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Left outcry at Derfner sacking like ‘dawn of new shoah’

There are six articles in this post: 1) Larry Derfner’s account of his sacking by Jerusalem Post; 2) the apology he wrote for his post on Palestinian terrorism, 3) Mondoweiss’s republication of that post; 4) a defence of Derfner by Dimi Reider in +972 mag; 5) an attack on Derfner’s argument but defence of his right to post it, by Barry Rubin; 6) an attack on Derfner and his leftist supporters (obscene, abomination, satanic, new shoah) by Donald Douglas, American Power blog

I got fired by the Jerusalem Post today
Larry Derfner, Israelleft
29.08.11

I got fired by The Jerusalem Post today. The paper got hundreds of notices of cancellations of subscription after my blog post (“The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror”) of Sunday last week; the reason being given for my firing, though, is the substance of the essay, despite the apology I published later. A page-one notice to this effect will be published in the Post tomorrow.

My apology was to have run in the Post yesterday, but a logistical mix-up prevented it. Today the paper ran a column by Isi Liebler titled “Justifying murder – an abomination,” which, like nearly all of the right-wing websites attacking my original essay (I took it down from my blog upon publishing the apology), it gives extremely short shrift to all the things I wrote that show my intent was not to encourage terror, but the opposite:

“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.”

The above section is contained in a 1,000-word essay, but you wouldn’t know it from reading the column in today’s Post or in nearly any of the right-wing sites attacking me and what I wrote. You wouldn’t know the nature of the apology I published last Friday, either – that I realized now that the terms “right” and “justify” in connection with the killing of Israelis were wrong, even “obscene,” and that despite all the disclaimers I wrote, they gave a positive connotation to terrorism, about which I find nothing positive whatsoever.

What bothers me most is not that I got fired, but that I’m not being given the opportunity to fill in the picture that’s been so distorted in today’s Post column and in right-wing Web commentaries. The parts of the picture being obscured or outright hidden would show that while I misspoke myself harmfully, my intent was not to support, endorse, advocate, encourage or call for terror against Israelis, but to end it. This intent was clear not only in my apology, but in my original essay. By skewing my words so badly, today’s Post column, the Web commentaries and what the Post will publish on page one tomorrow portray a writer announcing that he wants Israelis to get killed, instead of one who’s trying to stop that from happening.

Let me just add that I was told that the “great majority” of the Post staff opposed my firing. I’m truly grateful for the support they showed.


Apology
Larry Derfner, Israelleft
26.08.11

I have an apology to make for “The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror,” which I posted here and on Facebook on Sunday. I didn’t mean to say anything “good” about Palestinian terror against Israelis – I see nothing good in it whatsoever, and I thought I made that clear, but I see now that I didn’t.

I wrote that because of the occupation, Palestinians are “justified” in attacking, even killing Israelis, that they have the “right” to do so. Later on I stressed that I didn’t want them to kill my countrymen, and that I would do anything necessary to stop it. I meant those two points to show that I wasn’t “for” terrorism, that while I thought the occupation justified it, that didn’t mean I supported it. But I see now that the distance from “justified” to “support” is way, way too short – and I am as far away as anybody can be from supporting attacks on Israel and Israelis.

Writing that the killing of Israelis was justified and a matter of right took a vile image and attached words of seeming approval to it. This, I’m afraid, produced an “obscene” effect, as one critic wrote. I don’t want to write obscenity about Israel. I didn’t mean to, and I deeply regret it.

I meant, instead, to shock Israelis and friends of Israel into seeing how badly we’re hurting the Palestinians by denying them independence: It’s so bad that it’s helping drive them to try to kill us. This is something I believe, something liberal Israelis and friends of Israel believe, and I wrote that if we were to start saying so publicly, it might force other Israelis to finally confront the reality of what we’re doing to the Palestinians, and thereby get them to see that it’s wrong and must stop.

My intention was to shock people into recognition, but I ended up shocking many of them into revulsion, and twisting what I wanted to say into something I didn’t and don’t mean at all.

What I mean is this: The occupation does not justify Palestinian terror. It does, however, provoke it. Palestinians do not have the right to attack or kill Israelis. They, do, however, have the incentive to, and part, though not all, of that incentive is provided them by the occupation. I believe that if Israel gives the Palestinians their independence, we have enough military power to neutralize whatever leftover incentive they would have to attack us. So my purpose with regard to Palestinian terror against Israelis is not to legitimize it, God forbid, but to end it.

