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How António Guterres Betrayed the Jews

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the UN headquarters in New York City, US, before a meeting about the conflict in Gaza, Nov. 6, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

JNS.org – Back in February, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres delivered a speech at the Ohel Jakob synagogue in Munich in which he struck most of the right notes.

Guterres acknowledged what Israel’s most diehard adversaries never will—that the Jewish people are indigenous to the historic Land of Israel. “I was in Masada,” he said. “And I lived the feeling of the Jewish people about the expulsion of the Roman Empire in the first century and how the Jewish community has spread in the Roman Empire but, since the beginning, became in the different areas of the empire, victims of different forms of segregation, discrimination and persecution.”

Antisemitism, Guterres also observed, “was not born with the Nazis and did not die with the Nazis.” Referring to his native Portugal, which expelled its Jewish population at the beginning of the 16th century, the U.N. chief bemoaned this “criminal” and “stupid” act for causing suffering to Jews and impoverishing the country culturally and economically. And, he continued, “antisemitism is unfortunately spreading today. It has had, I would say, a clear acceleration since the horrific attacks of Hamas on the seventh of October, but it was already a central concern for us in the last decades. We have seen how it was multiplying both online and offline with all kinds of manifestations, desecration of cemeteries, personal attacks on people, vicious actions online, and worst, an attempt to rewrite history.”

All of this is in keeping with Guterres’s previous comments on the issue, including his determination in 2017 that the “denial of Israel’s right to exist is antisemitism,” which is an enormously significant statement for the head of the world’s most thoroughly and consistently anti-Israel body. Additionally, during the coronavirus pandemic, Guterres spoke out more than once against the antisemitic memes that spread like wildfire in the “covidiocy” camp of anti-vaxxers and allied conspiracy theorists.

Yet there is one aspect of this issue on which he has remained silent. And that is the antisemitism that stains the organization he leads.

When Guterres rightly identified calls for Israel’s elimination as antisemitism—a contention that has been proven ad nauseam in the months since the Oct. 7 pogrom—it would have been natural for him, intellectually speaking, to examine how the United Nations has contributed to legitimizing this demand. In 1975, at the behest of the Soviet Union and its Arab allies, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution decrying Zionism as a form of racism, already established as a staple of Soviet propaganda. In the same year, the United Nations created a Division for Palestinian Rights dedicated to promoting and amplifying the themes in that resolution. Alongside this network is a so-called humanitarian agency, UNRWA, which is solely dedicated to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. No other dispossessed or persecuted people, inside or outside the Middle East, has been handed the same privilege. UNRWA has certainly risen to the occasion, spreading antisemitic ideology in the schools it runs and even employing Palestinians who participated in the Oct. 7 atrocities.

Then you have the U.N. Human Rights Council, which dedicates an entire agenda item to vilifying Israel, and which periodically pushes out ugly, unsubstantiated attacks on Israel through the guise of “independent experts.” One such report was released just last week by a team of three commissioners, one of whom, Miloon Kothari, famously accused the “Jewish Lobby” of controlling social media (if only, eh?)

In an environment like this one, it’s hardly surprising that Israel now finds itself on a blacklist with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia, Burma/Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen as states whose militaries systemically abuse children. Yet what is noteworthy here is that this list is provided by Guterres’ own office, which produces the annual “Children in Armed Conflict” report.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad also made the list, rubbing salt into the wound by equating Israel’s military with a bunch of murderers, rapists and deviants who derive pleasure from mutilating the dead and similarly bestial acts. Again, there is nothing remarkable about the world body drawing such a grotesque comparison. What is noteworthy is that it carries the endorsement of Guterres, who goes out of his way to portray himself as an ally of Jews when he speaks to Jewish audiences, but then doggedly sticks to the anti-Zionist script once he returns to Turtle Bay.

Because if Guterres really did believe in the points he made during his Munich speech, then he would not have assented to Israel’s inclusion on the blacklist. If he really appreciated the centrality of Israel as an anchor of security for Jews the world over, if he really grasped the mass trauma provoked by Oct. 7 for Israelis and Jews around the world alike, if he really knew in every fiber of his being that the Jewish people have only this one country that is currently facing a campaign of deadly violence orchestrated by Iran and its regional proxies, then Israel would not be sharing space with militaries whose sole raison d’être is the murder, torture and wholesale destruction of innocent civilians.

That is why Jews have every right to feel betrayed by Guterres. At least his predecessors, who included the late Austrian Nazi Kurt Waldheim, never raised our expectations and never cheated us into thinking that the United Nations was changing direction on Israel. Guterres dangled precisely that hope and then snatched it away.

Now he has lent his imprimatur to one of the worst antisemitic blood libels to emerge from the halls of the United Nations—and there have been many. The twisted logic that places Israel on such a list could easily be applied to the United States, the United Kingdom and France—all permanent U.N. Security Council members whose militaries have faced war-crime charges in countries like Algeria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But only Israel faces this treatment because targeting the Jewish state has become routinized and normalized in the U.N. setting.

