Saturday, January 21, 2012

Clowns Run The Circus On Israel Discourse

Nothing can compare to the shock of reading a call by a member of one's own community to assassinate the President of the United States.  The sick and delusional editorial published by Andrew Adler of the Atlanta Jewish Times yesterday is a stain on the discourse of the American Jewish community.  In it, Mr. Adler considers a Mossad strike on President Obama as a legitimate policy option of the Netanyahu government.  Amazingly, Adler underscores the policy option and tries to justify what is essentially terrorism against the elected leader of the United States of America.

What has the American Jewish community come to when individuals like Mr. Adler are the ones moderating its discourse?  Editors are tasked with providing their readership a thought-provoking and engaging debate on critical issues of the day.  They play an essential role in informing the public and its public debates.  They ensure that this task is accomplished in a respectful and fair manner.  That an individual with Mr. Adler's beliefs could be put in charge of the editorial pages of an American Jewish publication demonstrates the extent to which the clowns are running the circus in the opinion leadership of the American Jewish community.  

Week after week, opinion leaders in the American Jewish press lambast President Obama mercilessly, calling him an Israel-hater who is in the pocket of the Muslim countries.  Playing on anecdote after anecdote, they begin with a conclusion and pick and choose the relevant facts as they please.  Obviously, criticizing the administration's policies on settlements, Iran, or Hamas is fair and legitimate.  But some opinion leaders in the American Jewish community are using these criticisms to construct a fear-based narrative about the Obama administration which is simply ludicrous.  Yet the narrative persists in American Jewish discourse because opinion leaders in that community advance it, and members of the community believe it.  And it was in the context of this paranoid narrative that Mr. Adler believed it was legitimate to call for the assassination of the President.  There can be no clearer evidence that the scare-mongering about President Obama's position on Israel has gone too far.

Real support for Israel means educating American Jews, not scaring them.  It means separating fact from fiction, and carrying out these characteristically vigorous debates in an air of respect.  If this has historically not been the tone of debate, it must be so now.  No love for Judaism and no love for Israel could justify assassination.  No editor committed to free and respectful discourse should tolerate such comments.  No community should be satisfied with anything less than full accountability when one of their own espouses casual hatred and incites violence.

Mr. Adler, please resign.

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