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White House: We Don't Know if Paris Kosher Market Victims Were Killed Because They Were Jews Because They Weren't 'Targeted by Name


"There were people other than just Jews who were in that deli."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks about the resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson amid a recent White House security breach, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

UPDATE 4:35 p.m. ET: White House press secretary Josh Earnest tweeted after heavy backlash:

UPDATE 3:50 p.m. ET: State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki tweeted, "We have always been clear that the attack on the kosher grocery store was an anti-Semitic attack."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that the Jewish victims of the Paris kosher market attack weren't killed because of "who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be."

A gunman, who later said he was acting on behalf of the Islamic State, walked into the kosher market during last month's wave of terrorism in France and opened fire, taking hostages and starting an hours-long siege. Four people, all Jews, were killed.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Barack Obama drew outrage Monday after he described the incident as a gunman who "randomly [shot] a bunch of folks in a deli."

But Earnest defended Obama's answer, saying the attacker didn’t know specifically by name who he was killing, only that it was a Jewish deli.

"Does the president have any doubt that those terrorists attacked that deli because there would be Jews in that deli?" ABC News reporter Jonathon Karl asked.

Earnest insisted the president didn’t misspeak when using the word “randomly.”

"It is clear from the terrorists and the writings that they put out afterward what their motivation was," Earnest said. "The adverb that the president chose was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible, tragic incident were killed not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be."

"They weren't killed because they were in a Jewish deli though? They were in a kosher deli," Karl said.

"These individuals were not targeted by name," Earnest said. "This is the point."

"Not by name but by religion, were they not?" Karl pressed.

"Jon, I — there were people other than just Jews who were in that deli," Earnest said.

"That deli was attacked because it was a kosher deli, it was not any random deli, it was a kosher deli," Karl said again.

Earnest said, “No, Jon. I answered the question.”

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