from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Why Can’t the White House See Terrorism and Anti-Semitism?

February 15, 2015

Blog Post
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Recently I wrote a post critical of President Obama for calling the killings at a kosher grocery in Paris "random." Quite obviously they were not; they were meant to kill Jews.

Today a meeting in Copenhagen supporting freedom of speech, and then the main synagogue there, were attacked. What did the White House say?

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan on the Shooting in Copenhagen

The United States condemns today’s deplorable shooting in Copenhagen. We offer our condolences to the loved ones of the deceased victim, and our thoughts are with those wounded in this attack. We have been in close contact with our Danish counterparts and stand ready to lend any assistance necessary to the investigation.

It wasn’t "a deplorable shooting." It was a murderous act of terrorism, but the word "terrorism" is of course missing. It wasn’t "random," either. But this White House is loathe to say "Islamist terrorism" or to be candid about the perpetrators and the victims.

Now that White House statement, it has been reported, came before the murder at the synagogue. Hours have gone by, and I await the next statement--which I hope will at least acknowledge that this was terror, Islamist terror, aimed at killing Jews.

But in truth the White House has favored victims, and Jews are not among them. In the case of the killings in North Carolina, where the motivation of the murderer remains unclear, the White House was quick to jump. There was a longer statement, and not by a spokesperson--but by the President himself.

Statement by the President

Yesterday, the FBI opened an inquiry into the brutal and outrageous murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In addition to the ongoing investigation by local authorities, the FBI is taking steps to determine whether federal laws were violated. No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship. Michelle and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones. As we saw with the overwhelming presence at the funeral of these young Americans, we are all one American family. Whenever anyone is taken from us before their time, we remember how they lived their lives – and the words of one of the victims should inspire the way we live ours.

“Growing up in America has been such a blessing,” Yusor said recently. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. There’s so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions – but here, we’re all one.”

There is one very good reason for this greater official reaction: this crime happened in the United States. Still, it’s remarkable that the president said "No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship" when we do not yet in fact know if that is why the victims were killed. The contrasts add to the sense that this president sees hatred against Muslims instantly and before the facts are in, but does not see terrorism--especially terrorism against Jews--very clearly.

UPDATE: The White House quickly issued a statement, in the name of the press secretary, about the killing of Egyptian Copts in Libya. But now a day after the murder of a Jew in the attack on a synagogue in Copenhagen, still not a word from the White House at any level. That apparently minor incident was left for a State Department comment. Perhaps the selection of who comments on what is....random? Or perhaps there are some priorities here.