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Columbia University suspends Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine

(New York Jewish Week) — Columbia University has suspended two pro-Palestinian student groups — Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine — saying they violated university policies and expressed “threatening rhetoric and intimidation.”

The suspension runs through the end of the fall semester, about six more weeks, and marks a significant crackdown by the school on the two groups as campuses nationwide have erupted in debate, activism and occasional violence surrounding the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

“This decision was made after the two groups repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation,” read a statement issued Friday by Gerald Rosberg, Columbia’s senior executive vice president and chair of its Special Committee on Campus Safety.

A spokesperson for JVP’s national organization said it was deferring to the student group to comment on the suspension. Columbia SJP posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that followers should “stay tuned for an official response.”

The suspensions mean that the groups cannot receive university funding or hold events on university space. To be reinstated, Rosberg said, they will need to show “a commitment to compliance with University policies” and meet with university officials.

SJP, whose national umbrella celebrated Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, has been banned at Florida’s public universities as well as Brandeis University. This appears to be the first time a university has suspended JVP, a Jewish anti-Zionist group.

At Columbia, the two groups have held a series of protests and other actions calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, and accusing Israel of “genocide.” Columbia has been a hotspot for campus activism surrounding the conflict, and an Israeli student was assaulted there in what police called a hate crime. Supporters of Israel have criticized the school for what they call a tepid response to the anti-Israel activism, and late last month, Jewish billionaire Henry Swieca quit the board of Columbia Business School, saying that the campus is “unsafe” for Jews.

On Thursday, the two suspended groups held a “die-in” in front of the school’s Low Library, and SJP put up a placard with a series of demands that the JVP chapter promoted online. The final demand, “No more dual degree,” was an apparent reference to the school’s undergraduate dual-degree program with the Jewish Theological Seminary, a Conservative Jewish institution.

Rosberg threatened anti-Israel activists with formal punishment on Wednesday, when a group staged a nine-hour sit-in at the Columbia School of Social Work that was promoted by SJP. According to the Columbia Spectator, the campus newspaper, Rosberg communicated through representatives that the activists were in violation of school rules and faced academic sanctions. The Spectator reported that Rosberg told the activists they were “interfering with the traffic of people who are trying to come in and get an education here and pursue their goals here in the School of Social Work.”

He added, “I want to say to you as clearly as I possibly can that what you are doing, all of you, just by being here, is a serious violation of our rules.”

The announcement of the suspension comes after dozens of national Jewish groups, campus organizations and state legislators signed a letter demanding universities withdraw their schools’ recognition of and funding for SJP following Oct. 7. It also comes about a week after Columbia announced the formation of a task force to identify short- and long-term strategies to combat antisemitism at the university and its affiliated institutions.

“During this especially charged time on our campus, we are strongly committed to giving space to student groups to participate in debate, advocacy, and protest,” Rosberg wrote. “This relies on community members abiding by the rules and cooperating with University administrators who have a duty to ensure the safety of everyone in our community.”


The post Columbia University suspends Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Beirut Airport Tour for Reporters Cut Short Amid Hezbollah Weapons Storage Allegations

Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters through a screen during a rally commemorating the annual Hezbollah Martyrs’ Day, in Beirut’s southern suburbs. Photo: Reuters/Aziz Taher

An official tour of Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport designed to assuage fears that the facility is being used to store Iranian weapons intended for the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah was cut short as reporters were denied access to a key cargo depot.

The Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported on Sunday that Beirut’s airport is used by Hezbollah — which wields significant political and military influence across Lebanon — to store an enormous number of missiles and other weapons sent from Iran, its chief international backer. An unnamed whistleblower in the report claimed that after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, the airport received “unusually large boxes” on flights from Iran.

In response to these allegations, Lebanese Transportation Minister Ali Hamieh — who is affiliated with Hezbollah — denied the report and invited foreign press and observers to tour the airport. “We have nothing to hide,” Hamieh claimed at a press conference before the tour.

According to the Saudi news outlet Al-Hadath, however, reporters invited to tour the airport were not allowed to see its cargo center.

“Beirut airport security prevented journalists from entering the cargo center at the airport,” Al-Hadath journalist Ghinwa Yateem reported after the tour concluded, adding that Lebanese officials “did not let us film or enter certain areas.”

