The Dangerous Politics Of Hate

UPDATE Andrew Adler, the owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times and author of a column calling for the assassination of President Obama by Israel, has resigned and is putting his newspaper up for sale, JTA reported.  The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta acknowledged Adler's "public apology and remorse," but said "the damage done to the people of Israel, the global Jewish people, and especially the Jewish Community of Atlanta is irreparable."  

A fiery New York state assemblyman known as a friend of Benjamin Netanyahu said "a lot of Israeli leaders" are praying for Barack Obama's defeat.

Dov Hikind, a Democrat who is an outspoken critic of Obama and whose views on Mideast policy are considerably to the right of Netanyahu's, told a press conference this week, “If I could just say, there’s no doubt in my mind that a lot of Israeli leaders are praying that Obama doesn’t get reelected,”

In a joint appearance with freshman Republican Congressman Bob Turner, Hikind went on: “That’s a 100% reality. There’s no love lost between Netanyahu and the President of the United States. Should Obama get reelected, you think there’s been some rough spots between the United States and Israel in the last couple years, you haven’t seen anything yet.”

Hikind's volatile rhetoric was tame compared to a column in the Atlanta Jewish Times by its owner and publisher, Andrew Adler.

He wants Israeli leaders to do more than pray; he wants them to send a Mossad hit team to assassinate the President of the United States, he wrote in a January 13 column.

That was one of three options he presented for preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The others were a direct strike on Iran and attacks on Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran's terrorist allies.

Adler wrote, "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, that's right, Adler says the Mossad should murder the American president and that would motivate his successor to help Israel destroy its enemies.

"Yes you read [the assassination option] 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?"

Adler said it is fantasy to believe that diplomacy can keep Iran from going nuclear; the only realistic answer is force. He apparently  considered presidential assassination realistic, at least until he ran into criticism.

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) denounced Adler's column as "horrific" and "the height of irresponsibility." David A. Harris, the group's president, said it was particularly appalling that such "despicable ideas" were given prominence in a Jewish newspaper by its owner and publisher.

Adler told, which first reported about his column, that he wasn't really advocating assassination but believed the option was "on the table."  He later amended that by saying, "I wrote it to see what kind of reaction I was going to get from readers."

Reader reaction turned out to be overwhelming negative, Adler told JTA , and he plans to publish an apology in his next edition.

NJDC's Harris  summed it up well:

"This episode demonstrates just how low our political discourse has sunk, and I can only hope that it serves as a wake-up call to moderate our public dialogue and tone it down dramatically. Such suggestions have no place in the public square, and they should be roundly condemned by everyone, regardless of party."

ADL's Abe Foxman questioned Adler's fitness to run a newspaper:

There is absolutely no excuse, no justification, no rationalization for this kind of rhetoric.  It doesn’t even belong in fiction.  These are irresponsible and extremist words.  It is outrageous and beyond the pale.  An apology cannot possibly repair the damage.

Irresponsible rhetoric metastasizes into more dangerous rhetoric.  The ideas expressed in Mr. Adler’s column reflect some of the extremist rhetoric that unfortunately exists — even in some segments of our community — that maliciously labels President Obama as an ‘enemy of the Jewish people.’ 


About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.