Jewish Paper’s Column Catches Secret Service Eye After Column Mulls Assassination Of President

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The U.S. Secret Service is looking into a controversial column by an Atlanta Jewish newspaper publisher that mulled the assassination of an American president.

Andrew Adler, owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, wrote a January 13 column about the threat of Iran to Israel. He posed three options for the Jewish state to counter the Iranian regime.

One of them called for a “hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence.”

“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.”

U.S. Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie told CNN Saturday, “We are aware of it. We are taking the appropriate investigative steps.”

Adler could not be reached for comment, but the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a wire service for Jewish newspapers in North America, quoted Adler on Friday as saying “I very much regret it. I wish I hadn’t made reference to it at all.”

Adler — who said he’s gotten a lot of flak for the column — said he would issue an apology in the next edition of the weekly newspaper, the JTA reported.

The column, entitled “What would you do?” doesn’t mention President Barack Obama’s name, but U.S. Jewish groups that strongly denounced the column read the words as a reference to Obama himself. The column also refers to the administration’s “never ending ‘Alice in Wonderland’ belief that diplomacy is the answer,” an apparent dig at the Obama White House’s foreign policy efforts at dialogue with such countries as Iran.

“The suggestion by anyone, in this case a Jewish newspaper publisher, that Israel should consider assassinating President Obama is shocking beyond belief,” said Dov Wilker, director of the American Jewish Committee in Atlanta.

“While we acknowledge Mr. Adler’s apology, we are flabbergasted that he could ever say such a thing in the first place. How could he even conceive of such a twisted idea?” said Wilker. “Mr. Adler surely owes immediate apologies to President Obama, as well as to the State of Israel and his readership, the Atlanta Jewish community.”

The White House declined to comment Saturday on the column.

Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said Adler’s “lack of judgment as a publisher, editor and columnist raises serious questions as to whether he’s fit 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,'” Foxman said.

Simon Wiesenthal Center associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper called the remarks “irresponsible and reprehensible” and said they “must be publicly condemned by Jewish leaders across the ideological and political spectrum.”

“We take small comfort from the apology — what a shanda!” Cooper said, using the Yiddish word for something shameful or scandalous.

JTA also quoted Ophir Aviran, the Israeli consul-general in Atlanta as saying he was “appalled at this deranged and morally repugnant assertion.”

The Atlanta Jewish Times, a weekly focused on the Atlanta Jewish community, was founded in 1925 as the Southern Israelite.

(Source: CNN)


8 COMMENTS

  1. The Secret Service should not be “looking into it”; however regrettable the article may be, it’s clearly protected by the first amendment, and having the Secret Service “look into it” would have a chilling effect on free speech.

  2. I shall hit the president in the most painful way:- i.e. By voting for Republican on November 6th, irrespective of who ends up running; & in 2nd most painful way:- At the primaries voting for republican candidate I believe has highest chance of tossing Obama out of White House irrespective of anything else this Republican candidate may stand for.

  3. Hasn’t the editor heard of the commandment not to murder – or did he skip that line when he read the Chumash? If Iran is a threat then find a way to take care of Iran. If Obama is putting pressure on Israel not to do that then ignore the pressure.

    In terms of free speech – that is balanced by the fact that it is against the law to threaten the life of the president (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threatening_the_President_of_the_United_States).

  4. #5, What threat? The article contained no threat; therefore it was protected beyond any doubt, and for the Secret Service to nevertheless investigate it is a clear breach of the first amendment, because of the chilling effect such an investigation will have.

  5. Let me be perfectly clear. A threat means that someone says he will actually do something, in a way that would cause a reasonable person to believe that he will actually do it. If I tell someone on the street “I will punch you in the face”, that is a threat. But if I tell him “I will reach inside you and pull out your intestines”, that is not a threat, because no reasonable person would believe that I mean to actually do it. Everyone understands that it’s an exaggeration.

    But if I don’t say I WILL do it, but rather I express my OPINION that somebody ought to do it, then it’s not a threat at all. If I tell someone on the street “you are so obnoxious that somebody ought to punch you in the face”, that is not a threat, and it is perfectly legal. And the same applies to an opinion that the president ought to be killed. It is 100% legal to say “I believe that the president should be killed”. The first amendment protects our right to say this.

    The only exception is that if we say it in an emotional way to a person or crowd that has been whipped up to an emotional state, in a manner that is calculated to cause someone to go immediately and act on this opinion, AND someone actually does so, then it’s incitement, which is a crime and is not protected. But incitement is very limited. The speech must be calculated to cause someone to act IMMEDIATELY, WITHOUT THINKING. If a college professor gives a calm lecture on why he believes the Jews ought to be wiped out, that is protected speech, and he can’t even be fired from his job, let alone arrested; but if an antisemitic demagogue addresses a mob and shouts to them “kill the Jews”, and they go ahead and kill a Jew, that is incitement and he can go to prison for it.