Again, I regret what I wrote on Sunday. I apologize to everyone who was offended by it, and I apologize to my countrymen. The post is no longer on my blog; I’ve taken it down.


Read the post for which Derfner was fired: ‘The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror’
By Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss
29.08.

Below (I believe) is the post that Larry Derfner published on his blog on August 21 but has since removed that resulted in his firing by the Jerusalem Post. I’m also publishing Derfner’s apology for this post following the original post. (I found the original at Alice in Wonder-Land. Thanks to James North and Shmuel).
The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror [link to Derfner’s site doesn’t work anymore]
Posted on August 21, 2011 by Larry Derfner

I think a lot of people who realize that the occupation is wrong also realize that the Palestinians have the right to resist it – to use violence against Israelis, even to kill Israelis, especially when Israel is showing zero willingness to end the occupation, which has been the case since the Netanyahu government took over (among other times in the past).

But people don’t want to say this, especially right after a terror attack like this last one that killed eight Israelis near Eilat. And there are lots of good reasons for this reticence, such as: You don’t want to further upset your own countrymen when they are grieving, you don’t want to say or write anything that could be picked up by Israel’s enemies and used as justification for killing more of us. (These are good reasons; fear of being called a traitor, for instance, is a bad reason.)

But I think it’s time to overcome this reticence, even at the cost of enflaming the already enflamed sensitivities of the Israeli public, because this unwillingness to say outright that Palestinians have the right to fight the occupation, especially now, inadvertently helps keep the occupation going.

When we say that the occupation is a terrible injustice to the Palestinians, but then say that Palestinian terror/resistance is a terrible injustice to Israel, we’re saying something that’s patently illogical to anyone but a pacifist, and there aren’t many pacifists left, certainly not in Israel. The logical, non-pacifist mind concludes that both of those statements can’t be true – that if A is hurting B and won’t stop, then B damn sure has the right to hurt A to try to make him stop. But if everybody, not only the Right but the Left, too, is saying that B, the Palestinians, don’t have the right to hurt A, the Israelis, then the logical mind concludes that Israel must not be hurting the Palestinians after all, the occupation must not be so bad, the occupation must not be hurting the Palestinians at all – because if it was, they would have the right to hurt us back, and everybody agrees that they don’t. So when they shoot at us or fire rockets at us, it’s completely unprovoked, which gives us the right, the duty, to bash them and bash them until they stop – and anybody who tries to deny us that right doesn’t have a leg to stand on, so we’re just going to keep right on bashing them. And when the Palestinians complain about the occupation, we Israelis can honestly say we don’t know what they’re talking about.

This, I’m convinced, is how the Left’s ritual condemnations of terror are translated in the Israeli public’s mind – as justification for the occupation and an iron-fist military policy.

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.

There’s no time for equivocation anymore, if there ever was. The mental and moral paralysis in this country must be broken. Whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile their ideology was, they were justified to attack. They had the same right to fight for their freedom as any other unfree nation in history ever had. And just like every harsh, unjust government in history bears the blame for the deaths of its own people at the hands of rebels, so Israel, which rules the Palestinians harshly and unjustly, is to blame for those eight Israeli deaths – as well as for every other Israeli death that occurred when this country was offering the Palestinians no other way to freedom.

Writing this is not treason. It is an attempt at patriotism.


Jerusalem Post fires Larry Derfner over blog post
The Jerusalem Post fired its last prominent progressive columnist over a controversial blog post, without even offering him the possibility to apologise; meanwhile, its ultra-right writers enjoy complete unaccountability. This is a watershed moment for the once-respectable publication.

Dimi Reider,+972 mag
29.08.11

News came in earlier today that the Jerusalem Post fired Larry Derfner, its last remaining prominent progressive columnist, over a post Larry wrote on his private blog, Israel Reconsidered (proper disclosure: I joined him as a co-author on the blog a few months ago). In the post, Larry expressed the not uncommon observation that the root cause of Palestinian political violence was the violence of the occupation; he called on his readers to state boldly 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,” and argued that “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.”

Larry went on to offer the following reservations:

“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.”

Despite all that, Derfner came under a not so much a wave of criticism as a sustained barrage of refuse; one characteristically can be found in the column of his erstwhile colleague Isi Leibler (assuming you haven’t had your lunch yet.) Although Larry’s post didn’t appear in the newspaper, and although he Larry offered to publish an apology on the Jpost pages as well, after it got “hundreds of notices of cancellations.” Apparently, “a logistical mix-up prevented it.”

