Obama omits anti-Semitism in description of Paris kosher supermarket attack

President Barack Obama. Credit: White House.

(JNS.org) President Barack Obama and his staff are under fire for the president’s omission of anti-Semitism in a description of the recent Islamist terror attack that killed four Jewish shoppers at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris.

“It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris,” Obama said in an interview with Vox.

Pressed by reporters to clarify the president’s remarks, Obama administration spokespeople continued to downplay the fact that the attack targeted Jews. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, responding to a question from Jonathan Karl of ABC News regarding whether he thought the supermarket was attacked “because it was a kosher deli,” said, “No, Jon. Any random deli, Jon.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, asked by Associated Press reporter Matt Lee if the Obama administration believes “this was an anti-Jewish attack” and “an attack on a Jewish community in Paris,” responded, “I don’t think we’re going to speak on behalf of French authorities and what they believe was the situation there.” On the day of the incident in January, however, French President Francois Hollande had called it an “appalling anti-Semitic attack.” 

Psaki also said that the victims of the Hyper Cacher attack “were not all victims of one background or nationality” when, in fact, all four people killed at the supermarket were Jewish.

Earnest and Psaki changed course on Twitter following the media firestorm surrounding their comments. Earnest tweeted, “Our view has not changed. Terror attack at Paris Kosher market was motivated by anti-Semitism. POTUS (Obama) didn’t intend to suggest otherwise.” Psaki tweeted, “We have always been clear that the attack on the kosher grocery store was an anti-Semitic attack that took the lives of innocent people.”

Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said that it is “impossible to understand the lengths this administration goes to deny a blatant anti-Semitic terrorist attack in Paris.”

“Who is this president worried about offending by calling this an anti-Semitic attack?” Brooks said. “Remembering the innocent people killed by these terrorists because of their religious beliefs should be paramount for our president. These statements by the president and his administration send the wrong message to both the Jewish community and the terrorists who are responsible for these heinous acts.”

Posted on February 11, 2015 .