Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA

 


Maroon 5’s Adam Levine offers to pay funeral expenses for slain singer Christina Grimmie

(JTA)—Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine has offered to pay for the funeral for slain singer Christina Grimmie.

Grimmie’s brother, Marcus, announced Monday in a post on his Facebook page that Levine—Grimmie’s coach on the sixth season of “The Voice”—had offered to pay for the cost of the funeral and flying her body home from Orlando, Florida, where she was killed Friday by a deranged fan while she was signing autographs following a concert.

He also said a GoFundMe page set up to help defray the costs of the burial had reached $100,000.

“I found out this morning, that Adam Levine personally called my mother and said he will pay for the funeral and her plane flight, and I was blown away,” Marcus Grimmie wrote. “Now a friend just told me to look at the gofundme page and I see it is at 100k. Words cannot express...literally I have no words.”

In a Twitter post Saturday, Levine, who is Jewish, said he and his wife were “absolutely devastated and heartbroken” at the news of Grimmie’s death.

Grimmie, who lived in the southern New Jersey town of Marlton, finished in third place on “The Voice,” the NBC reality singing competition. She had released two albums and remained popular with fans.

French Jews outraged by ISIS sympathizer’s killing of cop couple near Paris

(JTA)—French Jews voiced outrage over the killing of two police officers, a husband and wife, at their home near Paris by an avowed fighter for the Islamic State group.

Francis Kalifat, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, on Tuesday tweeted, “This barbarism must stop.” He also expressed solidarity with the family and security forces.

Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and Jessica Schneider were killed Wednesday evening in front of their 3-year-old son. The assailant, Larossi Abballa, live-streamed the horror on Facebook.

Abballa, 25, stabbed Salvaing nine times as the officer was entering his home in Magnanville. Abballa, who shortly before the stabbings said on Facebook he was a fighter for Islamic State, shouted “Allah is the greatest” in Arabic before the fatal attack, the French news agency AFP reported.


The assailant, who lived near the couple, entered the officers’ home and killed Schneider. Abballa then took the couple’s son hostage. Police freed the son and killed Abballa.

During the standoff, Abballa posted on Facebook a 13-minute live feed and photographed the bodies of the couple and their child while pledging allegiance to Islamic State commander Abu Bakr al Bagdadi. The video has since been pulled offline.

“I would like to express all forms of solidarity with the National Police and with the victims,” Kalifat wrote. “This barbarism must stop.”

French security forces have been watching Abballa for several months in connection to his ties to a Syrian branch of the Islamic State group, Radio J reported.

The A’maq news agency, which is affiliated with Islamic State, published on Tuesday details about Salvaing—namely his position as deputy head of a police station—which were not reported in French media at the time. French President Francois Hollande described the stabbing as “unquestionably a terrorist act.”


In a statement, CRIF linked the attack to the bloodbath in Orlando, in which an Islamist killed 49 people early Sunday morning, and the murder of four Israelis in Tel Aviv on June 8 by Palestinian terrorists.

“Days after the attacks in Tel Aviv and Orlando, this attack demonstrates yet again that the fight against Islamic terrorism is a global affair,” CRIF wrote in a statement.

Moche Lewin, the executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis, expressed “solidarity” with French police in a post on his Twitter account.

Many French Jews regard attacks by Islamists and others on police and military as closely related to their own safety.

The Islamist who in 2012 murdered four Jews at a school in Toulouse gunned down three soldiers before he targeted the Jewish institution. The jihadist who murdered four people at a kosher shop in January 2015 also killed a police officer the previous day.


Following those attacks, approximately 12,000 military and police were posted outside Jewish institutions, where they are sometimes attacked. CRIF and other groups often stage gestures expressing their gratitude to security forces at community events, and regularly condemn attacks on them in the harshest terms.

Man shoots himself in the leg at iconic Zabars in NYC

(JTA)—A man waiting in line at Zabars, a mecca for Jewish foodies on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, accidentally shot himself in the leg.

The gun in the waistband of his pants discharged at the Zabars cafe on Tuesday morning, according to local reports. The man, identified as being 48 years old, fled the store and later took himself to a local hospital, dnainfo reported.

He was taken into police custody for questioning. It is not known if he was carrying the gun legally.

The New York Post reported that the man had planned to rob the store, which specializes in smoked fish and gourmet food.

The cafe remained closed after the shooting, but the supermarket remained open, according to reports.

The gun in the waistband of his pants discharged at the Zabars cafe on Tuesday morning, according to local reports. The man, identified as being 48 years old, fled the store and later took himself to a local hospital, dnainfo reported.

