The Atlanta Jewish Community Needs to Take Action
Note: I am Jewish. And I consider myself a strong supporter of Israel. Those points are essential background for this post.
Until a few minutes ago, I’d never heard of the Atlanta Jewish Times. Apparently, it is a small community newspaper with a readership of approximately 3,500. The paper was purchased by Andrew Adler in 2009 and he presently serves as Editor and Publisher. While reading some news updates online, I was directed to a January 13 “From the Publisher” column written by Adler entitled “What Would You Do?” (it appears that the column is either not available on the paper’s website or it has been taken down). The column asks readers to pretend that they are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to consider what action they might take in response to threats from Iran and Hezbollah. After offering two options for the Prime Minster to take, Adler offers a final, third option. Here is the part of this short column that made my mouth drop and caused me to literally shake with rage and disgust:
Three, give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.
Yes, you read “three” correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don’t you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel’s most inner circles?
Another way of putting “three” into perspective goes something like this: How far would you go to save a nation comprised of seven million lives … Jews, Christians and Arabs alike?
You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table.
I dispute his entire premise, that President Obama has been unfriendly to Israel. I’ve written about that in the past, and that’s not really the point of this post. But the last thing that will help Israel are columns like this, even mere suggestions like Adler’s. One of the problems facing Israel today is that too many on the left, both Jewish and not, are beginning to become less strong in their ties to Israel, if not actually turning against Israel. How will people who find J-Street’s message persuasive react to columns like Adler’s? Suggestions that “Israel’s most inner circles” are contemplating assassinating President Obama may make for interesting fiction (a Steve Berry novel, perhaps), but it is harmful both to Israel and to American Jews, especially as charges of' “Israel First” and “dual loyalty” are being tossed around with greater and greater frequency.
Now to be clear, Adler has already apologized for this column:
"I very much regret it, I wish I hadn't made reference to it at all," Andrew Adler told JTA on Friday.
He said he would publish an apology in his next edition, and that reaction from readers had been overwhelmingly negative.
But you know what? That’s not good enough. Note that he doesn’t say he was wrong, just that he “regrets it” and wishes that he “hadn’t made reference to it”. And note that he hasn’t put his apology on the Atlanta Jewish Times website; he’s just said that he’ll include it in his next edition.
The people who know Adler, the Atlanta Jewish community, the readers of the Atlanta Jewish Times, and supporters of Israel, need to make it abundantly clear to Adler and others who would make such horrific suggestions that his thoughts are far outside the mainstream, outside the pale of rational thought. Adler and those who share his fetish for thinking about reasons to harm President Obama simply cannot be a part of polite, civil society. We condemn those who seek to kill Americans. We condemn the preacher who prays for President Obama’s death. We must also condemn other Jews who offer such abhorrent viewpoints. They harm Israel and they harm the American Jewish community. The Atlanta Jewish community should find a way to show Adler that, by his actions, he isn’t really a part of that community at all. And he needs to do far more than indicate his “regret”; he needs to show that he understands just how harmful and dangerous his words are. And, even though it is not yet Yom Kippur, he needs to find a way to atone.
Take a minute and let Adler know what you think of his column.