That will only change when a successor to Guterres honestly appraises the world body’s own record of antisemitism and pledges to end it, first of all by dismantling all the elements—the committees, the various “independent” commissions, the anti-Israel agenda items set in stone—that contribute to this institutional bias. Only then can Jews gain any kind of trust in the United Nations. And that, for the foreseeable future, isn’t going to happen.

The post How António Guterres Betrayed the Jews first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after attending a military parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever.

The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in NATO but are at odds over numerous issues.

Their differences were laid bare on Saturday, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending a celebratory military parade in north Nicosia to mark the day in 1974 when Turkish forces launched an offensive that they call a “peace operation.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due later on Saturday to attend an event in the south of the Nicosia to commemorate what Greeks commonly refer to as the “barbaric Turkish invasion.” Air raid sirens sounded across the area at dawn.

Mitsotakis posted an image of a blood-stained map of Cyprus on his LinkedIn page with the words “Half a century since the national tragedy of Cyprus.”

There was jubilation in the north.

“The Cyprus Peace Operation saved Turkish Cypriots from cruelty and brought them to freedom,” Erdogan told crowds who gathered to watch the parade despite stifling midday heat, criticizing the south for having a “spoiled mentality” and seeing itself as the sole ruler of Cyprus.

Peace talks are stalled at two seemingly irreconcilable concepts – Greek Cypriots want reunification as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want a two-state settlement.

Erdogan left open a window to dialogue although he said a federal solution, advocated by Greek Cypriots and backed by most in the international community, was “not possible.”

“We are ready for negotiations, to meet, and to establish long-term peace and resolution in Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but a shared administration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots quickly fell apart in violence that saw Turkish Cypriots withdraw into enclaves and led to the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The crisis left Greek Cypriots running the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004 with the potential to derail Turkey’s own decades-long aspirations of joining the bloc.

It also complicates any attempts to unlock energy potential in the eastern Mediterranean because of overlapping claims. The region has seen major discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent years.

REMEMBERING THE DEAD

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, whose office represents the Greek Cypriot community in the reunification dialogue, said the anniversary was a somber occasion for reflection and for remembering the dead.

“Our mission is liberation, reunification and solving the Cyprus problem,” he said. “If we really want to send a message on this tragic anniversary … it is to do anything possible to reunite Cyprus.”

Turkey, he said, continued to be responsible for violating human rights and international law over Cyprus.

Across the south, church services were held to remember the more than 3,000 people who died in the Turkish invasion.

“It was a betrayal of Cyprus and so many kids were lost. It wasn’t just my son, it was many,” said Loukas Alexandrou, 90, as he tended the grave of his son at a military cemetery.

In Turkey, state television focused on violence against Turkish Cypriots prior to the invasion, particularly on bloodshed in 1963-64 and in 1967.

Turkey’s invasion took more than a third of the island and expelled more than 160,000 Greek Cypriots to the south.

Reunification talks collapsed in 2017 and have been at a stalemate since. Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, and its Turkish Cypriot leadership wants international recognition.

The post One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Putin Jails US Reporter Gershkovich in Sham Trial

A Russian secret court found U.S. reporter Evan Gershkovich guilty of espionage on Friday and sentenced him to 16 years in a maximum security penal colony in what his employer, the Wall Street Journal, accurately called “a disgraceful sham conviction.”

Gershkovich, a 32-year-old Jewish American who denied any wrongdoing, went on trial in the city of Yekaterinburg last month after being accused of trying to gather sensitive information about a tank factory.

He was the first U.S. journalist accused of spying in Russia since the Cold War, and his arrest in March 2023 prompted many U.S. and other Western correspondents to leave Moscow.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Gershkovich did not commit any crime and has been wrongfully detained.

“We are pushing hard for Evan’s release and will continue to do so,” Biden said in a statement. “Journalism is not a crime.”

Video of Friday’s hearing released by the court showed Gershkovich, dressed in a T-shirt and black trousers, standing in a glass courtroom cage as he listened to the verdict being read in rapid-fire legalese for nearly four minutes.

Asked by the judge if he had any questions, he replied “Nyet.”

The judge, Andrei Mineyev, said the nearly 16 months Gershkovich had already served since his arrest would count towards the 16-year sentence.

Mineyev ordered the destruction of the reporter’s mobile phone and paper notebook. The defense has 15 days to appeal.

“This disgraceful, sham conviction comes after Evan has spent 478 days in prison, wrongfully detained, away from his family and friends, prevented from reporting, all for doing his job as a journalist,” the Journal said in a statement.

“We will continue to do everything possible to press for Evan’s release and to support his family. Journalism is not a crime, and we will not rest until he’s released. This must end now.”

Gershkovich’s friend, reporter Pjotr Sauer of Britain’s Guardian newspaper, posted on X: “Russia has just sentenced an innocent man to 16 years in a high security prison. I have no words to describe this farce. Let’s get Evan out of there.”

Friday’s hearing was only the third in the trial. The proceedings, apart from the sentencing, were closed to the media on the grounds of state secrecy.

