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Jewish Groups Express Sorrow, Horror Over Charleston Church Shooting

(JPost and combined sources) The United States joined in a choir of grief on Friday as it digested news of a shooting in a historic black church in South Carolina. Condemning the murder of nine, which took place during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest churches in the South, several groups cast the event as a hate crime.

“This is an unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy in this most historic church, an evil and hateful person took the lives of citizens who had come to worship and pray together,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told the Post and Courier newspaper in South Carolina.

“Our hearts are broken for the nine souls lost in Charleston last night,” the Jewish Federations of North America said in a statement. “To target peaceful worshipers for no apparent reason other than the color of their skin is abhorrent and horrendous.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s long-time national director, Abe Foxman, said he was reminded of a shooting that killed four black schoolgirls at a Birmingham church over 50 years ago.

“We should all be looking in the mirror this morning and asking ourselves how such a tragedy could happen in America in 2015, and what we can do to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” Foxman said.

In its own statement, the Rabbinical Assembly quoted Leviticus in its condemnation: “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor,” they said. “Hateful, violent acts such as this have no place in our society, in a country known for its diversity and blending of various cultures.” The Orthodox Union, representing Orthodox Jewish communities across the U.S., called the attack a heinous, senseless violence and brutal terror that “has no place anywhere in the world, but particularly not in a house of worship.”

U.S. officials, who are investigating the attack as a hate crime, arrested a 21-year-old white gunman accused in the shooting on Thursday. Law enforcement officials caught alleged gunman Dylann Roof, whose rampage on Wednesday came in a year that has seen months of racially charged protests across the U.S. over killings of black men.

A man who identified himself as the shooter’s uncle said he had recently been given a .45-caliber handgun as a birthday present by his father, and that the 21-year-old had seemed adrift.

The victims, six females and three males, included Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was the church’s pastor and a Democratic member of the State Senate, according to colleagues.

Palestinian Unity Government Between Fatah and Hamas Purportedly Ends

( The Palestinian unity government that was formed last year between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party and the Hamas terror group has purportedly ended. “[Palestinian unity government Prime Minister Rami] Hamdallah handed his resignation to Abbas, and Abbas ordered him to form a new government,” said Nimr Hammad, an adviser to Abbas, AFP reported. But some Fatah officials, including Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, have denied the reports of the resignation. Hamas said it was not informed of the dissolution of the government and rejected any unilateral moves.

“No one told us anything about any decision to change and no one consulted with us about any change in the unity government. Fatah acted on its own in all regards,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP on Wednesday.

Despite forging a deal a year ago to form a unity government made up of technocrats, little progress has been seen in reconciling the deep split between the two Palestinian factions, a rift that has divided the Palestinians since Hamas violently took control of Gaza in 2007. The purported ending of the unity government comes amid recent reports of indirect talks between Israel and Hamas regarding a long-term cease-fire and an easing of the blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, including the construction of a seaport in Gaza. At the same time, reports also indicate a softening stance between Hamas and the Egyptian government, as both continue to face threats from Islamic State–aligned terror groups in Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula.

Palestinian Authority to Broadcast New TV Channel in Israel via Satellite

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to The Palestinian Authority on Thursday launched a television channel called Palestine 48, which will broadcast in Israel via satellite. The target audience for the channel is Israel’s Arab minority, which makes up approximately 20 percent of the Jewish state’s population. Upon learning of the launch, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Israeli Communications Ministry, which he currently heads, to look into possible criminal and administrative measures to prevent the channel from broadcasting. The order came hours after the channel held a press conference in Nazareth for the official launch. Palestinian Communications Minister Riad Hassan said that “neither Netanyahu nor his extreme right-wing government will succeed in shutting down the station.” The Israeli Communications Ministry plans to investigate the legality of the channel’s PA funding, among other things.

“We will provide a platform for the other side as well, to right-wingers and ministers in the government,” Hassan said. “The objective is to provide a platform for the Arabs of 1948 so that they can reveal to the entire Arab world everything that they go through in terms of cultural, social and financial challenges. … We have no intention of undermining the rule of law in the State of Israel.” The PA’s official broadcaster in the disputed territories, PA TV, has been known for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic programming, a trend that is regularly documented by Palestinian Media Watch.

Heads of 100 Major German Companies to Visit Israel

( While many in Europe are calling for a boycott of Israel, a delegation of 100 German industry leaders is preparing for a trip to Israel to meet with top businesspeople in a show of support for the Jewish state, as part of the ongoing marking of 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Some of the companies to be represented in the group that arrives June 28 are SAP SE; BMW; Bosch; Deutsche Bank; Deutsche Telekom; Merck & Co., Inc.; Mercedes-Benz and Lufthansa.

