Andrew Adler, publisher and owner of the Atlanta Jewish Times, announced today that he will be stepping down from his role with the paper. As of now, media reports differ on whether Adler has decided to try and sell the 90-year-old paper. JTA reported that Adler wrote an email stating he is looking to sell, while according to CNN, AJT staffers said there was no announcement regarding plans to sell.
The controversy came in a speculative column that gave circumstances under which Israel, faced with a foot-dragging U.S. administration interested only in diplomacy, could consider assassinating "a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place," which was universally seen as a reference to President Barack Obama. The Secret Service is apparently investigating.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta condemned the column and stated "a call for an immediate and public apology" was issued within days of publication. The Federation suspended its relationship with AJT -- which is independent of the Federation -- until several criteria are met "to ensure no further harm comes to our community."
The criteria include no further columns by Adler following the apology this coming week, appointment of an editor-in-chief to oversee content, convening of an advisory committee of community members and leaders and to provide guidance on any change of control of the AJT, or if there is no new editor-in-chief and advisory committee, Adler selling the AJT.
Over the weekend, Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting aired an emotional interview with Adler where he apologized to Obama, Israel and the Atlanta Jewish community, stating he intended to generate more interest in the threat Israel faced from a nuclear Iran.
Among the organizations applauding his resignation was B'nai B'rith International, which stated "The damage inflicted on Israel and perhaps on U.S.-Israel relations is incalculable. We hope that Adler’s swift resignation will help quell any fallout from his outrageous scenario."
Meanwhile, Atlanta Jewish News announced today that it will begin a print edition of what had previously been an online-only presence. “The time is right for Atlanta Jewish News to publish a print edition,” said Marcy Levinson-Brooks, founder and editor-in-chief. “Atlanta benefits from a quality, comprehensive Jewish newspaper with insightful content, and our online success has laid the foundation for our move to print.”
The Atlanta Jewish News has had to deal with a slew of irate calls, emails and tweets after several media outlets, including the Forward, Jerusalem Post and the Anti-Defamation League confused the News with the AJT.