Monday, August 29, 2011


My favorite Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner was fired for his provocative piece "The Awful Necessary Truth About Palestinian Terror Attacks" following the recent attacks:
But if, on the other hand, we were to say very forthrightly what many of us believe and the rest of us suspect – that the Palestinians, like every nation living under hostile rule, have the right to fight back, that their terrorism, especially in the face of a rejectionist Israeli government, is justified – what effect would that have? A powerful one, I think, because the truth is powerful. If those who oppose the occupation acknowledged publicly that it justifies Palestinian terrorism, then those who support the occupation would have to explain why it doesn’t. And that’s not easy for a nation that sanctifies the right to self-defense; a nation that elected Irgun leader Menachem Begin and Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir as prime minister.

“But while I think the Palestinians have the right to use terrorism against us, I don’t want them to use it, I don’t want to see Israelis killed, and as an Israeli, I would do whatever was necessary to stop a Palestinian, oppressed or not, from killing one of my countrymen. (I also think Palestinian terrorism backfires, it turns people away from them and generates sympathy for Israel and the occupation, so I’m against terrorism on a practical level, too, but that’s besides the point.)

“The possibility that Israel’s enemies could use my or anybody else’s justification of terror for their campaign is a daunting one; I wouldn’t like to see this column quoted on a pro-Hamas website, and I realize it could happen.

“Still, I don’t think Hamas and their allies need any more encouragement, so whatever encouragement they might take from me or any other liberal Zionist is coals to Newcastle. What’s needed very badly, however, is for Israelis to realize that the occupation is hurting the Palestinians terribly, that it’s driving them to try to kill us, that we are compelling them to engage in terrorism, that the blood of Israeli victims is ultimately on our hands, and that it’s up to us to stop provoking our own people’s murder by ending the occupation.

“And so long as we who oppose the occupation keep pretending that the Palestinians don’t have the right to resist it, we tacitly encourage Israelis to go on blindly killing and dying in defense of an unholy cause. And by tacitly encouraging Israelis in their blindness, I think we endanger their lives and ours, their country and ours, much more than if we told the truth and got quoted on Hamas websites.”
His article caused an uproar in Israel and the piece was removed.  He penned an apology, but it wasn't enough.  So the Jpost sacked him.

Writing in the online mag +972, Dimi Reider does a great job addressing the column and the Jpost:
Larry’s main thesis – that Palestinian terrorism is bound to Israeli military violence – is about as old as the state, if not older; even Moshe Dayan has said as much. I strongly disagree with the phrasing – I myself wouldn’t use “right” or “justified” anywhere near violence against civilians, be it Palestinians killing Israelis, Soviet Partisans killing German civilians, Algiers guerrila blowing up cafes, or Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin blowing up Arab marketplaces. Still, the dismissal, despite offers to retract and apologise, is an outrage that dwarfs any conceivable damage caused by Larry’s text. Unfortunate phrasing of an unpleasant argument on a third-party forum cannot be a reason for the dismissal of a veteran columnist; but obviously, for the Jerusalem Post it was more than enough of an excuse.
Larry’s dismissal is made all the more obscene by virtue of the light it sheds on the egregious double-standard that once-professional publication now employs in regard to conservative versus liberal opinion; I say that as someone who fondly remembers the fairly conservative op-ed editor of my own time at the Post soliciting op-ed pieces he openly disagreed with. Larry worries his post might end up on some Hamas website. This is yet to occur, and even if it does take place, it’s doubtful it would influence the decision of any young Palestinian whether to become a terrorist or not. By contrast, the writings of Jerusalem Post deputy-editor Caroline Glick were cited in the manic manifesto of Norwegian terrorist Anders Brevik in justification of the bloodbath he executed earlier this summer; unlike Derfner, Glick has yet to be shown the door.
Moreover, right after the Norway carnage the Jerusalem Post published an outlandish editorial suggesting the calculated, murderous rampage of a self-confessed xenophobe was an opportunity for Norway to revisit its immigration policy. The editorial was so beyond the pale the Post only put it up on the website with a disclaimer, and sparked such an outrage in Norway the newspaper had to spend another editorial on an apology; to my knowledge, all of those responsible for this serialised farce kept their jobs. Not so for Derfner.
He was the last lefty at the paper, now my former stomping grounds are just a right-wing rag.  Sad.  

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