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Major Australian City Considers Boycott of Israel Amid Explosion of Antisemitic Hate

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore addressing media during a press conference on March 1, 2024. Photo: Dan Himbrechts via Reuters Connect.

A major Australian city may soon adopt the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel amid a surge in antisemitic incidents there.

The city council of Sydney — one of Australia’s largest and wealthiest cities — on Monday passed a motion calling on lawmakers to review its investment portfolio to determine whether it is linked to companies which provide arms and other services to the state of Israel. Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who is not formally affiliated with any political party, backed the idea.

“Leaders must strive to break the cycle of violence in this region and ensure that neither Israelis nor Palestinians live in fear and at risk of harm or death. Now more than ever, we must use our voices to call for peace,” Clover said in comments quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald. “If the city’s voice in this campaign can put additional pressure towards a ceasefire and an end to the humanitarian crisis, then I think we should carefully review our investments and suppliers.”

The passing of the motion — reportedly initiated by Green Party councilor Sylvie Ellsmore, Labor Party councilor Linda Scott, and Yvonne Weldon, another independent — was met with a burst of acclamation from anti-Zionist activists who attended the session in which it was considered. Among the companies singled out by the measure was Hewlett-Packard, a US-based company which has a government contract with the city and has invested over $100 million in building data centers there.

Australia’s Jewish community expressed outrage at the city council’s decision to pursue a potential boycott.

“Elected officials should not to be peddling in racism and hatred. They can attempt to hide behind deceptive language, but their actions must be called out for what they are: racism and Jew-hatred,” Australian Jewish Association CEO Robert Gregory said in a statement. “Of course, nobody in the Middle East will take notice of some entitled local councilors inserting themselves into an international conflict. What the Jewish community will take notice of, is that this is the latest in a series of actions hostile to the Jewish community taken by Mayor Clover Moore. We thank the Liberal councilors for being the only ones on Council to stand with the Jewish community and against this ugly hatred.”

The BDS movement seeks to isolate Israel on the international stage as the first step toward the Jewish state’s eventual elimination. The pro-BDS effort in Sydney came as anti-Jewish hate crimes in Australia continued to spike amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

As The Algemeiner has previously reported, the number of attacks on Jews — digital, political, and physical — has skyrocketed in Australia since Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7. In just the first seven and a half weeks after the Oct. 7 atrocities, antisemitic activity in Australia increased by a staggering 591 percent, according to a tally of incidents by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

In one notorious episode in the immediate aftermath of the Hamas onslaught, hundreds of pro-Hamas protesters gathered outside the Sydney Opera House chanting “gas the Jews,” “f—k the Jews,” and other epithets.

The explosion of hate also included vandalism and threats of gun violence, as well as incidents such as a brutal attack on a Jewish man in a park in Sydney.

In late October, an elderly Jewish man was walking through a children’s playground in Arncliffe when he spotted an advertisement for a pro-Palestinian rally that had already been held and was mostly torn, according to Sky News Australia. He “absent-mindedly” tore the rest of it down, the report noted, but a father at the children’s playground saw him and approached, asking if he supported Israel and threatening, “I will murder you.”

Frightened, the man called the police, but they did not arrive before an anti-Israel mob of men and women quickly encircled him, shouting slurs and insults. Someone reportedly thumped him on the back of his head, knocking him to the ground. Then, three men joined in and proceeded to punch and kick him while calling him a “pro-Jew dog” among other names.

In another incident in December, far-left Australian politician Jenny Leong spread conspiracies about the “tentacles” of a so-called “Jewish lobby” and “Zionist lobby” influencing policy, an insidious expression of antisemitic demagoguery that was once limited to the fringes of the political spectrum but has now become mainstream in the pro-Palestinian movement.

“They [the Jewish and Zionist lobby] rock up to every community meeting and event to offer that connection because their tentacles reach into the areas that try and influence power and I think that we need to call that out and expose that,” Leong proclaimed at a Palestine Justice Movement forum in Sydney.

Video of Leong’s comments surfaced in February, forcing the lawmaker to apologize for her remarks.

Jewish students at the University of Sydney have also been targeted by pro-Hamas groups, a pattern of behavior that is reportedly the subject of a forthcoming class action lawsuit. This month, The Daily Telegraph reported that a law firm in the city is seeking potential witnesses for a complaint alleging that Jewish students were victims of “sustained and toxic” antisemitism during a pro-Hamas group’s occupation of campus — on which it erected a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” where members lived and refused to leave unless school administrators commenced a boycott of Israel — at the end of the academic year.

“We have received numerous, concerning reports of anti-Jewish intimidation and harassment on campus. Instead of removing the hate encampment, the university has surrendered to the camp’s demands,” Gregory told The Telegraph, commenting on the news. “It certainly doesn’t surprise me that legal action is being contemplated, but it is upsetting that the University of Sydney has allowed the situation to deteriorate this badly.”

Pro-Hamas sentiment has also led to vandalism. Earlier this month, the US consulate in Sydney was vandalized and defaced by an unidentified man carrying a sledgehammer who smashed the windows and graffitied inverted red triangles on the building.

The inverted red triangle has become a common symbol at pro-Hamas rallies. The Palestinian terrorist group, which rules Gaza, has used inverted red triangles in its propaganda videos to indicate Israeli targets about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “the red triangle is now used to represent Hamas itself and glorify its use of violence.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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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.


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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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