John Kerry Excludes Jewish Victims from Paris Attack Anniversary!

On January 7, 2016, The U.S. Department of State issued a statement in which Secretary of State John Kerry wanted to recognize the victims of the Paris attacks of January 7, 8, 9, 2015. The statement was short and read as follows: "On the one-year anniversary of the January 7-9, 2015, attacks that took the lives of 17 people, we honor the victims of this tragedy and share the sadness of their loss. Their legacy endures as a challenge and inspiration to all of us. Charlie Hebdo continues to publish, and journalists around the world continue in their essential mission to tell the stories that people everywhere need to hear. No country knows better than France that freedom has a price, and that no rationale can justify attacks on innocent men, women, and children. But what was intended to sow fear and division has, in fact, brought us together. We must remain committed to protect each other and renew our determination to turn this moment of profound loss into a lasting commitment. Just as we tackle today’s most daunting challenges side by side, the United States and France will always stand together."

At first glance, the statement appeared to be remembering the victims of the Paris triple terrorist attack that took place, and that's commendable. But something is profoundly wrong with that statement, not so much in what it says but in what it failed to mention. This was a case when silence spoke louder than words!

Mr. Kerry is mentioning the 17 victims and how their tragic death united France and the United States, and continues to do so in our on-going fight against terrorism. But why is Mr. Kerry only mentioning the Charlie Hebdo magazine? The 17 victims were made of 3 groups: 12 victims from Charlie Hebdo, one police officer on the street and four Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket. There is no mention of the police officer or the four Jewish victims. The whole tragedy is bundled under the Charlie Hebdo massacre. It is not my intention to belittle the magazine's 12 deaths or the police officer's death, but the attack was more than an attack against freedom of the press. It was also an attack against freedom of religion.

I have no doubt that if the terror attack of January 2015 in Paris had only been against the four Jewish shoppers, there would have not been a 4 million people march in France the following week-end. Similarly, outside of the French Jewish community, the Toulouse attack of 2012 by Mohammed Merah is mostly forgotten, yet it took the life of 7 people, including a rabbi and 3 Jewish day school children.

In the recent statement by John Kerry, I don't believe that not making reference to the Jewish victims was an oversight. He, along with the vast majority of the current U.S. administration are no friends of Israel and the Jewish people. It would have gone a long way if the Jewish victims had been acknowledged along with the police officer and the magazine. Instead, a blanket statement was made, only connecting the event to the magazine.

After all, it was President Obama who right after the attack, described the Jewish victims shopping at the kosher supermarket a few hours before Shabbat as" a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris" who had been "randomly shot." This is either a lack of sensitivity or a severe disconnect with reality. There is no doubt in everybody's mind that the terrorist Amédy Coulibally picked the Hypercacher store on purpose. It was a Jewish store where Jewish people shopped for kosher food, especially on Friday afternoons before the Sabbath.

So for John Kerry not to mention the Jewish victim is a diplomatic faux pas at best and antisemitism by omission at worst. It would have been easy to say "12 members of the Charlie Hebdo staff, one police officer in the line of duty and four Jewish people shopping in a kosher Market."

The world is used to antisemitism by commission when Jewish people are ostracized, demonized, persecuted and even murdered. This is a form of hatred that can be measured in a tangible way. A stabbed person, a defaced Jewish tombstone or a burned synagogue door are all visual witnesses of antisemitism by commission.

But when the Jewish people are categorized as regular folks after an antisemitism attack, re-labelled or totally ignored when they should be remembered as victims, it is antisemitism by omission. Most people already don't care much about the devastation brought in by antisemitism by commission. They certainly will not pick-up on the subtle approach of antisemitism by omission.

Too bad Mr. Kerry. You had a simple opportunity to not only align the USA with France in the fight against terror but also reach out to the French Jewish community at a time when they don't feel much friendship from most of the world. By generalizing your statement, you ignored the French Jewish victims and offended them. I wonder.... was there any other group you cared not to offend by leaving the Jews out of your statement?

