Coming off the heels of President Obama’s comments that the kosher deli in Paris was attacked at “random,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki refused to call the attack an “anti-Jewish” attack when pressed by reporters on Tuesday.
During a lively back-and-forth between Psaki and the AP’s Matt Lee, Psaki said that she wasn’t sure if the kosher deli itself or the people inside were the target. Psaki’s comments echoed those of White House press secretary Josh Earnest earlier on Tuesday.
“Yesterday, the president at his news conference raised some eyebrows by saying that the victims of the shooting in Paris at the kosher deli were ‘random.’ Your colleague at the White House has apparently said something similar today,” Lee told Psaki. “Is that really — does the administration really believe that the victims of this attack were not singled out because they were of a particular faith?”
“Well, as you know, I believe if I remember the victims specifically, there were not all victims of one background or one nationality, so I think what I mean by that is I don’t know if they spoke to the targeting of the grocery store or that specifically about the individuals impacted,” Psaki said.
Unfortunately for Psaki, her talking points were off the mark. All four victims at the kosher deli were indeed Jewish. In addition, gunman Amedy Coulibaly called a news outlet from inside the deli, telling them he “targeted them because they were Jewish.”
In his comments released Monday, Obama told Vox that Americans should be “deeply concerned” when terrorists “randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”
Continuing to push. Lee told Psaki that when Secretary of State John Kerry went to pay respects to those murdered at the grocery store, he did so with “a member of the Jewish community.”
“Well don’t you think that the target, even if all the victims came from different backgrounds or different religions, different nationalities, wasn’t — the store itself was the target?” Lee asked. “Was it not?”
“That’s different that the individuals being [targeted],” Psaki said.
“Does the administration believe this was an anti-Jewish attack, or an attack on the Jewish community in Paris?” Lee asked. “If a guy goes into a kosher market and starts shooting it up, he’s not looking for Buddhists, is he?”
“Well, again Matt,” Psaki replied. “I think it’s relevant that obviously the individuals in there who were shopping and working at the store…”
“Who does the administration expects shops at a kosher [deli]? An attacker going into a store that is clearly identified as being with one specific faith, I’m not sure how it is that you can’t say that this was a targeted attack,” Lee said.
Psaki finished by telling Lee that this was something to take up with French government.