(ATLANTA) — The publisher of a Jewish newspaper who suggested in a column that Israel assassinate President Obama says he didn’t mean for his idea to be taken seriously and that he was just trying to get his readers to react.
Andrew Adler, the publisher, wrote in the Jan. 13 edition of the Atlanta Jewish Times that Israeli agents could “take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel” to protect itself (other options he listed were attacking Hezbollah and Hamas, and destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities).
Adler doesn’t put his own columns online, but Gawker uploaded a copy of it Friday. Adler told ABC News that he has been getting a flurry of calls — from readers, reporters and rabbis — and that he regrets ever writing it. His column next week, he said, will be an apology. The paper has between 3,000 and 4,000 subscribers.
“I’m not advocating anything,” Adler said, calling himself an “idiot” who put his “pen in my mouth.”
“Do I regret writing what I did? Very much so,” he said.
Adler was unambiguous in his column, which was presented as a hypothetical situation from the perspective of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s facing potentially disastrous conflicts with the Arab world. He said his piece has gotten more reaction than anything he has written since the 1970s.
“Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence,” he wrote. “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?”
A Secret Service spokesman, Max Milien, said Adler could be interviewed as part of an investigation, although he wouldn’t say whether an investigation was formally opened.
“We are aware of this matter, and we will make all appropriate, investigative follow-up in regard to this matter,” Milien said.
Adler said the Secret Service hasn’t contacted him. But a few rabbis have called Adler to say, “you’re a meshugenah,” the Yiddish word for “nuts.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Lisa Respers France, CNN
Grant Olsen, KSL.com
Saeed Ahmed and Thom Patterson, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN