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Obama in Atlanta

Jan 29, 2012 at 05:38:20 AM

My friend Harve Linder in Atlanta shared his thoughts regarding an ill-advised op-ed piece by the publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times. In discussing how to get the United States to stand more firmly behind its ally Israel, the publisher proposed three scenarios for Israel to protect itself:

(1) Order a pre-emptive strike on Hezbollah and Hamas.

(2) Destroy Iran's nuclear facilities "at all costs."

(3) "Give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel..."

In case we didn’t get it the first time, the author repeats: "Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel's existence."

Aside from the incitement ― which the Jewish community of Atlanta rightfully condemned in the strongest terms ― there is the issue of responsible use of power. For while each of us free to speak our mind, we must be cognizant of the ramifications of our words.

At which point has the line of “free speech” been crossed? In a crowded theatre, it’s when shouting “fire” causes a panic. In an editorial by a Jewish publisher in a Jewish newspaper, it’s when his words cast pallor upon other Jews.

In this case, those who heard about this story (and many did, thanks to the Internet), the Jews dropped a rung on the ladder of  public perception. Like it or not, the reality of today's world is that when a Jew ― particularly one of authority or stature ― speaks, he is perceived as speaking on behalf of all Jews.

The publisher lost his credibility and his job. Before a person speaks, he must be aware of the consequences. When a Jewish public figure speaks, all the more so.

January 29, 2012

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