Publisher’s Obama assassination call tips ‘Israel-firsters’ debate

Andrew Adler, publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, urged Israel to consider assassinating President Obama. In doing so, he resolved a silly debate

Andrew Adler is the publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, and soon he’ll have to spare some time from his busy schedule to answer questions from Secret Service agents. Why? Because, when opining last week on just how Israel should deal with Iran, Adler unleashed a fantasy, and wrote that “[option] 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.”

Wow. Adler has since issued a non-apology: “I very much regret it, I wish I hadn’t made reference to it at all,” he told the JTA.

Now, no one would mistake me for a supporter of either the Netanyahu government or Israel’s out-of-control security establishment, but I am certain that had anyone suggested such a covert operation to Netanyahu, that person would be fired on the spot. And that even had Netanyahu entertained such an idea, the leadership of Mossad would submit their resignation rather than going along with the plan. What Adler wrote was a fantasy, unrelated to Israeli reality.

Which, alas, is true about much of what Jewish Americans think of Israel. However, Adler did prove a point, albeit not one he intended: He showed us that there are, in fact, American Jews who are “Israel-firsters”, that is, people who put the interests of Israel ahead of their own country. In Adler’s case, to the point of supporting the assassination of his own duly-elected president – which skirts very closely to treason.

The fact that there is a debate on this issue – that such people exist – is silly to the extreme and assumes we are people with no sense of history. To put it in one word: Pollard. In two: AIPAC espionage. But we seem to be having just such a debate.

The usual suspects – the ADL and Jeffrey Goldberg, among others – have been whining for some time about the use of “Israel-firster” by a former Center for American Progress staffer. It is worth bearing in mind that this is the second time in a short while that neo-cons have tried to paint CAP as an anti-Semitic organization: Last month, former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block tried to stir a secret smear campaign against Matt Duss, a CAP staffer, trying to make him out to be an anti-Semite. Block’s plan was exposed and backfired; We have to wonder, though, if this is phase two of the same plan. (Full disclosure: Matt Duss is a friend, he had nothing to do with the whole “Israel firster” mess, and I’ve been feted by CAP on several occasions).

Armenian Holocaust denier Abe Foxman of the ADL and his ilk are pulling their usual deceit: They insinuate that when someone describes another as an “Israel-firster”, he means to say that all American Jews are. Bullshit. The vast majority of American Jews will feel nothing but horror at Adler’s sick fantasy. Most of them would shudder at the idea of betraying their country like Jonathan Pollard did. A small number of them are, however, “Israel-firsters”: They put Israel’s interests – or, to be more precise, Greater Israel’s interest – ahead of their country’s. You can spot them easily: They generally doth protest too much about the usage of “Israel-firsters.” But, truth be told, they are insignificant. Me, I’m much more worried about the Israel-firsters of the Republican party and the evangelist movement.

Jeffrey Goldberg’s case is instructive. An American Jew who emigrated to Israel and joined the IDF, only to realize too late what a horrible mistake he was making, he was very vocal on the issue. And then he found himself being asked a nasty question by his arch nemesis, Glenn Greenwald: Did you swear an oath of allegiance to the IDF, Mr. Goldberg?

Incredibly, Goldberg claims he doesn’t remember. That’s very strange: Every IDF soldier is forced to sign just such an oath  – but Goldberg claims he doesn’t remember which pieces of paper he signed. As someone who was legally press-ganged into the IDF at the same time Goldberg volunteered to serve, I must say that piece of paper was very prominent.

Well, perhaps Goldberg’s Hebrew wasn’t up to snuff and he didn’t realize what he was signing when he did  – but, let me assure you, not signing is not an option, unless you are willing to go to military prison. One of the members of my basic training platoon tried to pull this schtick, and was promptly jailed for two weeks.  And rightly, too: You can’t be a member of the armed forces, get a weapon and military training, and not take an oath of loyalty. Orthodox Jews are allowed to say they “declare” loyalty instead of swearing it, but Goldberg didn’t take this option – This would be something he would have remembered.

But, even if Goldberg didn’t notice what he was idly signing (NOT a wise thing to do in the IDF, let me assure you), how could he have missed the celebration at the end of his basic training? They always end with the ritual taking of the oath, with an officer reading the oath and the soldiers, in the presence of their families, shouting back “I swear.” Is Goldberg seriously expecting us to believe he forgot this moment, one which many soldiers note as one of the most memorable of their service? How… convenient.

Goldberg also seems to claim that, as his military service is over, he is not bound by that oath. That may or may not be the case – is Goldberg still on the rolls of the IDF’s reserves? – but this is not the issue. The point is that while Goldberg declined to serve in the military of his native country, he volunteered to serve in the army of another nation, and took its oath of allegiance. One could hardly think of anything more indicative of being an “Israel-firster” than this. That Goldberg realized that serving in the IDF is a mistake does not clear him – most of the IDF soldiers realized this as well, and unlike him, they were not volunteers.

Which should be born in mind, when Goldberg next calls people who speak the factual truth “anti-Semites.”

Update: A previous version of this post relied on information from another paper, and linked Andrew Adler to the Chabad movement. A spokesperson for Chabad contacted +972 denying this link, and we have therefore removed references to Chabad.