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February 18, 2015 1:57 am

Words Matter: Why Obama Wants to Suppress the Truth on Terrorism and Iran

avatar by Laura Fein

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President Barack Obama is under fire for failing to mention antisemitism when describing the Paris kosher supermarket attack during his interview with Vox magazine. Photo: White House.

With electrifying passion and fury, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls vehemently denounced anti-Semitism before the French National Assembly recently, offering a blistering reproach to his countrymen for showing insufficient “outrage” at the “unacceptable,” “intolerable,”and “shameful” targeting of Jews.

“History has taught us that the awakening of anti-Semitism is the symptom of a crisis for democracy and of a crisis for the Republic,” he exhorted. “There is a historical anti-Semitism that goes back centuries, but there is also a new anti-Semitism …against the backdrop of the loathing of the State of Israel, and which advocates hatred of the Jews and all the Jews. It has to be spelled out, the right words must be used to fight this unacceptable anti-Semitism.”

Spelling out the problem. Using the right words. Recognizing that loathing the State of Israel leads to violence against Jews and a crisis for democracy. When will we see such clarity from our own leaders?

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Instead, as the worldwide incidence and incendiary power of threats to Jews rises, the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, say-no-evil White House and State Department have descended into dissembling, obfuscation, and outright lies.

Why? Because, as anyone who can read a headline knows, the rise in anti-Semitism and terror is intimately connected with the spread of radical Islam in all its forms: ISIS, Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and the Ayatollahs of Iran. And for reasons only guessed at by others, the President affirmatively refuses to acknowledge this plain truth.

The Obama Administration has long suppressed all references to Islam in the context of terror or jihad. FBI, CIA, DHS, and DOD manuals have been rewritten, wiped of terminology deemed anathema to the President’s revisionist views of Islam’s role in inspiring terrorism. The result has been the absence of a coherent policy to stop these threats, and a surreal misuse of language, such as when the Fort Hood terror attack was mislabeled an instance of “workplace violence.”

The absurdity of this policy has become ever more obvious in recent months. In his creepily low-key reaction to video of an ally’s captive being burned alive in a cage, Obama would not identify the perpetrators as radical Islamists, referring to “whatever ideology they’re operating off of,” as though it has no name. Then last week, Obama created a media firestorm by referring to the Jewish Hypercacher victims as “a bunch of folks in a deli” shot at “randomly,” erasing both identity of the murdered and motive of the murderer.

He might have dialed back when so many in the media questioned his choice of words, but instead he doubled down, sending both the White House and State Department spokespersons into press briefings where they insulted our intelligence with their dishonest and illogical attempts to explain that no, it was not Jews who were targeted. “They were not all victims of one background or one nationality,” said Jen Psaki, as though the deceased’s shared Jewish heritage was irrelevant. Asked if this was anti-Jewish violence, she deferred to the French authorities, knowing that the French had long since recognized the Jew-hatred that motivated the attack. (Perhaps if she had seen the “Je Suis Juif” signs at the Paris march and across the media, she might have realized.)

Josh Earnest was no better, stating “There were people other than just Jews who were in that deli,” as if that held any relevance to the attacker’s ambition. As more Jews perish in targeted jihadi-fueled terror, including last weekend in Copenhagen, we can expect more fatuous squirming to pursue the impossible: explain events without identifying the role of radical Islam or Islamic anti-Semitism.

These deliberate attempts to mislead, mislabel, and mischaracterize events apply equally to the Administration’s treatment of Netanyahu’s planned address to Congress.  The White House’s nonsense objections on issues of protocol and timing (for example its claim to have been blindsided was revealed to be false) were calculated to divert attention from the core issue: the current U.S. courtship of Iran.

And what a courtship it has been. Promising little and doing less, Iran has managed to transform its nuclear program from internationally outlawed to legally recognized in a few short years, thanks to our President’s unwavering advocacy. With sanctions partially lifted, the goals of negotiations have drifted from broad elimination of Iran’s nuclear capability to narrow details of containment and breakout period. In his meticulous article in Mosaic, Michael Doran identifies Obama’s obscuring of his intent and evasion of “an honest debate [that] would force him to come clean with the American people” on his ideological commitment to detente with Iran.

The decision to invite Netanyahu is a belated effort by Congress to forcefully challenge the President’s spurious strategy, “whose grim results,” writes Doran, “are multiplying by the day.” Netanyahu’s voice will bring what Obama’s words lack: honesty, clarity, and an unshakeable commitment to the original goal of ending Iran’s military nuclear program. Netanyahu understands the existential threat a nuclear armed Iran poses not only to Israel but to all free nations, and he won’t hesitate to say so.

It is the content of that speech that the world needs to hear, and that the President so desperately wants to suppress.

Let us not fall for the specious, often risible attacks on Netanyahu’s intentions (such as the Congressional Black Caucus attempting to frame this as a race issue). Let us recognize the value Netanyahu brings to achieving the goal Israel shares with Congress and the American people of all parties. And let us not allow the silencing of this critical speech on why and how Iran must be stopped. As P.M. Valls reminded us all, what cannot be said will not be done.

Laura Fein is the Executive Director of ZOA-NJ.  Her work has appeared in The Algemeiner, the Times of Israel blog, JNS (Jewish News Service) and elsewhere. She welcomes your feedback at ZOANJ@zoa.org.

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  • OBAMA = CHAMBERLAIN

  • Michael Garfinkel

    The Congressional Black Caucus has adopted the position that the Prime Minister’s speech to congress, in which he will illustrate the existential nature of the Iranian threat – is an affront to the dignity of the (black) man in the White House.

    Apparently there’s no level to low for them to stoop.

  • “Despicable” is the descriptive adjective that most often comes to mind in connection with our prevaricating president. To many Americans, it appears he is willing to sell out our sovereignty, safety and security (and that of Israel) for short-term political gain. Thanks to Obama’s bumbling, fumbling foreign policy fiascos, there will be no “peace in our time” but only further war and bloodshed engendered by Islamic anti-Semitism and extremism. I for one intend to listen to PM Netanyahu’s entire speech. (He never disappoints.) If Obama deigns to pay any attention to the prime minister’s presentation, he might learn a thing or two about personal integrity and statesmanship.

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