President Obama brought up the Toulouse shooting rampage by an Islamic extremist in his Passover message today.
Mohamed Merah killed three French paratroopers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi in a March shooting spree. Merah, killed in a standoff with police, was a 23-year-old of Algerian descent who claimed ties to, or at least was inspired by, al-Qaeda.
“The story of the Exodus is thousands of years old, but it remains as relevant as ever. Throughout our history, there are those who have targeted the Jewish people for harm – a fact we were so painfully reminded of just a few weeks ago in Toulouse,” Obama said in a video message. “Just as throughout history, there have been those who have sought to oppress others because of their faith, ethnicity or color of their skin.”
He said that Passover is a time to reflect on how to make the most of liberty after passing out of bondage.
“So this is a very special tradition – and it’s one I’m proud to be taking part of tomorrow night, at the fourth annual White House Seder. Led by Jewish members of my staff, we’ll retell the story of the Exodus, listen to our youngest guest ask the four questions, and of course, look forward to a good bowl of matzo ball soup,” Obama said.
“Michelle and I are proud to celebrate with friends here at home and around the world, including those in the State of Israel.”
Obama has not visited Israel in his first term.