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Top Israeli Mental Health Doctor Axed From Conference in Australia After Threats From Pro-Hamas Activists

Israeli mental health expert Dr. Moshe Farchi. Photo: Screenshot

A world-renowned Israeli expert on trauma who developed Israel’s national model for addressing mental health emergencies has been axed from a medical conference in Australia after organizers were inundated with threats from pro-Hamas agitators.

Dr. Moshe Farchi — founder and head of Stress, Trauma and Resilience Studies in the department of Social Work at Tel-Hai College, a branch of Tel Aviv University — had been due to  speak at the Frontline Mental Health Conference in the Gold Coast which opened on Monday. According to the Australian Jewish Association (AJA), which has been publicizing Farchi’s treatment at the hands of conference organizers, the speaking invitation was extended six months ago. Farchi had already made the trip to Australia when he was informed that his appearance had been canceled along with his hotel accommodation.

“The actions of the organisers are a stain on Australia’s reputation and reminiscent of Nazi boycotts of Jewish academics,” Robert Gregory, AJA’s chief executive, said in a statement.Dr Farchi said that he has never experienced such antisemitism in his long career in academia. If there is a threat to Jews attending the conference, the organizers should have hired security, not expelled the Jew.”

In an email to Farchi, the Australia and New Zealand Mental Health Association, which is hosting the conference, said that the “influx of communications and protest-related information we’ve received in the past 24 hours has necessitated that we prioritize our duty of care above all else.”

The association told Farchi that it was “unable to accommodate your attendance and have consequently cancelled your registration for the Frontline Mental Health Conference.” The group assured Farchi that his travel expenses would be covered nonetheless.

According to Samantha Collingridge, general manager of AST Management, which is staging the conference, calls protesting Farchi’s presence started coming in last Friday.

“This continued throughout the weekend. Our security expert advised us that, based on the volume and nature of the abuse, there was insufficient time to conduct a thorough risk assessment at the hotel to ensure the safety of the 280-plus conference attendees. Dr Farchi was scheduled to speak at the conference today, March 4,” she said. As a result of AST’s assessement, said Sam Stewart, the association’s CEO, Farchi’s speech was nixed.

“The association has not taken a position on the current conflict between Palestine and Israel,” Stewart added.

A wide range of Jewish groups slammed the decision to remove Farchi, who also serves as Lt. Col. in the IDF and is one of the top mental health experts in the Israeli military.

Farchi’s speech “was cancelled because of the threat of violence of a bigoted few. He was cancelled because conference organizers folded in the face of intimidation,” said Jeremy Liebler, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA). “The intimidation tactics that led to the cancellation were bred in antisemitism. Those behind this move object to the existence of the world’s only Jewish state.”

Zeddy Lawrence — executive director of Zionism Victoria, which hosted Farchi for two talks in Melbourne last week — told the J-wire news outlet that the “feedback we had from those who attended Dr Farchi’s public address in Melbourne as well as those professionals who took part in his workshop the following day was exceptional.”

Added Lawrence: “What a travesty that Australian and New Zealand mental health professionals have been prevented from hearing from him. What an outrageous and shameful way to treat an internationally renowned doctor who has travelled halfway around the world to address your members.”

Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), remarked that the decision to cancel Farchi penalized local mental health professionals most of all.

“The biggest losers in this whole sorry affair were Australian frontline aid and emergency workers, who lost the ability to gain from Dr. Farchi’s unique and invaluable expertise in acute trauma and emergency mental health intervention,” he said. “Forged in Israel’s unique circumstances, this is expertise and experience they are not likely to have access to from any other source.”

In an interview with Sky News Australia, Farchi confessed that he had “not expected this kind of welcome.”

“I was really surprised,” he said. “I have so many good friends in Australia, so many people from my profession who I know quite well.”

One of the groups behind the protests against Farchi, calling itself “Families for Palestine,” on Monday welcomed the news of his cancelation.

The group had earlier launched a petition calling on organizers to “retract Moshe Farchi’s invitation and instead prioritize speakers who align with the values of justice, equity, and solidarity, including voices from Palestine.”


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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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