Obama starts a social media fire, calls Paris Kosher attack “random”

Published February 11th, 2015 - 07:18 GMT

Confusion abounded in Jewish and Israeli news and social media circles on Tuesday after the Obama administration may, or may not, have avoided characterizing the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris as anti-Semitic.

Questions first percolated after US President Barack Obama, in a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, mentioned that victims in the Paris market were shot "randomly."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded by saying that the targets within the grocery store were "killed not being of who they were, but because of where they happened to be."

The response prompted some to question whether the administration believed the targeting of the shop itself was random.

Following up on the confusion on Tuesday, a reporter pressed State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki whether the administration believes Amedy Coulibaly, the perpetrator of the attack, had targeted Jewish shoppers.

"I don't think we're going to speak on behalf of French authorities," Psaki responded. "It’s an issue for the French government to address."

US officials, in fact, declared the attack "cowardly and anti-Semitic" shortly after the January 9 shooting, speaking to The Jerusalem Post two days after the attack.

"We condemn in the strongest terms ‎yesterday's cowardly anti-Semitic assault against the innocent people in the kosher supermarket," said Chanan Weissman, a spokesman for the State Department.

"France's historic Jewish community has too often in the recent past been the target of extremist violence," Weissman continued. "We commend President Hollande and the French government's firm response to the terror attacks and the tragic loss of life this past week."  

Later on Tuesday, Psaki tweeted out confirmation of the State Department's position on the matter. 

"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," she said.

By Michael Wilner


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