March-April 2012, Page 34
By George S. Hishmeh
It is unbelievable, actually bewildering, that an American newspaperman should suggest that one of three options facing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the conflict with Iran over its nuclear policies is to assassinate the American president. Although he did not mention Barack Obama by name, all those who read the column felt this American president was the target.
But what has been equally appalling has been the failure of the American media, by and large, to cover this shocking development that surfaced in January. Surprisingly, it hardly attracted national attention except within the influential American Jewish community and the American Jewish media, since the author of the column was the Jewish publisher and editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times.
An Arab American who runs a think tank in Washington but refused to be identified wondered, in an e-mail sent to me, what would have been the consequences had the author been an Arab American. Certainly, the uproar would have been sky high, but obviously not in the case of this Jewish newspaper.
The Jewish editor of the paper, Andrew B. Adler, outlined in his column three options that Israel, unlike the Obama administration, will be facing in the alleged threat posed by Iran: Strike Hezbollah and Hamas, strike Iran, or "order a hit" on the president, Barack Obama.
Adler's option three reads:
"Give the go-ahead for U.S.-based [Israeli] Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president [Joe Biden] to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States' policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.
"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?
"You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table."
Adler's shocking suggestion has obviously touched off an outcry within the influential Jewish community, minimal attention from two television networks and virtual silence by the country's major newspapers. An influential member of one liberal Jewish organization, who asked not to be identified, pointed his finger at the Republic Jewish Coalition, a political lobbying group which fervently supports Israel and the remaining Republican presidential candidates for the subdued silence elsewhere.
"Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel's existence."
Although the White House has yet to comment on Adler's loud opinion, probably so as not to agonize the Jewish community, the Secret Service is said to be aware of the column, titled "What would you do?" and "are taking the appropriate investigative steps."
What all this means is that President Obama has to watch his step, nationally and internationally in the next few months, a position that may not satisfy each side especially as far as the various issues now being debated or articulated in the Middle East. Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the extremist Anti-Defamation League, dismissed an apology from Adler because in his opinion it "cannot possibly repair the damage." He acknowledged that "the ideas expressed in Mr. Adler's column reflect some of the extremist rhetoric that unfortunately exists—even in some segments of our [Jewish] community—that maliciously labels President Obama as an enemy of the Jewish people." Adler did apologize for what was described as "incendiary rhetoric" and has stepped away from his paper, established in 1925, and which he bought less than three years ago.
On the other hand, Israel's targeted assassinations of yesteryears are well known in the Arab world going back to the so-called 1954 Lavon Affair, a failed Israeli covert operation that involved planting bombs inside Egyptian, American and British-owned targets in Egypt, and, more recently, its alleged role in the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.
Tangentially, the American media has to examine itself more seriously. It should not remain silent when an American president is threatened.
Meantime, The New York Times, much to its credit, exclusively reported on Jan. 17 that a shady feature film titled "The Third Jihad" was shown to nearly 1,500 police officers as part of training in the New York Police Department.
As the Times described the film, "Ominous music plays as images appear on the screen. Muslim terrorists shoot Christians in the head, car bombs explode, executed children lie covered by sheets and a doctored photograph shows an Islamic flag flying by the White House."
The paper continued: "News that police trainers showed this film so extensively comes as the department wrestles with its relationship with the city's large Muslim community." It added that the Police Department offers no apology for "aggressively" spying on Muslim groups although civil rights advocates say the department, "in its zeal, has trampled on civil rights, blurred lines between foreign and domestic spying and sown fear among Muslims."
George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He can be contacted at <Hishmehg@aol.com>.