Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish leaders condemn Orlando mass-shooting


Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the terror attack at a lesbian and gay nightclub in Orlando, which left 49 people dead and 53 injured in the early hours of Sunday morning.

In a statement after the mass-shooting at the Pulse club, which was carried out by self-radicalised Islamist Omar Mateen, the Israeli prime minister said: “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 and tragic hour.”

Condemning the spike in terror attacks a week after Israel celebrated Gay Pride in Tel Aviv, Mr Netanyahu added: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with the American people.”

In wake of the attack, the worst mass-shooting in US history, the Tel Aviv Municipality building displayed the rainbow flag in solidarity with victims of the attack. In Jerusalem, people gathered in Zion Square with rainbow flags and placards that displayed messages of support.

David Quarrey, Britain’s ambassador to Tel Aviv, who is gay, tweeted a message of support for victims of the attack. He said his thoughts were “with the United States”.

President Barack Obama, who has confirmed that American-born Mateen was radicalised on the internet, said: “First of all, our hearts go out to the families of those who have been killed. Our prayers go to those who have been wounded. This is a devastating attack on all Americans. It is one that is particularly painful for the people of Orlando, but I think we all recognize that this could have happened anywhere in this country. And we feel enormous solidarity and grief on behalf of the families that have been affected.”

Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, said the attack was a “heinous act of terror”.

He said it was: “One of the most senseless, barbaric and horrifying tragedies our country has witnessed in modern times. We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms and send our deepest condolences to the families affected. As we mourn the innocent victims, our thoughts and prayers will remain with Orlando. We cannot afford to give in to terror, fear and hate. We must remain united through the common bonds of freedom we all share as Americans, no matter our religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”

The terror attack was widely condemned by Jewish communities across the globe.

Idit Klein, the executive director of Keshet, an organisation which support LGBTQ Jews, said: “It is sickening that the deadliest mass shooting in American history targeted LGBTQ people during Pride month.

“When the shooter opened fire, many Jews were observing the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorated when the Jewish people stood together at Mount Sinai.”

She added: “We stand together in solidarity with the people of Orlando and with the LGBTQ people and allies everywhere.”

In the UK, a spokesman for the Reform Movement said: “Reform Judaism is appalled by the loss of innocent lives in Orlando and we condemn this act of homophobic terror.

“The worst mass shooting in US history is horrific in itself. But we must acknowledge the apparent deliberate targeting of the LGBT community. Equality is a core value of Reform Judaism and we stand in solidarity with LGBT people in Orlando and around the world.

“The victims and their families are in our prayers. But prayer must lead to action. We must challenge homophobia and transphobia wherever it manifests itself, not only in extremist acts and statements of hatred but in institutional prejudices and casual acts of disdain.”

Simon Benscher, Chair of Liberal Judaism, said: "I join Rabbi Mirvis in expressing our moral revulsion for the hatred that led to the massacre in Orlando. We share Rabbi Mirvis' assertion that there is absolutely no place for hatred or intolerance in our society.

It is important to understand that many religious Jews - progressive and orthodox - do not share the view that adherence to Judaism need lead to treating homosexuality and heterosexuality any differently from one another.

We support Rabbi Mirvis' call to reject religiously motivated homophobia within our own communities. As Liberal Jews we reflect on the implications of this for providing a welcoming environment in our Synagogues and beyond for all Jews, regardless of their sexuality. We believe that this can only be possible when we respect all Jews as equals.

We are proud to stand with LGBTQi+ people at this difficult time and to count so many as rabbis, leaders and friends within Liberal Jewish communities."

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