Like most of you, I have never met Andrew B. Adler, owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that the man is spectacularly stupid. In his contorted apologies he has described himself, after all, as "an idiot."
The three or four infantile paragraphs of vile text that Adler published in his obscure Atlanta newspaper last week - in which he suggested that Israel consider assassinating U.S. President Barack Obama - almost slipped under the radar. It was eventually picked up yesterday by Gawker.com and is now going viral.
"A fool may throw a stone into a well which even a hundred wise men cannot pull out," the saying goes. It will indeed take a long time and a great effort to undo the damage that Adler has wrought: In one fell swoop, he has defamed Israel by implying that it might, in anyone's wildest dreams, consider such a kooky conspiracy. He has stained American Jews by appearing to supposedly represent their twisted way of thinking. He has even undermined the institution of Jewish journalism by exposing the fact that it harbors such birdbrained bozos in its midst.
It is ironic that Adler's despicable diatribe comes against the backdrop of a fierce blogosphere debate that flared up yesterday about the term "Israel-firsters" and whether it is a legitimate critique or an anti-Semitic slur. Adler, for his part, has provided an example of a sub-specie of "Israel-firsters" that have not only lost track of where their loyalties lie, but have gone off the tracks altogether. He has pleased anti-Zionists and delighted anti-Semites by giving them the kind of "proof" they relish in using to accuse American supporters of Israel not of "double loyalty" but of one-sided treachery, plain and simple.
Under Israeli law, Adler could be prosecuted for inciting violence and could be sentenced to five years in jail. I do not purport to know much about the Georgian penal code. However, I note that it contains the offense of "criminal solicitation," which occurs when, "with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony, he solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct."
Adler's January 13 column might arguably fit the bill.
There is something eerily familiar about all this, of course, for anyone who was present 16 years ago at Tel Aviv's Kikar Malchei Yisrael, as it was then known, on the night that former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered. One can already envisage how Adler will be disowned; described as a "wild weed;" depicted as a lone wolf who does not represent anyone in his or anyone else's community; and used as a springboard for a righteously indignant, preemptive counteroffensive that will show how his solitary case is being exploited to score points against anyone who legitimately criticizes Obama.
And while we might all stipulate that there is no Jew anywhere in the world who is currently contemplating any act of violence against President Obama, I know, and most of you know, that Adler's crazy and criminal suggestions are not the ranting of some loony-tune individual. They were not taken out of thin air. Rather, they are the inevitable result of the inordinate volume of repugnant venom that some of Obama's political rivals, Jews and non-Jews alike, have been spewing for the last three years.
Anyone who has spent any time talking to some of the more vociferous detractors of Obama, Jewish or otherwise, has inevitably encountered those nasty nutters - and there are many - who still believe he is a Muslim, who are utterly convinced that he wants to destroy Israel, and who seriously debate whether he is more like Ahmadinejad than Arafat or - and I heard this one with my own ears - more like Hitler than Haman.
This deluge of deadly toxins need trigger just one homicidal chemical reaction in just one fanatic's brain for history to be changed forever.
The book of Deuteronomy commands the elders of the city nearest a field where a murdered corpse has been found to wash their hands over an axed heifer and swear, "Our hands have not spilled this blood and our eyes did not see." Rashi explains that even though it is clear that they had nothing to do with the murder, the responsibility of the leaders is such that they will be held liable even if they simply denied the victim food or escort.
One wonders how many of today's anti-Obama politicians and opinion-makers, the latter-day elders of yore, will be able to read Adler's crazed counsel to Benjamin Netanyahu and - may that day never come - take a good look in the mirror, wash their hands of the whole affair and declare with a clear conscience that their otherwise sharp and probing eyes didn't see a thing.
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