Obama's Legacy and Tisha B'Av

We often say that the Jewish life cycle revolves around the Jewish calendar, its holy days and the foods we eat accordingly. There is even a a Jewish motto about it: "They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat!" But let us remember that on the Jewish calendar, outside of the biblically ordained Levitical feasts (Leviticus 23), there are several other dates marking some critical events in our history. One such date is Tisha B'Av or the ninth of the month of Av. This annual fast (lasting 25 hours in Jewish tradition) commemorates several tragedies that occurred in Jewish history. It is believed that on the ninth of Av:

• The 12 spies returned
• The First Temple was destroyed
• The Second Temple was destroyed
• The 135 CE Bar Kochba revolt was put to an end by the Romans
• The first Crusade started
• Jews were expelled from England in 1290
• Germany entered World War One
• "The final Solution to the Jewish Question" was officially put in motion in 1941
• Large scale deportation of Jews to Auschwitz and Treblinka started in 1942

Needless to say that this is a very somber date for Jewish people worldwide. This is a time when the Book of Lamentations is read in synagogues. Jewish people fast, do not bathe and do not have marital relations on this day.

This year, the ninth of Av falls on July 25 and I cannot help but think about the way that it might be remembered and added to the long list of catastrophes for the Jewish people.
We are in the midst of a global crisis with the Islamic Republic of Iran which is on the threshold of acquiring its own nuclear arsenal. The same Iran has recently and repeatedly vowed to destroy Israel and the United States.

Since 2008, President Obama's foreign policy has been less than spectacular. Like every previous president since 1948 and to no avail, he tried to make a positive contribution to the Middle East peace process. But it is clear that Mr. Obama has an obsession with Iran, and like the National Review aptly said it: "The Obama administration values a future relationship with Iran more than it values the historic relationship it has with Israel." President Obama's obsession with Iran might only be surpassed by his obsession for his own "messianic legacy"." In any case, both are tightly linked and they unfortunately are at the expense of Israel.

During Thursday Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, we heard Secretary of State John Kerry try to defend the current Iran nuclear agreement with the 5+1 super powers. Frankly, it is starting to feel more and more like another check will soon be added to the ominous list of Tisha B'Av tragedies. Especially in light of Mr. Kerry's answer when asked by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) about US loyalty in the eventuality of a unilateral Israeli strike to sabotage Iranian facilities. First, there was a foggy answer from Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz. Mr. Rubio reiterated his question to which he got a firm "No" from Mr. Moniz, stating that the US was not under any obligation to protect Iran. Immediately following, Mr Kerry chimed in and tried to sound as if the current administration was Israel's friend and that all would be good. He never gave a firm yes or no, but finished by saying: " ...I don't see any way possible that we would be in conflict with Israel with respect to what we might want to do there. I think we might have to wait until we get to that point."

The problem with that statement from Mr. Kerry is that it can be interpreted several different ways depending on what the audience wants to hear. When I hear the phrase with respect to what we might want to do there, I am left wondering if "what they might want to do" is bomb Iran in accord with Israel or help Iran to defend itself from an Israeli attack (cyber or military). Pick one, they both work! There is some wording on page 142 of the document drafted for the deal stipulating that the 5+1 would help Iran defend themselves against sabotage once the deal is approved. This would make me think that the US would lean towards helping Iran, and frankly, this wouldn't surprise me under the current administration.

Then there is the statement he closed with: "I think we might have to wait until we get to that point." which is even more frightening. If we truly have to wait for the eleventh hour when Israeli planes are in Iranian airspace or even later if possible, it is akin to asking people to wait until Hiroshima was detonated before deciding if it was the best option.

Israel, the United States and the rest of the free world cannot afford to wait and see because the more time we give the Islamic Republic of Iran to acquire the bomb the less time we will have to successfully respond. In other words if we wait much longer there might not be much left to see.

I continue to keep my trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and His unconditional love for Israel. But I must remain pragmatic in understanding that the highest human casualties in the history of mankind are yet to come.

Obama's legacy sure looks like it includes America's divorce from Israel. It sure feels like Tisha B'Av again but hang in there because Rosh Hashanah is just around the corner!