He was taken into police custody for questioning. It is not known if he was carrying the gun legally.

The New York Post reported that the man had planned to rob the store, which specializes in smoked fish and gourmet food and has a large Jewish clientele.

The cafe remained closed after the shooting, but the supermarket remained open, according to reports.

After Orlando, Donald Trump ramps up calls to ban Muslim entry, monitor US Muslims

WASHINGTON (JTA)—Donald Trump ramped up his calls to cut off Muslim entry into the United States and to monitor U.S. Muslims in the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, through his Twitter feed and speaking to news outlets on Monday, said a substantial threat existed among Muslims overseas and in the United States.

“First of all, we have to stop people coming in from Syria, we’re taking them in by the thousands,” Trump told CNN, referring to Obama administration policy on Syrian refugees, which has allowed in just over 2,000 this year and sets an annual maximum of 10,000.

“This will only get worse because we have very weak leadership,” he said, and called for more monitoring of American Muslims. “We need intelligence gathering, we have to look at the mosques, we have to look at the community.”

Omar Mateen, the attacker who killed 49 people in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday, was American born. He pledged allegiance to Islamic State during the attack. An array of Muslim-American groups has condemned the attack.

Speaking to Fox News Channel, Trump increased the number of Syrians he claims to be entering the country each year to “tens of thousands” and said they were not vetted. U.S. officials vet asylum applicants from Syria for up to two years before allowing them in.

Trump accused Muslims in the United States of not reporting terrorists in their midst.

“You have many, many people, thousands of people living in our country, people who are around them, Muslims, know who they are,” he said. “People in his community,” Trump said, referring to Mateen, “and their community, they know who the people are, almost in every case, they know who they are, they brag about it, they talk about it, they have to turn them in.”

He did not cite evidence showing that Mateen’s coreligionists in his south Florida community knew he was planning a terrorist attack. Local and federal law enforcement agencies generally work closely with Muslim community leaders to track radicals.

Trump called on President Barack Obama to resign and Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, to quit the race for not saying that “radical Islam” is at fault.

Clinton rejected the accusation.

“I have clearly said that we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people,” she told NBC. “We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism and we will. And to me, radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I’m happy to say either, but that’s not the point.”

Obama, speaking just prior to a briefing on the mass killing by FBI chief James Comey, described the attack as emblematic of “homegrown extremism” that “perverts” Islam, and said it was critical to confront the ideology fueling it.

“Countering this extremist ideology is increasingly going to be just as important as making sure we’re disrupting” Islamic State activities overseas,” he said.

Trump on Fox appeared to suggest that Obama knew more about radical Islamic plots than he was saying.

“He doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anyone understands, it’s one or the other, and either one is unacceptable,” Trump said of Obama.

Even before the shooting, Trump was promising to make his proposed ban on Muslims a centerpiece of his campaign. On Friday, he told a conservative Christian group he would defend Israel and protect American Christians.

“We will respect and defend Christian Americans,” Trump said in an address to the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference in Washington, D.C. “Christian Americans,” he added, for emphasis.

He said Americans faced dangers from Islamic extremists, and he would keep them out, promising “new immigration controls to keep us safe from radical Islamic terrorism.”

He said at the Christian forum that his policy would extend to protecting Israel as well.

“We must continue to forge our partnership with Israel and work to ensure Israel’s security,” he said.

Later Monday, in a policy speech delivered in New Hampshire, Trump doubled down on his proposal to ban Muslim entry until the United States is “in a position to properly and perfectly screen those people coming into our country.”

“The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here,” he said.

After Orlando shooting, an expert warns about who’s guarding Jewish sites

WASHINGTON (JTA)—Jewish institutions must react to the flaws in the security industry exposed by the mass shooting in Orlando, the top Jewish community security official said.

Paul Goldenberg, who directs the Secure Community Network, said Omar Mateen’s employment by a prominent security firm, G4S, should raise alarm for Jewish groups that hire security staffers from that firm and other contractors.

“We need to rethink the process and not depend on the lowest bidder,” Goldenberg told JTA on Sunday, emphasizing that he was not singling out G4S, but noting that many Jewish institutions used outside contractors. “The Jewish community has come to rely on private security professionals. We need to consider who to hire.”

Mateen pledged loyalty to the Islamic State in communications with police during his attack on a gay nightclub early Sunday, in which he killed 49 people and wounded 53. He was killed during the attack, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Goldenberg, whose SCN is an affiliate of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said security staff often have minimum screening and training, and are paid minimum wage.

