WASHINGTON (JTA) — The owner of the Atlanta Jewish Times apologized for an opinion column in which he counted President Obama’s assassination as among Israel’s options in heading off a nuclear Iran.
"I very much regret it, I wish I hadn’t made reference to it at all," Andrew Adler told JTA on Friday.
He said he would publish an apology in his next edition, and that reaction from readers had been overwhelmingly negative.
Fox News reported late Friday on its website that the Secret Service was investigating the column. In his interview with JTA, Adler said he had not been approached by the Secret Service.
In a Jan. 13 column, Adler, who is also the paper’s publisher, outlined what he said were three possible responses by Israel to Iran’s acquiring a nuclear weapon: a pre-emptive strike against Hamas and Hezbollah, terrorist groups that he said would be emboldened by a nuclear Iran; a direct strike on Iran; and "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."
He continued: "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?"
Gawker, the gossip and media news website, first reported on the column Friday.
Ophir Aviran, the Israeli consul general in Atlanta, condemned the column "in the strongest possible terms."
In response to a JTA request for comment, Aviran said in an e-mail that he was "appalled at this deranged and morally repugnant assertion."
The Anti-Defamation League condemned Adler’s column as "outrageous."
"An apology cannot possibly repair the damage," said the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, in a statement.
Foxman added that "Mr. Adler’s lack of judgment as a publisher, editor and columnist raises serious questions as to whether he’s fit to run a newspaper."