions critical of the Israeli government, in a gambit that generated tense scenes from within a body whose deliberations rarely attract public attention.

The tensions spilled over into Friday when the right-wing Knesset member who leads the committee focusing on the judiciary legislation, Simcha Rothman, was briefly cornered by protesters before being whisked away by police.

The incidents offered a sign of how the coming days and weeks might play out in Israel, as thousands of Diaspora Jews make their way to the country for events tied to Israel’s 75th birthday. The birthday comes soon before the days during which Israel’s right-wing government is expected to resume the judiciary legislation, which both proponents and critics say has the potential to change Israel forever. Protests are expected to be fierce.

The World Zionist Congress is the periodic assembly that determines policy for the World Zionist Organization, the arm of the Jewish Agency that aims to act as a bridge to the Diaspora. Among its functions is providing materials for Jewish schools across the globe and influencing the priorities of large, international Jewish organizations with substantial budgets. It also votes on symbolic resolutions about Israel’s character and future.

About 100 delegates in the World Zionist Congress took part in what participants said was a spontaneous march opposing the judiciary legislation on Thursday. They wore T-shirts provided by UnXeptable, a protest movement organized by Israeli expatriates.

“We are out here today because the current efforts of the Israeli government to undermine democracy and promote division threatens to tear us apart and not only cause divisions within Israel; it attacks the Diaspora as well,” said John Furstenberg, the vice president for Australasia for Mercaz, the Zionist arm of the Conservative/Masorti movement, who was a one of a number of speakers at the rally outside the Supreme Court. “We cannot stand idly by and say nothing whilst we see our enemies worldwide taking joy from our distress.”

Delegates to the World Zionist Congress protest against the Netanyahu government’s proposed changes to the courts, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, April 20, 2023. (Josh Drill)

Sheila Katz, the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, said delegates from 10 countries participated in the rally. She said she expected more in the coming days, particularly around the General Assembly being held by the Jewish Federations of North America, which is already being assailed by critics of the government for featuring Netanyahu and which is expected to draw 3,000 attendees. Katz is scheduled to be a featured speaker at a massive demonstration planned for Saturday night, which will mark 17 weeks of anti-government protests that have drawn hundreds of thousands of participants.

“All of us who are here believe in the original Zionist vision for this country, and we feel like the current government is losing its way,” Katz said. “And so how do you counter that? You counter it by sharing what the vision really is.”

A second confrontation took place during the congress itself, when a bloc of centrist and left-leaning groups advanced a number of resolutions that would have enshrined the Israeli Declaration of Independence as policy, protected LGBTQ rights and backed those who oppose Netanyahu’s court reforms.

Anticipating that the symbolic resolutions would pass, right-wing groups at the Congress successfully used parliamentary maneuvers to delay voting, though they did not succeed in pressing for individual votes that would have taken many hours and forced delegates to reveal their positions. The votes will now take place online, preventing a repeat of the shouting matches that took place on Thursday, and are expected to result in criticism of Israel’s government.

“This is a victory for the center-left-liberal bloc that will result in the passage of resolutions against the government’s policy, without concessions,” WZO Vice Chairman Yizhar Hess said in a statement about the decision to hold the votes online. “The right tried from the very beginning to prevent there being votes at this Congress. They failed at the beginning. They failed again today.”

The post World Zionist Congress roiled by left- and right-wing protests, in sign of Independence Day tensions 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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