The German visitors will spend two days in Tel Aviv for events organized by economy ministers from Germany and Israel. On the first day, they will attend an investors’ conference, where they will meet industry leaders, CEOs and owners of large Israeli companies. The second day will focus on innovation, and guests will speak with cutting-edge Israeli researchers.

Israel’s commercial attache in Berlin, Hemdat Sagi, told Israel Hayom that “in recent years, Germany is becoming more and more open to innovation and more interested in what’s going on in Israel. This is true both on a governmental level and a business level.”

Sagi added, “Large companies like Deutsche Telekom, Merck, and SAP SE are already conducting R&D activities in Israel. The job of the commercial office in Berlin is to bring new partners to cooperate with Israeli companies and to enjoy the interesting synergies being formed with the Israeli market.”

Five years ago, Israel and Germany signed an agreement to fund joint projects in the fields of biotechnology, water, environmental technology and security and defense technology. Now, efforts are being made to connect mid-sized and smaller-sized companies from the two nations.

Swedish Supermarket Chain Cancels Boycott of Israeli Products

( COOP, a national supermarket chain in Sweden, has backed out of a planned boycott of the sale of Israeli products. Several months ago, a pro-Palestinian proposal to boycott Israeli products was accepted by a majority vote in a local consumers’ assembly. But Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman, along with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, were able to get the supermarket chain to cancel the boycott.

“We didn’t talk about the righteousness of Israel, rather we spoke in the name of fair trade and avoiding discrimination [against] any state,” Bachman said, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

A grassroots effort by pro-Israel activists on Swedish social media had urged cancellation of the boycott, while the country’s Israeli embassy published the contact information of the supermarket chain’s executives, encouraging the public to contact them and voice their opposition to the planned boycott. Thousands of people threatened to boycott COOP if it went through with the boycott of Israel.

“There was a great protest. A lot of people here are against boycotts,” Bachman said. The supermarket’s executives “were shocked by the volume of messages they received,” which led them to make the decision to cancel the boycott, he added.

“The lesson I learned is that we must not, under absolutely no circumstances, give up, and we must launch a counter-campaign,” Bachman added. “If you go for the consumer side, without getting into the issue of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, your story would be better and stronger.”

Netanyahu Slams UN ‘Hypocrisy’ After Ban Ki-Moon Criticizes Gaza Operation

( Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “dark day” for the United Nations following UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s criticism of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against the Hamas terrorist group.

During a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday relating to a report expressing concern for the welfare of children in war zones, Ban lamented the suffering of “so many children” due to “Israeli military operations in Gaza last year.” Ban called on Israel to review “existing policies and practices” to prevent the killing and maiming of children.

“The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of the impact on children in 2014 raises grave concerns about Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law… [and] excessive use of force,” he said.

Responding to the UN leader, Netanyahu said Friday on Facebook, “This is a dark day for the UN. Instead of highlighting the fact that Hamas made hostages of Gaza’s children when it fired at Israel from preschools, the UN has again chosen to reproach Israel, which held itself to the highest moral standards in combat, as was determined just this past week by a group of senior American and European generals.”

“At the same time, Hamas—a terror organization—is awarded immunity by the UN, even though it has been proven beyond any doubt that it committed war crimes by firing from hospitals, mosques and from within UN facilities. It turns out there is no limit to hypocrisy,” Netanyahu added.

Israeli Man Killed in Shooting Terror Attack in Judea and Samaria

( Danny Gonen, a 25-year-old Israeli man, was shot to death in a terror attack in Judea and Samaria on Friday. Another 25-year-old man was moderately injured in the attack.

The two Israelis were reportedly driving near the Jewish community of Dolev in Judea and Samaria when a Palestinian man signaled them to stop and asked for directions before shooting them at point-blank range.

Both victims were taken to Tel HaShomer Hospital, where one of the men succumbed to his wounds and died. Israeli security forces are still searching for the suspect.

On Saturday, hundreds flocked to the Lod cemetery to pay their final respects to Gonen. Devora Gonen, his mother, said in a eulogy, “You lived your life as a Jew, free in his land. You loved this land, you loved truth and that is how you lived.”

Israeli Border Police Officer Critically Hurt in Jerusalem Terror Attack

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to An Israeli Border Police officer in his 20s was stabbed in the neck by an 18-year-old Palestinian terrorist Sunday morning at Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem’s Old City. The officer sustained critical wounds, but managed to shoot the attacker.

An emergency medical rescue team dispatched to the scene found the officer with multiple stab wounds to his neck and chest. He was evacuated to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center and placed in a medically induced coma. The Palestinian terrorist, a resident of Hebron, was also critically wounded and was evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

Jerusalem District Police Commander Maj. Gen. Moshe Edri lauded the wounded police officer for his “quick response despite a serious injury.”

