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Israel says Elizabeth Tsurkov, Russian-Israeli Middle East analyst, is being held by Shiite militia in Iraq

(JTA) — Elizabeth Tsurkov, an expert on refugees and a Middle East analyst who has Russian and Israeli citizenship, has been held for months by a Shiite militia in Iraq, according to the Israeli government.

“Elizabeth Tsurkov is an Israeli-Russian dual citizen who has been missing in Iraq for several months and is being held by the Shiite militia Kataib Hezbollah,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Wednesday in a statement. “Elizabeth Tsurkov is still alive and we hold Iraq responsible for her safety and well-being.”

Tsurkov, 36, is currently a non-resident fellow at the Washington D.C.-based New Lines Institute, a foreign policy think tank. She is also a doctoral student at Princeton. The statement from Netanyahu’s office describes her as “an academic who visited Iraq on her Russian passport, at her own initiative pursuant to work on her doctorate and academic research on behalf of Princeton University in the U.S.”

The statement added, “The matter is being handled by the relevant parties in the State of Israel out of concern for Elizabeth Tsurkov’s security and well-being.”

The New York Times reported that she was kidnapped in late March shortly after leaving a cafe in a middle class Baghdad neighborhood.

“She was kidnapped in the middle of Baghdad, and we see the Iraqi government as directly responsible for her safety,” a statement from her family said. “We ask for her immediate release from this unlawful detention.”

Kataib Hezbollah, the group that has allegedly kidnapped Tsurkov, is separate from the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, though both are connected to Iran, according to The New York Times. Kataib Hezbollah led a 2019 attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Tsurkov’s capture has been known by those close to her for months. Israel’s government went public after a publication called The Cradle broke the news of her kidnapping earlier Wednesday.It is not clear where The Cradle, which is sharply critical of U.S. and Israeli policy, is based or who funds it.

Tsurkov, the daughter of Soviet Jewish refugees, became known in Israel for her advocacy on behalf of African refugees who came into the country in the last decade-plus. She also was an outspoken critic of Netanyahu’s previous governments and their treatment of Palestinians. The New York Times reported that she had visited Iraq 10 times, according to figures provided by the Iraqi government, which did not comment on her kidnapping.

“My research is informed by the desire to understand and convey the points of view and experiences of people in the Middle East, and highlight abuses by powerful actors, whether they are dictatorial regimes, armed groups or foreign countries intervening in the region,” she says on her personal website.

In February she denounced a retaliatory raid by Jewish settlers on a West Bank village as a “pogrom”. On March 18, she reported on Twitter that she was recovering from surgery for herniated discs. On March 21, she used the platform to report Kurdish protests of repression by a Turkish-backed militia in northwest Syria. Those were her latest tweets.

In 2014, Tsurkov engaged with Hamas on Twitter during Israel’s war with the Gaza-based terrorist group, chiding its social media team for ungrammatical Hebrew.

In 2021, commenting on an Israeli woman who was taken prisoner in Syria and then freed, Tsurkov foresaw the possibility that she, too, could be taken captive. “I am generally against prisoner exchanges (even if I get into trouble on my next visit to Syria/Iraq),” she wrote. “But given that it’s the policy of the state of Israel, quick action was the correct course.”

The post Israel says Elizabeth Tsurkov, Russian-Israeli Middle East analyst, is being held by Shiite militia in Iraq appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Williams College Rejects Divestment Proposal, Delivering Blow to Anti-Zionist Student Movement

Anti-Israel protesters outside Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City, April 22, 2024. Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

Williams College in Massachusetts has rejected a proposal to divest from weapons manufacturers that sell their products to Israel, delivering a substantial loss to the anti-Zionist movement in the final days of the academic year.

The school’s Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (ACSR) has been considering the proposal, put forth by a group which calls itself Jews for Justice (JfJ), since January. This month, it produced a report of recommendations that will be forwarded to the Williams College Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees.

In addition to rejecting JfJ’s demand that Williams College divest from weapons manufactures that do business with Israel, ASCR declined to make itself a permanent standing committee and to recommend adopting controversial Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles which have been pushed by far-left groups aiming to use the market as an accelerator of social change.

“The ACSR recommends to the Investment Committee that the college not divest from companies that sell weapons, reconnaissance tools, or vehicles used by the Israel Defense Forces, and that the college not divest from weapons manufactures,” the report says. “Having recommended that … in the absence of other specific requests for divestment, the ACSR recommends to the Investment Committee that the college not adopt a blanket, exclusionary approach to ESG investing.”

