There’s no doubt about it: Andrew B. Adler, the editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times, is a fool. His article advocating the assassination of President Obama has by now been broadcast all over the internet, and brought condemnation from every quarter down on his head. His tearful apologies, his denials that he actually meant to call for Obama’s death, and the swiftness with which major Jewish organizations distanced themselves from his crazed call are, perhaps, punishment enough for the poor man: I can’t help feeling sorry for him.
The Atlanta Jewish Times is not exactly the Forward: with a circulation of around 3,000, it is an obscure publication that carries news of the local Jewish community and is seemingly typical of the dozens of similar niche newspapers throughout the country – except, of course, for the views of its editor, which are by no means typical of the Jewish community. That being said, this incident underscores a phenomenon that has been largely overlooked until recently, and that is the extremism of a certain segment of the pro-Israel community. That this element is present in the Jewish community was acknowledged by none other than my old friend Abe Foxman, of the Anti-Defamation League, in his statement condemning Adler’s piece:
“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 is right: there are indeed extremists among us who could easily be incited to act on Adler’s recommendation – and not all or even most of them are of the Jewish faith. We have millions of Christians in this country who have theological reasons for fanatically supporting the state of Israel, even over and above the interests of their own country – not that they would ever admit the possibility of any “daylight” between the nations. They are, to put it in popular parlance, “Israel-Firsters,” and proudly so.
Adler, for his part, appears to be at least a sympathizer of the Chabad movement, an international ultra-orthodox movement some of whose followers reportedly cheered the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist. I won’t get into their theological justification for such kookiness: suffice to say that Chabad has allied itself with the most extreme elements, including within Israel, with parties and politicians who call for the expulsion of all Arabs. Chabad of Georgia claims Adler is not a member, but this has to be taken with a very large grain of salt: after all, visitors to the web site of his newspaper are greeted by a promotion for the local Chabad organization.
Whether he is an official member, or merely a sympathizer, is a detail, however: the larger picture is that the scenario imagined by Adler in his piece reflects the all-too-familiar narrative put out there by our Israel-Firsters, and by the Netanyahu government, which is that Israel currently faces an “existential” crisis, the inevitable result of which will be a second Holocaust:
“You are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. You are responsible for 7 million Israeli citizens who comprise the state of Israel. You wake up one morning, and the Israel Defense Forces’ military commander hands you a detailed report regarding what to expect during a major conflict with Hezbollah and Syria five years from today.
“The report states that Israel will come under fire from 15,000 rockets and missiles, and that casualties will be in the thousands. That’s thousands, not hundreds - thousands.
“Simultaneously, another IDF military commander strolls over while you are finishing your first cup of coffee and hands you a report that Iran has reached nuclear launch capabilities.
“If that’s not enough, an Israeli diplomat informs you that you cannot expect much help from the United States due to its newly implemented military budget and the administrations never ending “Alice in Wonderland” belief that diplomacy is the answer.
"To all the Netanyahus out there, what do you do?”
Adler has three suggestions: 1) “Order a pre-emptive strike against both Hezbollah and Hamas,” 2) “Go against Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s wishes that Israel take a lethal bullet in the name of preserving a healthy, worldwide economic climate, and order the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities at all costs”, and 3) “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.”
January 24, 2012
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.
Copyright © 2012 Antiwar.com