Sometimes, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.
That was the case in Atlanta recently. The publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, Andrew Adler, wrote a column entitled “What would you do?”
The question was premised on the growing threat to Israel from Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, in which the Jewish state could one day be targeted by thousands of missiles and a high casualty rate.
In response, Adler, speaking for himself but, he said, trying to put himself in the shoes of the Israeli prime minister, suggested three possible responses by Israel.
The first two, preemptive strikes against Hezbollah and Hamas and the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities, may be controversial, but are at least within the realm of current discussion.
But it was the third that crossed a line, a big line.
Here is Adler in his own words:
Third, 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?
Subsequently, Adler, facing a torrent of criticism, pulled back, claiming he just wanted “to get a reaction” from his readership, adding that “I’ve put my pen in my mouth” and “I’m writing a retraction to the column.”
It’s all well and good that Adler is rethinking his words, but they’re out there in writing, they speak volumes, and they won’t soon be forgotten. How could they?
After all, the publisher of a Jewish newspaper in a major city actually put on the table the assassination of the president of the United States.
That in itself is simply beyond belief.
In fact, language is inadequate to the challenge of describing the revulsion this evokes. Whether the Secret Service takes up the matter will, of course, be for them to decide, but it wouldn’t entirely surprise me.
The publisher then went even further.
Without any basis in fact, he asserted that the idea must have been discussed in “Israel’s most inner circles.”
I’m no more privy to those conversations than he is, but I don’t for one single moment believe they ever took place – or could conceivably occur.
Yet, given his position in Atlanta as the publisher of a Jewish newspaper, others may assume that Adler was on the inside.
So the self-described “pro-Israel to the max” column-writer, who thought he was writing a piece defending the Jewish state, ended up inflicting incalculable damage on the cause he – and so many of us – cherish.
Moreover, on the substance of his concerns about the threats to Israel, Adler should ratchet down his hysteria, which leads him to such frighteningly bizarre conclusions.
Yes, the danger to Israel is real.
Yes, the amassing of ever deadlier arsenals by Hamas, Hezbollah, and especially Iran is taking place before the world’s eyes.
And yes, Syria has shown its utter disregard for the lives of its own citizens, so how much more brazenly would it act against Israel if the chance presented itself?
But he should not underestimate Israel’s ability to deal with its neighbors.
While he’s running around like a chicken without a head, Israel, in its own inimitable way, is carefully preparing for possible regional eventualities. Israel’s enemies don’t underestimate it, nor should Adler. And, as in the past, Israel will do what’s needed to ensure its national security.
In the same vein, Adler fears the Obama administration.
Of course, he’s entitled to his own views on this, or any, president. Yet the publisher should be reminded that ballots, not bullets, are supposed to determine outcomes in democratic societies.
But, in any case, I happen to see the U.S.-Israel link in rather different terms than he does.
That’s not to say the two countries see eye to eye on everything.
Why should they? They, like all countries, begin from particular – and different – vantage points based on a range of factors.
That said, cooperation between two freedom-loving countries – and their armed forces – is close and getting closer. I have no doubt that Washington is, and will remain for the foreseeable future, fully committed to Israel’s defense.
Finally, let’s return to the title of Adler’s repulsive column, “What would you do?” but apply the question to the publisher, not the prime minister.
He should begin by asking himself whether he’s in the right business.
Owning a community newspaper and seeking to inform readers entails a larger responsibility, at least it should.
That’s not consistent, shall we say, with conjuring up scenarios for the assassination of the American president or seeking to implicate Israel in such utterly unimaginable schemes.
Clearly, Adler, for his sake and ours, ought to find a new line of work.