January 22, 2012
A mindless week
Last week was one of those times when it appeared that the human race is losing its collective marbles.
The Republican primary debates were weird enough, followed by the tragicomedy of Captain Francesco Schettino of the jolly cruise ship Costa Concordia, who reportedly and “accidentally” fell into a lifeboat, while his ship, with its panicked passengers, keeled over on its side.
But the final nudge into utter mindlessness came from Andrew B. (for Barrett) Adler, owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times.
A diligent Internet search of Mr. Adler’s resume yielded meager results, but apparently he has been active in Georgia Jewish journalism for some decades.
He is listed as the one-time editor and publisher of the Atlanta Maccabiah Press, which morphed into the Metro Jewish News. In 2009, he bought the Atlanta Jewish Times, which at the time had a staff of five and 3,500 subscribers.
Mr. Adler might have continued to labor in relative obscurity, but in the Jan. 13 issue of his weekly he staked a claim to his 15 minutes of international fame.
In a signed column, Adler suggested to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three options, if and when Iran gets a workable nuclear bomb.
One would be a pre-emptive strike against the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups, nurtured by Iran, or, secondly, a direct strike against Iran.
For the third option, Adler came up with a real mind-bender. “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,” Adler advised.
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Just in case the reader missed the subtle point, Adler hammered it home by adding,” Yes, you read [the third 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’s modest suggestion, with its implication that the Israeli government might be as deranged as the author, would be shrugged off as heavy-handed anti-Zionist propaganda if “revealed” by Ahmadinejad or his ilk.
For a couple of days the hare-brained scenario, which would consign Israel and the Jewish people to permanent pariah status if actually carried out, remained unnoticed. But then it was discovered by the Gawker.com website, passed on to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the (expletive) hit the fan.
The Israeli consul-general in Atlanta and Jewish groups denounced the article, and, according to news reports, the U.S. Secret Service said it would look into the matter.
A suitably chastened Adler told JTA, “I very much regret it, I wish I hadn’t made reference to it at all.” Later, he asserted that the article, which appeared under the headline “What would you do?” merely meant to elicit reader reactions to his ideas.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, released a statement which put the matter into a nutshell.
“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,” Foxman wrote.
“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.’”
In the Israel daily Haaretz, writer Chemi Shalev harkened back to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin by a Jewish extremist to warn that suggestions such as Adler’s “need to trigger just one homicidal chemical reaction in just one fanatic’s brain for history to change forever.”
ADL’s Foxman concluded his statement with one apt observation. “Mr. Adler’s lack of judgment as a publisher, editor and columnist raises serious questions as to whether he’s fit to run a newspaper.”