“His response brought an immediate end to the event and prevented the injury of more innocent people,” Edri said.

PLO Official Urges Palestinian Authority to Revoke Any Recognition of Israel

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to A senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official and the former head of the Palestinians’ team for negotiations with Israel, Saeb Erekat, is calling on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to re-examine its relations with Israel and to integrate the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups into PLO institutions.

The Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported highlights from a 10-page document in which Erekat called to revoke any Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel and immediately cancel all economic and security cooperation between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

Erekat stressed that he was not calling to dismantle the PA, but that if the peace process remained at an impasse, the Palestinians should consider transferring the responsibility for the Palestinian population and internal matters in the West Bank onto Israel. Moreover, Erekat wrote, the Palestinians should never sign any peace deal with Israel that recognizes the latter as a Jewish state.

King David–Era Inscription Pieced Together From Broken Jug

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to A rare inscription dating back to the 10th century BCE, the estimated time of Jewish Kings David and Solomon, has recently been pieced together from fragments of a 3,000-year-old broken jar that were discovered near Israel’s Elah Valley.

Letters in an ancient Canaanite script were identified on some of the pieces of the vessel, sparking the researcher’s curiosity. After intense preservation work in the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) laboratories, which involved piecing hundreds of sections of the broken jar together, the inscription was completed and the mystery was solved: The jug had been engraved with the name “Eshbaal Ben Beda.”

Professors Yossi Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, who directed the dig for the Archaeological Institute of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the IAA, respectively, noted that “this is the first time the name ‘Eshbaal’ has appeared in an ancient inscription in Israel. The Bible makes reference to Eshbaal Ben Shaul, who ruled Israel alongside King David. Eshbaal was murdered by assassins, and his head was brought to David in Hebron (2 Samuel 3-4).”

This is the fourth inscription dating back to the ancient kingdom of Judea discovered thus far.

“The name Eshbaal appears in the Bible, and now on an archeological artifact, starting from the time of King David in the first half of the 10th century BCE,” Garfinkel and Ganor explained.

“The name wasn’t used in later periods of the First Temple. The match between biblical tradition and the archeological find demonstrates that this name was acceptable in this [specific] time period only. The name Beda is unique and has not been discovered in [other] ancient inscriptions or in biblical sources,” the archaeologists observed.

Coca-Cola Urged to Fire Palestinian Franchisee Who Supports BDS

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to The Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center civil rights group has urged the head of the Coca-Cola Company, Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, to cancel the beverage giant’s affiliation with Coca-Cola franchisee in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Zahi Khouri over the latter’s support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Khouri, who also holds US citizenship, authored a September 2014 op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel calling on European Union nations to prohibit companies from conducting business with Israel as “a means to force Israel to recognize that the occupation is not cost-free.”

Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat Hadin, stressed that Coca-Cola is a publicly held company whose Code of Business Conduct requires it to comply “with all applicable trade restrictions and boycotts imposed by the US government.”

“Coca-Cola also must abide by US laws that prohibit companies from participating in any international boycott not sanctioned by the US government,” Darshan-Leitner said.

Zionist Organization of America National President Morton A. Klein said Monday, “Zahi Khouri’s anti-Semitic remarks confirm him as an opponent of the Jewish State of Israel’s existence, one who seeks to ostracize, damage and ultimately overcome Israel by means of the BDS campaign of continual, progressive delegitimization of Israel so as to compel it to make untenable concessions to a Palestinian movement that has no intention of living in peace with Israel. This is unacceptable and indeed in conflict with Khouri’s role as CEO of a Coca-Cola subsidiary.”

Vizhnitz Rebbe Calls for Yeshiva Students to Enlist in IDF

Since December 2012, the Vizhnitz Rebbe had called on Yeshiva students to show up at IDF induction centers and refuse to be drafted or enlisted in the army, his reasoning based on the laws of modesty and an objection to the Israeli draft law.

According to Kikar Shabbat, the Rebbe has changed his ruling and has now instructed all of his students to enlist.

It was announced in Vizhnitz that the IDF induction centers are accommodating the Rebbe’s demands, and so he is instructing his students to enlist according to their requirements. This change in ruling was announced to the Chasidim this past Friday, and they were instructed to arrive at the centers on a special date while supervised by Yeshiva heads.

The announcement instructed those who had received a first-time order to enlist: “Students who have not yet enlisted according to the first army notice according to the orders of the Rebbe, as well as young men born until 27 of Tevet 5759 (01/16/1999) (although if you have not yet received first-time orders), will come together on a special enlistment date (and not on other days!) for the enlistment of all students of Vizhnitz.”

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