ASCR cited a number of reasons why the move would be disadvantageous to the college, including that some of its funds are potentially “commingled.” Divesting from them, it explained, “could have a negative impact on investment performance out of proportion to the negligible impact on the targeted company.” It also said that JfJ’s demands are “broad” and target companies such as Boeing, which “not only builds missiles, but also satellite systems and commercial aircraft.”

ASCR also explained that there is no “shared understanding” among scholars and experts, nor among its own community, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would make divestment from Israel as morally cogent as divesting from South Africa in the 1980s or, more recently, fossil fuels.

“The ACSR did receive feedback from some student groups, some faculty, and some staff in support of the Jews for Justice requests,” the report continued. “But oppositional perspectives within our community have also been expressed. The recent tumult on college and university campuses is but one reflection of the contentious nature of these complicated and emotionally charged issues.”

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) — a group that has been linked to terrorist organizations — and Jews for Justice — an anti-Zionist organization that represents a minority segment of opinion in the Jewish community — voluntarily ended its occupation of Williams College’s Sawyer Quad on May 18, conceding defeat after a two and half week standoff with the university that resulted only in promises of two meetings with administrators in the next four months.

“We ended the encampment, but we do not consider the outcomes of our negotiations to be a victory,” SJP told The Williams Record. “We will continue pressuring the administration until full divestment and implementation of ethical investment standards.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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University of Toronto offers a deal to protesters, but the school refuses to participate in academic boycotts of Israel

Representatives for the pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Toronto were still deciding on the morning of Friday May 24 how to respond to an offer from the school to either end the demonstration or be issued a notice of trespass. The offer was given in the afternoon of May 23, and gave the encampment […]

The post University of Toronto offers a deal to protesters, but the school refuses to participate in academic boycotts of Israel appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Model Bella Hadid Wears Keffiyeh Dress in Cannes in Support of ‘Free Palestine Forever’

Bella Hadid attends the red carpet of the film ”L’Amour ouf” (Beating Hearts) at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 23, 2024. Photo: Daniele Cifalà via Reuters Connect

Model Bella Hadid used fashion to make a political statement at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday by wearing a dress made from a keffiyeh, a headscarf traditionally worn by Palestinians that has become a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian cause and opposition to Israel.

In between premieres at the film festival, the model and fragrance designer walked the streets in Cannes, France, sporting a vintage Michael and Hushi “keffiyeh dress” from 2001 that was made from red and white keffiyehs. “I made [the dress] out of the keffiyeh fabric, which I still have nightmares about, as it wasn’t easy,” designer Hushidar Mortezaie was quoted as saying. Michael and Hushi also designed a black and white keffiyeh halter top worn by Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw in a season four episode of Sex and the City.

Hadid shared the meaning behind her outfit in a post that she uploaded late Thursday on her Instagram Story. She reposted an image of the original 2001 design, tagged the designers, and wrote in the caption, “Free Palestine forever.” She included an emoji of the Palestinian flag.

bella hadid’s wearing a vintage keffiyeh dress in cannes by michael and hushi

— ✭ (@badestoutfit) May 23, 2024

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war — which began after Hamas-led terrorists took around 250 Israeli and foreign hostages and killed 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7 — Hadid has repeatedly expressed solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. In a lengthy statement shared on Instagram in late October, she condemned the Hamas attacks, and said she stands in solidarity with “Palestine” and the “innocent Palestinian civilians” affected by the war.

“I believe deep in my heart that no child, no people anywhere, should be taken away from their family either temporarily or indefinitely. That goes for Israeli or Palestinian people alike,” she added. She also called for humanitarian aid to help “the urgent needs of the people of Gaza.”

During the Israel-Hamas conflict in 2021, Hadid participated in a pro-Palestinian rally where she chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state and for it to be replaced with a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. She has previously accused Israel of “colonization, ethnic cleansing, military occupation, and apartheid over the Palestinian people.”

Hadid’s father, Nazareth-born real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, recently criticized and sent racist messages to US Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) for supporting Israel. He has also accused Israel of occupation, colonialism, genocide, and apartheid. In March, he commented on the support US President Joe Biden has expressed for Israel after the Oct. 7 attacks, saying, “He will be in court with the rest of the Zionist criminals. We will hunt them down like they did the Nazis.” He also called Biden the “head of the Zionist project.”

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