Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov
Michelle Obama speaks to the U.S. about the Boko Haram kidnapping of Nigerian girls, May 10, 2014.

United States First Lady Michelle Obama

offered her thoughts, prayers and support in the wake of the unconscionable terrorist kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls. The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, May 10, 2014. [White House Press Office]

Her argument against what the Islamist terrorists of Boko Haram did, and have been doing for years to their fellow Nigerians with sickening brutality, is summarized this way:

This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education – grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls… In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”

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From the official text of her speech, it’s hard not to notice that she uses the word “terrorist” three times in describing the Islamists of Boko Haram who have openly taken credit for the kidnappings.

But not once does she use the words Boko Haram or Islam or Islamist. 

There’s a flip-side to this. Although Michelle Obama herself (or her speech-writers, if one were to be coldly pedantic about this) calls them terrorists, the ever-delicate – and hugely influential – BBC does not use the word even once in its coverage of her speech. (Here and here are some background notes on the BBC’s obnoxious “use of terrorism” guidelines. And here is the policy itself.) Oddly, they have no problem inserting Boko Haram and Islamist into their report, though Mrs Obama’s speech does not mention either term. She does call them terrorists, but to the oh-so-doctrinaire BBC, they’re militants.

As for Mrs Obama’s perfectly justifiable outrage at grown men “determined to keep these girls from getting an education,” we wonder if she is aware of the other unconscionable atrocities for which this group has taken responsibility. Tragically, it’s not only about education or girls. A very partial list:

• Boko Haram terrorists bombed a Catholic church, filled with worshipers, in  January 2014, and killed 45 of them [source]. • Boko Haram terrorists carried out two roadside attacks on unsuspecting travelers in September 2013 and murdered no fewer than 159 of them, all fellow Nigerians [“22-Sep-13: A quiet weekend“] A week later they attacked the College of Agriculture in Yobe state and shot students as they slept, killing some forty of the young men. [“29-Sep-13: Sunday, bloody, bloody Sunday“]

• Boko Haram executed three human bomb attacks on Christian churches in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna in June 2012. At least 50 people were killed, according to the Red Cross. 131 were injured. This was “the third weekend in a row in which Boko Haram has carried out bombings on churches” [BBC] The report points out that “Kaduna lies on the dividing line between Nigeria’s largely Christian south and mainly Muslim north… Since 2009, it has targeted police stations and other government buildings, churches and schools. Hundreds of people have died in the attacks, and analysts suggest the group is trying to trigger clashes between Christians and Muslims.”

• Boko Haram gunmen launched a terror attack on a Christian church in Gombe in January 2012, and managed to kill 6 and wound 10 of the Christian worshipers [source] (A UN agency has a detailed and much fuller timeline of Boko Haram atrocities and body counts here. It’s a truly ghastly tally.)

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Frimet and Arnold Roth began writing and speaking publicly soon after the murder of their fifteen year-old daughter Malki Z"L in the Jerusalem Sbarro massacre, August 9, 2001 (Chaf Av, 5761). They have both been, and are, frequently interviewed for radio, television and the print media, including CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, and others. Their blog This Ongoing War deals with the under-appreciated price of living in a society afflicted by terrorism which, they contend, means the entire world. Frimet is a native of Queens, NY while her husband was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. They brought their family to settle in Jerusalem in 1988. They co-founded the Malki Foundation in 2001 and are deeply involved in its work as volunteers. They can be reached at thisoingoingwar@gmail.com .

45 COMMENTS

  1. And yet the single biggest threat to a Muslim is still another purported Muslim. Until they recognize that these fools have turned the name of Allah from a blessing to a curse all around the world, and the words of their prophet into nothing but the hate filled ravings of their own insanity and work hard to change those perceptions with real introspective reforms, Muslim blood will unfortunately still stain Muslim hands.

  2. Ass .. your girls why cause their your color ….shameful !…u never fight for anyone unless they look like you and your husband ?…what kind of message r u sending ?…I am Indian and my nieces and my sisters children are all dark …all children every where of ever nationality should be what we fight for …not just your children .

  3. Focusing on one tragedy does not mean one does not empathize with other tragedies, such as the terrorist murder of the Roth’s daughter.

    On another note, for the tone may imply to some that Obama is not a friend to Israel, Obama has been a great friend to Israel. Ehud Barak has said a number of times, Obama has done more for Israel’s security than any other U.S. President, all of whom (except for W) were and are against continual settlement expansion as are a majority of Israelis.

    For U.S. Presidents, like many Israelis and many American Jews, Netanyahu is not liked. But Netanyahu is not Israel and Obama’s disdain for him has not harmed the U.S commitment to Israel, even though Netanyahu tries to frame it this way. As Barak notes, Obama has done more for Israel’s security than any other U.S. President. Let’s not forget how grateful Israel is for the bunker busting bombs W would not give them that Obama has given Israel, which enables Israel to strike Iran alone. Let’s not forget Iron Dome and the overwhelming expressions of love for Obama from Israelis during the missile barrage from Gaza not so long ago, or the vetoes in the UN, etc..

    Being against the expansion of settlements does not make one anti-Israel, nor does it mean that one, such as Michelle Obama, is not horrified by the Roth murder. Nor does this mean she is not worried about the warranted fears Israelis and Jews face from groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. There is a reason Obama has given more security aide to Israel than any U.S. President. The Obama’s understand.

  4. Cheryl Korchak some parents are against their daughters dating Muslims and issue warnings solely against thier daughters dating muslim boyfriends, I bet you and Mrs. Obama think that this is racist

  5. Obama has no love for Israel heck I dont think he even loves the American people by putting them so deeply in debt and then printing more money to cover his debt, Does Obama not believe in a day of reckoning?

  6. ISLAMIC terrorism is what it is. MUSLIM terrorism. How can Islam claim to be a peaceful religion when they allow these terrorists to operate under the flag of their so-called religion?

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