CNN reports that President Obama and his circle of officials have been digging themselves deeper into the hole of a minor scandal which erupted in the wake of his comments regarding the January 17th attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, which the president referred to as “random.”
Republican Party members did not miss the opportunity to criticize the president’s comments as anti-Semitic and emphasize that Obama is out of touch with the terrorist threats facing the global community.
Originally, the comments in question were made by the president in an interview with Vox, published on Monday, in which Obama gave his opinion on the “bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” What was offensive to many, including the Jewish community, was the characterization of the supermarket attack as “random” rather than targeted. It was, in fact, an attack in the name of ISIS, on a kosher establishment, on a Friday afternoon, when Jews are preparing for the Sabbath. All the people killed at the kosher supermarket were Jews. The attacker even said, in an interview with BFM-TV, that he intended to defend Palestinians and target Jews, according to Reuters.
In response to questions about the offensive comment, White House spokesman Josh Earnest and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki both attempted to defend the President’s statement, but still stopped short of characterizing the attack as aimed at the Jewish community of Paris. “It is clear from the terrorists and the writings that they put out afterward what their motivation was,” said Earnest. “The adverb that the president chose was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible, tragic incident were killed not because of who they were but because of where they randomly happened to be.”
Psaki, in a similar vein, offered, “Well, as you know, I believe if I remember the victims specifically, they were not all victims of one background or one nationality.” When asked again, directly, by a reporter, whether the White House believed that the attack targeted the Jewish community, Psaki refused to “speak on behalf of French authorities and what they believe was the situation at play here.”
On Wednesday, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (Rep.) released a statement decrying President Obama’s choice to “deny the vicious anti-Semitic motivation of the attack.” Perry went on, “What he called a ‘random’ attack was obviously meant to kill Jews…which is precisely what happened. The individual victims may have been those unlucky enough to be in the grocery that day, but it was far from random.”
Perry pointed out that incidents of anti-Semitism are on the rise throughout Europe. He argued that the president’s first mistake was not speaking about the trend. “While there is no easy solution to this terrible problem, our response must begin with acknowledging exactly what’s going on – and that is the test Mr. Obama failed. It’s time to tell the truth.”