The tour of Beirut’s airport featured a specific cargo facility that “accounts for 20 percent of the import traffic,” according to Hamieh. A video of the warehouse shown on the tour revealed a near-empty warehouse of goods, as Lebanese officials denied The Telegraph‘s reporting. The facility that houses 80 percent of the airport’s imports was not shown to the press and other observers.

A video shows a near-empty cargo depot at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport. Photo: Screenshot

Flight records from Flightaware — a flight tracking service — show regularly scheduled flights between Iran and Lebanon. Mahan Air flies weekly using widebody A340 planes between Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport and Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport. In 2020, the US government sanctioned Mahan Air because of the airline’s “long record of ferrying weapons and terrorists around the world for Iran.”

A Mahan Air Airbus A340-300 taxis at Duesseldorf airport in Germany, Jan. 16, 2019. Mahan Air routinely flies an A340-300 from Tehran to Beirut. Photo: Reuters / Wolfgang Rattay.

In Israel’s north, Hezbollah terrorists have been firing rockets at Israel daily from southern Lebanon since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre, leading Israeli forces to strike back. Tensions have been escalating between both sides, fueling concerns that the conflict in Gaza — the Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas, another Iran-backed Islamist terrorist group, to Israel’s south — could escalate into a regional conflict.

More than 80,000 Israelis evacuated Israel’s north in October and have since been unable to return to their homes. The majority of those spent the past eight months residing in hotels in safer areas of the country.

Last week, Hezbollah’s Foreign Relations chief Khalil Rizk threatened both Israel and the US in an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Manar and translated by the Middle East Media Research Center (MEMRI). In the interview, Rizk claimed that Jewish “worship instructs him to oppress people, to shed the blood of the Palestinians, and to drive these people out of Palestine.” He also threatened America. “Is this war now with Israel?” he asked. “My answer is that it is not a war with Israel. Israel is merely a tool. The main war, the real war, is with America.”

Allegations of Iran using Rafic Hariri Airport as a weapons depot would not be the first time Iran has allegedly used public infrastructure to transport weapons and support terrorism. During the Syrian civil war, Israel targeted Syrian airports accused of housing Iranian weapons. Last May, for example, Syria’s Aleppo airport was hit by a purported Israeli airstrike after the facility received an arms shipment from an Iranian plane.

Hezbollah routinely stores dangerous weapons and explosive material in public spaces. In 2020, the world’s “largest nonnuclear explosion” shook Beirut when a silo of ammonium nitrate exploded at Beirut’s port. Hezbollah was widely blamed for the explosion, and a formal investigation was launched into the incident.

A general view shows the aftermath at the site of a large blast in Beirut’s port area, Lebanon August 5, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

Rafic Hariri International Airport has seen an uptick in Lebanese and foreign nationals fleeing a potential conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The airport is Lebanon’s main transportation artery. In 2023, roughly seven million travelers used the airport.

The post Beirut Airport Tour for Reporters Cut Short Amid Hezbollah Weapons Storage Allegations first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Victims of Oct. 7 Massacre Sue UNRWA for Funding Hamas, Giving Terrorists a ‘Safe Haven’ in Its Gaza Facilities

The bloodied aftermath of a kindergarten in Kibbutz Be’eri attacked by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen

More than 100 Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack in southern Israel filed a lawsuit on Monday against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) for allegedly “aiding and abetting” the Palestinian terrorist organization and helping it carry out the massacre last year that killed more than 1,200 people.

The lawsuit claims that the UN organization dedicated solely to Palestinian refugees and their descendants has spent years “sending over one billion dollars from UNRWA’s New York bank account in Manhattan that defendants then caused to be delivered to Gaza in cash US dollars to benefit Hamas.” UNRWA allegedly laundered billions in donor cash to Hamas, “greatly reducing humanitarian aid provided to Gaza residents and playing a key role in the Oct. 7 attack.” MM~LAW LLC filed the lawsuit against UNRWA in US federal court in the Southern District of New York on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Both the Israeli government and watchdog groups have unveiled evidence purportedly showing that many UNRWA employees actively participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, assisted in kidnapping Israelis that day, tortured and hid Israeli hostages in their homes, aided in the transfer of Hamas weapons and trucks, and had other close ties to Hamas.

