It’s no surprise that President Obama has once again shocked the world with his outrageous and ignorant comments of anti-Semitism. After the attack at the Hyper Cacher kosher market in Paris in early January — committed by a man claiming allegiance to ISIS — the Obama administration officials dug the president into a deeper hole when they clarified his intentions in identifying the attack to be “random” in nature.
The man responsible for the terrorist attack that physically affected over a dozen people said in an interview with BFM-TV that he wanted to defend Palestinians and target Jews, according to a recent CNN article. However, this has still not changed the view of White House spokesman John Earnest and State Department spokeswoman Jen Pasaki who both initially refused — like Obama — to characterize the attack that left four Jews dead as anti-Semitic, and only later tweeted that they did mean to say that the attack was motivated by anti-Semitism.
In a Feb. 11 press conference, according to the Wall Street Journal, Earnest said that Obama intended to indicate that “the individuals who were killed in the terrible, tragic incident were killed not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be.” Pasaki’s argument was of a similar vein, with the specific comment that the victims were not all of “one background or one nationality.”
The modern wave of terrorism directed at European Jewry continued with Feb. 15’s attack in Copenhagen, where a gunman opened fire outside the Danish capital’s main city — killing a Jewish security guard on his night shift outside a synagogue. At the time of the attack, the synagogue was hosting about eighty people who had gathered for a bat mitzvah celebration.
The Danish government showed solidarity with its Jewish population, saying that it would “help residents and visitors feel secure.” Indeed, in the aftermath of the attacks, authorities have improved security around Jewish institutions and synagogues. Finn Schwarz, a former community chairman who has lobbied the authorities for years, often in vain, for a greater security presence said, “I think this attack was a wake-up call…What we have been long feared happened and we will now see a changed Denmark. We have never seen this much security and guns before.”
Similarly, in Norway, a number of Muslims have decided to form a “peace ring” around an Oslo synagogue this Shabbat and participate in a Shabbat-affiliated service to show their condolences for and solidarity with the victims of the attack in Denmark. Over 1500 people have signed up on the Friendship Ring Facebook page, which bears the message that “Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to. Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other.”
Despite the fact that these recent attacks have not occurred in the US, it is imperative for the president to vocalize the American people’s concerns. In this case, this entails not only showing solidarity for the victims, but also acknowledging why they were killed. While it is true, as Obama said, that the patrons of Hyper Cacher are multicultural, the majority of them are undeniably Jewish. As U.S. House Representative Peter King (R-NY) told CNN, “it’s Jews that go to Jewish delis. It’s Jews that go to synagogues.” King also said that he believes there to be a connection between the two attacks on Jewish-affiliated locations.
Many citizens from different countries look up to the US. They look up to the president as a leader and admire him for his judgment and opinions. However, the offensive and inappropriate comments from Obama have shown no sympathy and sincerity to the people who have been involved in the incident and to the Jewish population as a whole.
This matter questions Obama’s personal belief on the situation. In mid-January, a unity march took place in Paris, with notable attendees Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — but no President Obama. This further brings into question the role of Barack Obama as a leader and the responsibilities he has as the president of the United States of America. If the president of our own country does not take a stand and admit to what has been going on in the world, the real impacts of hate, such as anti-Semitism, and its victims are cheapened.
Where is the president, our leader and role model for the future generation?