WASHINGTON— J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami issued the following statement in response to an editorial written by the publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times calling for Israel to consider assassinating President Barack Obama:
“J Street condemns in the strongest possible terms the editorial in the Atlanta Jewish Times, written by the paper’s own publisher, that included a call for Israel to consider the assassination of President Obama. Andrew Adler’s remarks are un-American and decidedly not pro-Israel. An apology is insufficient and we welcome news that the US Secret Service is taking the ‘appropriate investigative steps.’
Words can't express the repugnance that all Americans – Jewish and other – must feel toward someone who could use language like this. It is out of keeping with American and Jewish values.
This incident should serve, however, as more than an opportunity to join in condemning a lone extremist. It should be a wake-up call for the Jewish community that the discourse around the President and Israel, generally, has gotten far out of control.
One problem is that we have allowed the portion of American Jewry who disagrees with President Obama's policies to too freely call him ‘anti-Israel’ without adequate pushback from the leaders of our largest communal institutions, who know that charge to be untrue.
Further, the extremism evinced by the Atlanta Jewish Times' editor is enabled by a broader communal atmosphere in which critics of Israeli governmental policy are regularly called anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic.
While we welcome the outrage that is being focused around this latest incident, we hope that the American Jewish community will take this opportunity to consider the state of discourse over Israel more broadly.
We need to temper the rhetoric and recognize that disagreements over policy do not justify the vilification and smears that they too often bring.
We urge the community's leadership to address this broader phenomenon directly and in a coordinated and meaningful manner.”