The UN has been probing the allegations in an ongoing investigation. In April, a UN spokesperson said that one case of an employee helping Hamas and its Oct. 7 onslaught had been closed and four others suspended, citing a lack of evidence.

Israel discovered that Hamas used UNRWA facilities in Gaza, including its schools, to run operations and attacks against Israel and to store weapons, both in and under UNRWA institutions. The Israeli military recently revealed that in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Hamas terrorists were found in UNRWA’s central logistics compound alongside UN vehicles. A group of 3,000 teachers working in Gaza for UNRWA even praised the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. UNRWA operates 183 schools in Gaza that are staffed by over 9,400 employees, according to the lawsuit

UNRWA schools have previously been accused of inciting antisemitism, terrorism, and hatred of Israel in the textbooks it distributes to Palestinians students.

The Israeli victims of Oct. 7 claim in their lawsuit that UNRWA “knowingly and intentionally” employed Hamas members and “knowingly provided material support to Hamas in Gaza,” including providing them access to UNRWA facilities and offering “safe havens for terrorists and their materiel.”

They accuse UNRWA of facilitating “construction of Hamas command and control centers, attack tunnels and underground bunkers under UNRWA headquarters, UNRWA schools, medical clinics, and offices.” The UN agency is also accused of turning its facilities into “prison cells to hold hostages,” as well as “military storage and deployment bases, including the storage and guarding over weapons, ammunition, explosives, and other military supplies, to be used by terrorists.”

UNRWA “collectively spent over a decade prior to the Oct.7 attack helping Hamas build up the terror infrastructure and personnel that were necessary to carry out the Oct. 7 attack, including by knowingly providing Hamas with the US dollars in cash that it needed to pay smugglers for weapons, explosives, and other terror materiel,” the lawsuit charges.

The UN organization also allegedly “permitted installation of rocket launching platforms and terrorist firing positions within and/or adjacent to UNRWA schools, medical clinics and offices, in violation of international humanitarian law.”

The case includes accusations about UNRWA implementing a tactic to further fund Hamas by paying its Gaza staff in US dollars rather than local currency, which is the Israeli shekel. The lawsuit states that although other large, local employers in Gaza pay their employees in shekels, UNRWA instead pays its local staff in US dollars and in cash. As a result, UNRWA personnel are required “to turn to Hamas-affiliated moneychangers” to exchange their cash dollars for shekels needed to buy things like groceries and other necessities.

“Hamas runs the majority of the Gaza moneychangers, and those are that are not actually run by Hamas are required by Hamas to pay Hamas a share of the fees they earn (often ranging from 10 percent up to 25 percent) for such exchange transactions, thus ensuring that a predictable percentage of UNRWA’s payroll went to Hamas,” the lawsuit explained. “Hamas uses the moneychangers to finance its military activities, and there are multiple examples in recent years of Hamas using currency exchange facilities in Gaza to finance its military activities.”

The lawsuit continued, “Hamas desperately needed the US currency itself. US dollars in cash form are vital to Hamas for purposes such as obtaining weapons on the international black market to be smuggled into Gaza and used for terrorist purposes, including the Oct. 7 attack.”

The plaintiffs said that because UNRWA’s actions in aiding Hamas “occurred in significant part” in New York — like trips taken by UNRWA personnel to the United Nations in New York City to secure funding from donor countries — the federal court in New York in which they filed their lawsuit has jurisdiction to making a ruling in the case.

Plaintiffs include not only victims of the attack but also families and representatives of those murdered by Hamas on Oct. 7. They demand a trial by jury and are seeking damages “in an amount to be proven at trial.”

The post Victims of Oct. 7 Massacre Sue UNRWA for Funding Hamas, Giving Terrorists a ‘Safe Haven’ in Its Gaza Facilities first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Hundreds of Israelis have been moving to Canada since Oct. 7—and a Hebrew website has been here to help

When Michal Harel and her family moved to Canada from Israel in April of 2019, they had a hard time getting settled. Between learning English, finding a home, acquiring work permits, and of course navigating the more restrained social norms in Canada, Harel and her husband, Avital Epstein, struggled to get their new life in […]

The post Hundreds of Israelis have been moving to Canada since Oct. 7—and a Hebrew website has been here to help appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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