The owner of a Jewish newspaper in Atlanta has said he deeply regrets writing a column suggesting that Israel consider “a hit” on Barack Obama if he stands in the way of the Jewish state defending itself.
Andrew Adler told the Guardian he wrote the column in the weekly Atlanta Jewish Times “to get a reaction” from the paper’s readers.
“The headline for the column was: ‘What would you do?’ That’s what I wanted to see,” he said. “It’s got like a Dr Phil reaction: what were you thinking? I feel really bad it did that.”
The column, first brought to light by Gawker, asks readers to imagine that they are the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, confronting the threat posed by Hezbollah and Iran’s nuclear programme while also under pressure from a US president with an “Alice in Wonderland” belief in diplomacy over force.
Adler lays out what he says are the three options available to Netanyahu: attack Hezbollah and Hamas; defy the US – which is willing to let “Israel take a lethal bullet” – by striking against Iran’s nuclear facilities; or a third option.
“Three, give the go-ahead for US-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 wrote in a column that appeared in print by not online.
“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?”
Adler went on to ask: “How far would you go to save a nation comprised of 7 million lives – Jews, Christians and Arabs alike? You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table.”
Adler said he understood why readers might interpret his writing as suggesting that Israel is seriously considering assassinating the US president but that is not what he meant.
“No, no, no. It’s unfathomable, unthinkable,” he said, adding: “I’m definitely pro-Israel to the max.”
Adler said he intends to repudiate the column in the next edition of the paper.
“I’ve put my pen in my mouth,” he said. “I’m writing a retraction to the column.”
The Atlanta Jewish Times was founded in 1925 as the Southern Israelite. Adler bought the paper three years ago. It has a circulation of several thousand copies a week.