On Jan. 13 the Atlanta Jewish Times featured a column by its owner-publisher suggesting that Israel might someday need to "order a hit" on the president of the United States.
In the column, publisher Andrew Adler describes a scenario in which Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu would need to "give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel."
The purpose? So that the vice president could then take office and dictate U.S. policies that would help the Jewish state "obliterate its enemies."
Adler wrote that it is highly likely that the idea "has been discussed in Israel's most inner circles."
Numerous Jewish leaders quickly condemned Adler, who has now apologized for the column, resigned, and put the newspaper up for sale. An Israeli columnist noted that the hatred being stirred up against Obama is similar to conditions in Israel that led to the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist.
Many of those criticizing Adler claim that he defamed Israel by suggesting that it would ever do such a thing. Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), proclaimed: "There is absolutely no excuse, no justification, no rationalization for this kind of rhetoric. It doesn't even belong in fiction."
In reality, however, Adler's expectation that Israel's inner circles have explored such a course of action, and would be willing to undertake it, may be entirely accurate. The fact is that Israel has killed and plotted to assassinate people throughout the world; a number have been Americans. One alleged plot was chillingly similar to Adler's suggestion.
There is evidence that in 1991 an Israeli undercover team planned to assassinate a U.S. president. The intended victim was George Herbert Walker Bush.
The first person to write of the plot was a former 11-term Republican congressman from Illinois, Paul Findley. In a 1992 article in the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs, Findley described the alleged scheme and how it was revealed.
Findley wrote that the U.S. Secret Service had received a warning that elements of Israel's spy agency might target Bush when he went to Madrid for the opening day of the peace conference to be held that year.
According to Findley, a former Mossad agent named Victor Ostrovsky, who had written a book exposing Israel's spy agency, told a group of Canadian parliamentarians that he had received secret intelligence suggesting that the "the Mossad's hatred of Bush -- and support for Vice President Dan Quayle -- might lead to an attempt on the president's life."
Israel considered Quayle much closer to Israel than Bush. Bush had particularly angered Israel by attempting to pressure Israel into ending its illegal settlement expansion on confiscated Palestinian land by withholding loan guarantees until Israel ended this practice.
Findley wrote that Ostrovsky's statements were relayed to Findley's friend and former colleague Paul "Pete" McCloskey, a prominent former Republican congressman from California who had recently been named by Bush to the National and Community Service Commission.
McCloskey, a decorated Marine veteran and graduate of Stanford Law School who had at one time been considered a presidential contender, flew to Ottawa to debrief Ostrovsky in person and evaluate his information.
Findley reported that Ostrovsky told McCloskey that the Mossad wanted "to do everything possible to preserve a state of war between Israel and its neighbors, assassinating President Bush, if necessary." Ostrovsky said that a PR campaign was already underway in both Israel and the United States to "prepare public acceptance of Dan Quayle as president."
Convinced that Ostrovsky was legitimate and his information significant, McCloskey jumped on the next flight to Washington, where he reported Ostrovsky's intelligence to the Secret Service and State Department.