Photo Credit: Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow

When are Jews and Christians not Jews or Christians? When they are murdered by Muslim terrorists, apparently.

The Obama administration’s approach to terrorism has taken a disappointing new turn as it deliberately avoids referring to Jewish and Christian victims of terrorism as Jews or Christians.

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Hours after the Libyan branch of ISIS executed twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians because they were Christians, the White House issued a statement of condemnation in which, incredibly, it failed to acknowledge that the victims were Christians.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the executions “the murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists.” Not only did he make no reference to the Christian identity of the victims, but the White House spokesman seemed to be going out of his way to avoid acknowledging that the killers were Muslims. He declared that ISIS “is unconstrained by faith, sect or ethnicity.”

Of course the White House knew full well that the killers made no secret about their motives. The grisly video showing the mass slaughter was titled “The People of the Cross, Followers of the Hostile Egyptian Church.” It denounced the victims as “crusaders.”

That term might have been a deliberately ironic reference to President Obama’s recent controversial speech in which he suggested that the medieval crusades by Christians put the Christian world on the same moral level as those who murder in the name of Islam today.

All of this unfolded just days after the administration pulled a similar disappearing act with the Jews. The draft Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) the White House submitted to Congress stated that “ISIL has threatened genocide and committed vicious acts of violence against religious and ethnic minority groups, including Iraqi Christian, Yezidi, and Turkmen populations.”

The administration would no doubt respond that the language was taken from a Senate resolution adopted last year. But that’s the whole point – it was last year, before the massacre in the kosher grocery in Paris. Muslim terrorists are now targeting Jews. Any current White House list of ISIS targets should include Jews.

Coming on the heels of Obama’s description of the Paris attack as the work of men who “randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris” – again, no Muslim killers, no Jewish victims – the language emanating from the White House sounds like a deliberate attempt to blur the identity of the targets when the targets are Jews or Christians.

It’s hard to believe that such statements are all just coincidentally cut from the same cloth. They seem to reflect a certain mindset in Washington. Obama would like to believe that in our modern world, religious and ethnic differences have been transcended, that most “folks” around the world are friendly and reasonable, and that the right combination of American dollars and apologies can soothe any hurt feelings.

Acknowledging that the murderers are motivated by radical Islam, and that the targets are chosen because they are Jews or Christians, would turn the president’s worldview on its head. But it’s the truth, and the time has come for the White House to face it.

The victims in Paris were killed because they were Jews. The victims in Libya were killed because they were Christians. None of them were murdered “randomly.” Our government should at least give them the dignity of identifying them in death as they chose to identify themselves in life.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is a candidate on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the World Zionist Congress elections.

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