Espionage cases often take months to handle and the unusual speed at which the trial was held behind closed doors has stoked speculation that a long-discussed U.S.-Russia prisoner exchange deal may be in the offing, involving Gershkovich and potentially other Americans detained in Russia.

The Kremlin, when asked by Reuters earlier on Friday about the possibility of such an exchange, declined to comment: “I’ll leave your question unanswered,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Among those Russia would like to free is Vadim Krasikov, a Russian serving a life sentence in Germany for murdering an exiled Chechen-Georgian dissident in a Berlin park in 2019.

Officers of the FSB security service arrested Gershkovich on March 29, 2023, at a steakhouse in Yekaterinburg, 900 miles (1,400 km) east of Moscow. He has since been held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison.

Russian prosecutors had accused Gershkovich of gathering secret information on the orders of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency about a company that manufactures tanks for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

The Uralvagonzavod factory, which he is accused of spying on, has been sanctioned by the West. Based in the city of Nizhny Tagil near Yekaterinburg, it has publicly spoken of producing T-90M battle tanks and modernizing T-72B3M tanks.

Earlier on Friday, the court unexpectedly said it would pronounce its verdict within hours after state prosecutors demanded Gershkovich be jailed for 18 years for spying. The maximum sentence for the crime he was accused of is 20 years.

Russia usually concludes legal proceedings against foreigners before making any deals on exchanging them.

‘WRONGFULLY DETAINED’

Gershkovich, his newspaper and the U.S. government all rejected the allegations against him and said he was merely doing his job as a reporter accredited by the Foreign Ministry to work in Russia.

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia is open to a prisoner exchange involving Gershkovich, and that contacts with the United States have taken place but must remain secret.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that Washington was working every day to bring home Gershkovich, former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan and other Americans.

He declined to go into details when asked why Putin would reach a deal on Gershkovich’s release ahead of the U.S. election.

“Any effort to bring any American home is going to be part of a process of back and forth, of discussion, potentially of negotiation,” Blinken said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

“Depending on what the other side is looking for, they’ll reach their own conclusions about whether it meets whatever their needs are, and we can bring someone home – and I don’t think that’s dependent on an election in the United States or anywhere else,” he said.

Mark Warner, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, called Gershkovich’s sentence “outrageous,” and said he thinks “it’s clear that the Russians view Evan almost as a bargaining chip at this point.”

Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Warner declined to discuss whether efforts are underway to arrange an exchange for Gershkovich’s release, but said “all options have to stay on the table” with regards to how the Biden administration responds.

Friends who have exchanged letters with Gershkovich say he has remained resilient and cheerful throughout his imprisonment, occupying himself by reading classics of Russian literature.

At court appearances over the past 16 months – most recently with his head shaven – he has frequently smiled and nodded at reporters he used to work with before he himself became the story.

Since Russian troops entered Ukraine in 2022, Moscow and Washington have conducted just one high profile prisoner swap: Russia released basketball star Brittney Griner, held for smuggling cannabis, in return for arms dealer Viktor Bout, jailed for terrorism-related offenses in the United States.

The post Putin Jails US Reporter Gershkovich in Sham Trial first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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VP Harris Hits Fundraising Trail Amid Ongoing Calls for Biden to Quit Race

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will headline a fundraiser in Massachusetts on Saturday as President Joe Biden faces continued pressure from fellow Democrats and big money donors to end his floundering campaign.

Biden and top aides on Friday vowed to continue with the campaign, even as major donors signaled they were unwilling to open their checkbooks unless the 81-year-old president stepped aside.

The crisis-in-confidence in Biden’s ability to win has placed a huge spotlight on Harris, widely believed to be the most likely replacement if he steps down.

Her fundraising events, including the one on Saturday in Provincetown, Massachusetts are getting added interest from donors who want to signal they are willing to coalesce around her potential bid for the White House, according to three Democratic fundraisers.

More than one in 10 congressional Democrats have now publicly called on Biden, who is isolating at his Delaware home with a case of COVID-19, to drop out following a disastrous debate last month against Republican former President Donald Trump that raised questions about the incumbent’s ability to win the Nov. 5 election or carry out his duties for another four years.

Biden’s campaign hoped to raise some $50 million in big-dollar donations in July for the Biden Victory Fund but was on track for less than half that figure as of Friday, according to two sources familiar with the fundraising efforts.

The campaign called reports of a July fundraising slump overstated, noting that it anticipated a drop-off in large donations due to vacations. It said the campaign still has 10 fundraisers on the schedule this month.

Harris assured major Democratic donors on Friday that the party would prevail in the presidential election as more lawmakers called for her running mate, Biden, to stand down.

“We are going to win this election,” she said on a call arranged on short notice to calm donors, according to a person on the call. “We know which candidate in this election puts the American people first: Our president, Joe Biden.”

Harris attended the call “at the direct request of senior advisers to the president,” one of the people said, an account confirmed by another person familiar with the matter.

The post VP Harris Hits Fundraising Trail Amid Ongoing Calls for Biden to Quit Race first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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