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Illustrating the Growth of Extremism, Atlanta Jewish Times Publisher Resigns Over Obama Assassination Column

Allan C. Brownfeld
Special Interest Report
April 2012

In a column in The Atlanta Jewish Times of Jan. 13, 2012, the paper’s publisher, Andrew Adler, outlined what he said were the possible responses by Israel to Iran’s acquiring a nuclear weapon: a pre-emptive strike against Hamas and Hezbollah, terrorist groups he said would be emboldened by a nuclear Iran; a direct strike on Iran; and “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 U.S. policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.”  
Mr. Adler continued: “Yes, you read (it) 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 inner circles.”  
Discussing this scenario, Washington Jewish Week (Jan. 26, 2012) declared: “When Andrew Adler ... recently suggested in his newspaper that Israel might consider assassinating President Obama, he stabbed his pen through the very heart of American Jewish journalism ... Although Adler’s rantings have all the earmarks of a crackpot’s rantings, it would be a mistake to write him off as merely a lone nutcase. His message did not come from nowhere. It has a context. Obama has been the target of extraordinarily caustic vitriol since he took office ... The litany of fevered accusations leveled against the president is well known ... He is a secret Muslim, an anti-American and a hater of Israel. Both Jews and non-Jews have engaged in this de facto campaign of character assassination ... We hope that his (Adler’s) actions are not a harbinger of things to come. The last thing Israel needs is more ‘friends’ like Adler.”  
The Anti-Defamation League and the National Jewish Democratic Council condemned Adler, as did David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. As extreme as Adler’s suggestion was, however, it was largely ignored in most of the Jewish and national press, even though it was reported by CNN that the Secret Service was investigating Adler over the column.  
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta said that it would suspend its relations with the paper until Adler removed himself from its operations. In the end, Adler “relinquished all day-to-day activities immediately.”  
The extremism which is growing in some sectors of the American Jewish community, argues Eric Alterman in The Nation (Feb. 13, 2012) may not go as far as Mr. Adler’s suggestion, but is in many ways similar in nature. Alterman recalls that, “I happened to be in the audience at a conference for aspiring Jewish journalists ... when Harvard’s Ruth Wisse instructed the earnest young attendees to think of themselves not as honest seekers of wisdom and truth but as adjuncts to the Israeli Defense Forces, and to use their words ... to defend Israel, period.”  
In Alterman’s view, “It hardly strains credulity to imagine that folks with (these) views ... would welcome an attack on Iran’s nuclear program to protect Israel, regardless of its implications for the U.S. and the world.” Concerning the use of the charge of “anti-Semitism” to silence critics of Israeli policies, he writes: “Among the few people who can enjoy this spectacle are actual anti-semites, whether here or abroad. By treating the accusation as a kind of political ping-pong ball, Israel’s passive ‘friends’ succeed only in draining it of all meaning.” •

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