WASHINGTON (JTA) — The owner of the Atlanta Jewish Times apologized for an opinion column in which he counted President Obama’s assassination as among Israel’s options in heading off a nuclear Iran.
“I very much regret it, I wish I hadn’t made reference to it at all,” Andrew Adler told JTA on Friday.
He said he would publish an apology in his next edition, and that reaction from readers had been overwhelmingly negative.
Fox News reported late Friday on its website that the Secret Service was investigating the column. In his interview with JTA, Adler said he had not been approached by the Secret Service.
In a Jan. 13 column, Adler, who is also the paper’s publisher, outlined what he said were three possible responses by Israel to Iran’s acquiring a nuclear weapon: A preemptive strike against Hamas and Hezbollah, terrorist groups that he said would be emboldened by a nuclear Iran; a direct strike on Iran; and “three, 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.”
He continued: “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?”
Gawker, the gossip and media news website, first reported on the column Friday.
Ophir Aviran, the Israeli consul-general in Atlanta, condemned the column “in the strongest possible terms.”
In response to a JTA request for comment, Aviran said in an email that he was “appalled at this deranged and morally repugnant assertion.”
The Anti-Defamation League condemned Adler’s column as “outrageous.”
“An apology cannot possibly repair the damage,” said the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, in a statement.
Foxman added: “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.”
“It is the height of irresponsibility to make the horrific suggestion that the State of Israel should assassinate the President of the United States of America,” wrote David A. Harris of the National Jewish Democratic Council, according to a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Update – 1.23.12
JTA reported today that Andrew Adler, owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, “has resigned and is seeking a buyer in the wake of a column he wrote speculating that Israel would consider assassinating President Obama.”
Andrew Adler, in an email obtained by JTA, announced Monday that he is “relinquishing all day-to-day activities effective immediately” following the publishing of his opinion piece saying that Obama’s assassination was among Israel’s options in heading off a nuclear Iran.
Adler named staff writer John McCurdy as interim managing editor until a replacement can be found. Adler said he would publish an apology in his next edition and that reaction from readers had been overwhelmingly negative.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta said earlier Monday that it would suspend its relationship with the Atlanta Jewish Times until Adler removed himself from the newspaper’s operations. The federation also called on Adler to sell the weekly.
“While we acknowledge his public apology and remorse, the damage done to the people of Israel, the global Jewish people, and especially the Jewish Community of Atlanta is irreparable,” the Atlanta federation said in a statement issued Monday to constituent groups.
Atlanta Jewish Times owner Andrew Adler issues an emotional apology in an exclusive video interview with AIB-TV Executive Producer Audrey Galex: