Videos & Speeches

Mr. President, I want to comment on an interview that was published yesterday, quoting the President. In an interview published yesterday, the President spoke about a number of issues facing the United States. During that interview he had commentary on terrorism and he referenced the January attacks in Paris, France, in what I would describe as a very concerning way. The President addressed the attacks in Paris as “randomly shooting a bunch of folks in a deli.”

The President's stated perception of the hostage taking and murder of four Jews in a kosher supermarket in that way--we ought to all be concerned. When asked to clarify the President's comments today, the White House stated that the Jewish victims of this attack were “killed not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be.”

The White House today suggested that because there were non-Jews in the kosher supermarket named Super Kosher, the attack did not specifically target Jews.

The State Department restated this explanation today, refusing to say that an attack on a kosher supermarket that killed four Jews could be anti-Jewish. The absurdity of this logic is apparent. Let me give you a hypothetical. If an attack occurs in a synagogue or in a church or in the American Embassy, are we really to accept the idea that on the chance that there were diverse people there, that that somehow disqualifies the possibility that members of the group who would predominantly frequent that place might be targeted? In other words, if somebody who happened to work in an American embassy but is not an American is killed in an attack, would we reach the conclusion that the attack on the embassy is not an attack on America?

The Obama administration's logic doesn't make sense and it is difficult to understand what they are trying to convey. It is also contrary to the open source media reports about the attack. Reuters reported that the perpetrator of the attack called a French television station to declare his allegiance to the Islamic State and stated his intentions to target Jews. Given this information, the Obama administration's now repeated comments that chalked this up to randomness--that is just amazing to me, that it is just random, this attack in Paris. The fact that four Jews were killed at a kosher supermarket, it is just random.

It is dangerous for our government leaders to reach such a conclusion and for us to be operating as we make a determination of how to proceed next in the war on terror to reach the kind of conclusions the President, his spokespersons, and the State Department are reaching.

The Islamic State, the organization the perpetrators of the Paris attack claim allegiance to, has made a point to persecute various ethnic and religious minorities. The denial of anti-minority or anti-Semitic motivations in this case gives me hesitation about whether the President understands the true nature of the threat we now face. This comes in the context of a report that the administration is soon to present to Congress for approval an authorization for the use of military force against Islamic State fighters.

Authorizing a war is a decision that should be made with the fullest of information and the most complete understanding possible. The Obama administration should be doing everything it can to clearly describe the threat our country faces--in fact, that people around the globe face--and a strategy that will be employed under this potential authorization to use force. If we don't know who we are fighting, how can we have a strategy to prevent the death and destruction those enemies will cause? The stakes are way too high to operate under anything but a clear understanding of the significant challenges our country faces. It makes no sense to describe something different than reality.