US President Barack Obama once again sparked outrage when he referred to the four Jewish victims of an Islamic terror attack on a Kosher supermarket in Paris last month as “random”. He also continued to stubbornly refuse to identify the extremist religious motivation behind the shootings.
Speaking to Vox magazine editors Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias Monday, Obama said, “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.”
This bizarre description of the events of January 9, in which four Jews were murdered in a HyperCacher market just because they were Jews, downplays the religions of both the perpetrator and the victims and consequently undermines efforts to fight Islamist terrorism or protect the innocent.
Obama’s statement was part of a longer response to Yglesias’ question on whether Obama feels the media sensationalizes terror at the expense of other global issues, such as the environment.
“Look, the point is this: my first job is to protect the American people,” Obama explained. “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. We devote enormous resources to that, and it is right and appropriate for us to be vigilant and aggressive in trying to deal with that — the same way a big city mayor’s got to cut the crime rate down if he wants that city to thrive.”
“But we also have to attend to a lot of other issues, and we’ve got to make sure we’re right-sizing our approach so that what we do isn’t counterproductive. I would argue that our invasion of Iraq was counterproductive to the goal of keeping our country safe.”
Twitter users called the statement “unreal”, “odd” and “borderline anti-Semitism”. One user asked if Obama thought the Nazis had also put “folks” in the gas chambers “randomly”.
The maelstrom was picked up by news sites such as The Blaze, Jewish Press and Breitbart. Speaking to The Algemeiner, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said, “President Obama absolutely misspoke – if he wants to check the facts, he should talk to his special envoy on antisemitism at the State Department.”
He continued, “We’re talking about an explosion of anti-Semitism on this continent, and a convergence of anti-Semitic hate with terrorism. As we know, many Jews left France last year, well before the January attacks. Here in France, people in authority, especially the leaders of the country, have their eyes wide open to the nature of this problem and the seriousness of the situation. There’s nothing ‘random’ about the threats against Jewish targets, which is why the government has put 10,000 troops on the ground to protect the Jewish community.”