“A lot of these companies, they’re hiring folks out of need,” he said. “The rates are very low that people are paid and they need to hold on to these guards.”

Goldenberg said contractors often screen staff just once and are hesitant to act even when alerted to unusual behavior.

“When do you step up and say something’s not right?” he asked. “When you see something that’s not right or you feel it, who do you report it to? And do these companies have a mechanism in place for that purpose? So it’s a real hot topic. And my concern is that we’ve gone so far the other way that people are afraid to speak up.”

G4S said in a statement it was cooperating with law enforcement. It said Mateen was employed as a guard at a residential community in South Florida and that it had screened him twice, once in 2006 when he was hired and again in 2013. G4S said it was found “no adverse findings” in its screenings, and that it was not informed of separate screenings by law enforcement.

NBC reported that the FBI had screened Mateen at least twice, including once in 2013 after co-workers said he made inflammatory statements about radical Islam. A colleague, Daniel Gilroy, told USA Today he had informed G4S about Mateen’s homophobic and racially charged comments.

Israeli leaders, US Jewish groups mourn Orlando shooting

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his condolences to the American people in the wake of the mass shooting attack by an ISIS supporter at a gay club in Orlando.

“We are all shocked at the horrific massacre in Orlando. On behalf of the government and people of Israel, I would like to again express our condolences to the American people and the families at this especially difficult hour. This terror threatens the entire world and it is necessary—first of all—that the enlightened countries urgently unite to fight it. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the American people,” Netanyahu said Monday morning at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wrote to President Barack Obama to express his condolences following the attack in Orlando.

“Once again we feel the pain of terrible loss as we see the blood spilled of young and innocent people. There is no comfort for those who have had their loved ones torn away from them,” Rivlin wrote.

“This attack against the LGBT community in Orlando is as cowardly as it is abhorrent. The Israeli people stand shoulder to shoulder with our American brothers and sisters in the moral and just fight against all forms of violence and hatred. On behalf of all of Israel, I send my condolences to the families of the victims, and prayers for a speedy recovery of the injured.”

Forty-nine people were killed after Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, entered the Pulse nightclub armed with an assault rifle and a handgun after 2 a.m. Sunday and opened fire. Mateen, an American-born citizen whose parents are from Afghanistan, called 911 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State shortly after the start of the attack.

Jewish groups condemned the attack.

“An attack on a prominent Orlando gay club at the start of pride month on a night that celebrated the Latino community has all the markers of both an unconscionable hate crime and an act of terrorism on a scale we have not before witnessed in America,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

“This heinous attack on a nightclub serving the LGBTQ community is yet another reminder of the serious threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group, which has inspired attacks against Jews in Belgium, journalists in France, civilians in San Bernardino and now LGBTQ men and women in America.”

Greenblatt cautioned that “Americans should not blame all Muslims for the actions of one individual. Whether citizens like the individual suspected of committing this act or war-torn refugees seeking safety, we must remember that we do not define people by their faith. We are deeply concerned that this attack could lead to a backlash against American Muslims. We urge all Americans to not fight hatred with hatred, but rather to come together around our common values of decency and respect.”

B’nai B’rith International said in a statement that it is “shocked” by the attack, adding: “The sheer number of dead (at least 50) and wounded (at least 53) defies comprehension.” The group said it “stands in solidarity with the LGBT community.”

“On behalf of the Israeli-American community, we condemn this act of terrorism in the strongest terms. Whether terrorism strikes in Brussels, Paris, Tel Aviv, or Orlando—responsible leaders, policymakers, and moral people everywhere have a duty to speak out forcefully against this global evil, and to stand against the hateful ideology that fuels it. This is a growing danger that threatens innocents everywhere,” B’nai B’rith said.

The Israeli-American Council said in a statement: “On behalf of the Israeli-American community, we condemn this act of terrorism in the strongest terms. Whether terrorism strikes in Brussels, Paris, Tel Aviv, or Orlando—responsible leaders, policymakers, and moral people everywhere have a duty to speak out forcefully against this global evil, and to stand against the hateful ideology that fuels it. This is a growing danger that threatens innocents everywhere.”

The National Council of Jewish Women condemned the mass shooting in a statement released Sunday evening.  “We are all wounded by the fear engendered by gun attacks on civilians and by the menace of prejudice that too often endangers individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer and threatens members of the Latino community,” the group’s statement said.

“NCJW is guided by Jewish values, including the Talmudic teaching that for ‘one who takes one life it is as though that person has destroyed the universe, and an individual who saves one life is as though that person has saved the universe.’ We must all renew our efforts to stop the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”

 

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