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How Do Progressive College Protestors Justify Support from Hamas and Iran?

Pro-Hamas demonstrators at Columbia University in New York City, US, April 29, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

“Dear university students in the United States of America, you are standing on the right side of history. You have now formed a branch of the Resistance Front and have begun an honorable struggle in the face of your government’s ruthless pressure — which openly supports Zionists.”

This was the tweet from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei earlier this week, which had been viewed 11 million times at the time of writing.

What Khamenei tweeted — and he has recently evolved into a regular, almost obsessive tweeter — marks a disturbing trend: the increasing alignment of progressive groups in the United States with regimes and movements that starkly contrast with the values they claim to uphold and be fighting for.

Being hailed by Iran is not something a progressive activist in the West — concerned with freedom of speech, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, the right to protest, and the dangers of autocracy — should want on their resume.

It’s not just Iran. Hamas has also gone on record to support the protests. In April, Hamas spokesperson Izzat Al-Risheq accused President Biden of “violating the individual rights and the right to expression through arresting university students and faculty members for their rejection of the genocide to which our Palestinian people are being subjected in the Gaza Strip at the hands of the neo-Nazi Zionists.”

And the love affair goes both ways. At an anti-Israel protest at Stanford University, the FBI was called in after a protester was seen wearing a Hamas headband. Meanwhile, at the Columbia protests, students chanted “Hamas, we love you. We support your rockets too.”

In recent years, detailed analyses by political scientists and historians have highlighted the developing partnership between far-leftists and Islamic extremists — an alliance that has escalated exponentially since October 7th. The studies reveal how far-leftists and Islamic extremists have found common ground in their vehement opposition to alleged Western imperialism, capitalism, and perceived global dominance. This unlikely alliance is driven by a shared narrative of victimhood that compels them to resist a common enemy: the liberal democratic values of the West.

British author and academic Dave Rich, who serves as the Director of Policy at the Community Security Trust in the UK, has tackled the eager support for antisemitism by the far left.

In his 2016 book The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti‑Semitism, he argues that “the far-left’s willingness to overlook, and even embrace, the antisemitism inherent in Islamic extremism stems from a shared narrative of victimhood and oppression.” This is why this unlikely alliance often resorts to anti-Semitic tropes, suggesting that a shadowy Zionist elite controls global politics and economy, thereby oppressing the downtrodden.

Clearly, the alliance between far-leftists and radical Islamists is utterly misguided. Firstly, for progressives, it is a betrayal of the fundamental values of human rights and equality that are the trumpeted mantras of this group. By aligning with regimes and movements that oppress women, persecute minorities, and suppress free speech and freedom of expression, these keffiyeh-toting protestors are contradicting the very principles they claim to champion.

Additionally, it is ridiculous for Islamic extremists to align with progressives, given their deep-seated opposition to the progressive values of secularism, gender equality, and LGBTQ rights.

Astonishingly, progressive activists are willfully ignoring the historical and ongoing violence perpetrated by Islamists, not just against Israelis and Jews — which they might support — but against Muslims, Christians, gays, and women. Aligning yourself with organizations and regimes that glorify and celebrate terror and violence, as was so starkly evident in the GoPro footage taken by the Hamas terrorists on October 7th, is about as egregious a blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life as is possible. How do progressives explain that to themselves?

Finally, this absurd partnership has succeeded in perpetuating harmful antisemitic myths that do nothing but fuel division and hatred. Isn’t progressivism meant to be about fostering solidarity and mutual understanding? Surely progressives recognize that in their eagerness to oppose Western policies, they are aligning themselves with individuals and entities whose values are fundamentally at odds with their own.

This week’s Torah portion Bechukotai contains a section that provides a stark warning about the consequences of either upholding or forsaking Divine commandments and foundational principles. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in his commentary on Bechukotai, explains that the blessings and curses detailed in this portion are not just historical but serve as a moral and ethical compass for future generations. He explains, “The Torah warns us that societies are built on moral foundations. When those foundations are eroded, societies begin to unravel.”

Never has this warning seemed more relevant than today. With each passing week, we are witnessing Western society unravel more and more, and there appears to be no end in sight.

While my own ideals and views are right-of-center and conservative, I recognize the critical importance of debate and a marketplace of ideas that includes a robust left-of-center element. But somehow, somewhere, the left seems to have lost its compass. Aligning with regimes and movements that fundamentally contradict their values is not merely a perilous path; it is a sure route to destruction and devastation.

There is a saying in Jewish tradition: “Woe to the wicked, woe to their neighbors.” If you are connected to the wicked, that makes you wicked. The drift on the left towards aligning with Iran, Hamas, and other extremist entities is a clear example of the dangers of ignoring these timeless warnings.

There have always been crazy extremists on the far left — not just on the far right — whose views were abhorrent, and whose actions repulsive. But they were a small fraction of their group as a whole. The recent alarming growth on the left of those who totally sympathize and blindly identify with the views that define Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood demands a deep rethink.

It is crucial for well-meaning activists for the Palestinian cause to reconsider their position and to return to their foundational values of justice, freedom, and human dignity, lest we all face the consequences of their misguided actions. It is not too late, but we are not far off from a point of no return. Let us do everything we can to make sure that never happens.

The author is a rabbi in Beverly Hills, California.

The post How Do Progressive College Protestors Justify Support from Hamas and Iran? 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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