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 guerrilla 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.

Now, I’m not suggesting Glick and the author of that editorial (assuming they’re not the same person) should be fired for their opinions. There are many other reasons not to retain Glick’s services. Serious complaints of her conservative column’s ultra-liberal attitude to facts should be a warning sign for any reader; her suggestions regarding the possibility of an alliance between Israel and the Vatican, instead of fickle, fickle USA, are enough to give anybody pause; and as far as embarrassing appearances outside the Jpost go, her responsibility for a “satirical” clip showing a blackface minstrel Barack Obama singing to Israel’s destruction is hard to forget.

Yet Glick’s right to express even the strangest and most obsolete of opinion from the pages of what publication would have her remains in place and should not be infringed upon. Opinion is up there to be read, to be disagreed with and to be criticised; this is the fundamental principle of op-ed pages. The Jerusalem Post has obviously sunk so low and became wedded to Glenn-Beck-type readership so tightly it now applies this principle to conservative opinion only. Pity. It used to be a newspaper once.


Larry Derfner Should Be Debated, Not Fired
By Barry Rubin, Gloria Center
29.08.11

The Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner was fired today because he wrote on his blog a statement many readers saw as justifying Palestinian terrorism against Israelis. As so often happens when people focus on a single sentence of an article, they’re missing the point, or at least the most important point. It also throws away what President Barack Obama calls a teachable moment.

The issue here is not “left” versus “right” but rather what is true and what is not.

In addition, columnists should not be continued in their jobs if their writing is not interesting or is factually inaccurate, not because they write something that people don’t like.

All too often nowadays the response to disagreement is to try to destroy people on the other side of the argument, to delegitimize them with name-calling and to silence them. That’s not the way democratic debate is supposed to work. If you think someone is wrong then answer the substance of the statements being made.

I don’t think Derfner should have been fired. Rather the point is that people should have answered what he said. Like Gideon Levy of Haaretz he is still arguing the line that terrorism is basically Israel’s fault. They hate us and want to kill us because we haven’t made enough concessions and because we are oppressing them. That’s the issue, not “justifying” terrorism.

Of course, Derfner’s position implies that if Israel ended the “occupation” and accepted a Palestinian state, terrorism, incitement, and hatred would stop. Many people throughout the world think the same thing.

That is a point worth debating. Since 1993, Israel has been trying out that theory and it has proven to be false. Unfortunately, and I wish things were different, we learned that the Palestinian leadership doesn’t want compromise and is unable to deliver it.

There are two problems here. First, the Palestinian leaders seek to wipe Israel off the map and are not in favor of a lasting, stable, and peaceful two-state solution. We know this by reading their words in Arabic, watching the institutions they direct, and observing their actions.

Second, the Palestinian leaders–including those like Prime Minister Salam Fayyad–who do want negotiated compromise solution are too weak to bring it about. They fear their own people who they’ve been inciting toward extremism for years; the hardline mainstream within Fatah; and, of course, their Hamas rivals.

So, no, giving more territory; accepting a Palestinian state unconditionally; letting terrorist attacks on Israel go unanswered by retaliation; and so on will not solve the problem. I genuinely wish it were otherwise. It would be far better if Israel’s left-wing was correct and there was an easy and quick way to achieve full peace through a two-state solution this week.

Unfortunately, this wishful thinking is wrong and we have seen massive evidence to that effect. That’s why the vast majority of Israelis–including those who in the past voted for people like Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ehud Barak to be prime minister (for example, me), also know this is true.

Let’s examine the issue. Derfner says that the “denial of independence” to the Palestinians is so bad that it’s helping drive them to try to kill us.

1. But wait! Didn’t they used to say that it was the occupation that is helping drive them to try to kill us?

But now there’s no “occupation” (except in 20 percent of Hebron and east Jerusalem) and they are still trying to kill us! And guess what? If they get independence they will still try to kill us because it will be Israel’s existence and the status of the “pre-1948″ Palestinians that is “so bad that it’s helping drive them to try to kill us.”

2. There’s another way to look at this, too. If denying them independence is, “so bad that it’s helping drive them to try to kill us.”
Thus, if they obtained independence would they be so grateful, so happy, or so busy building up their country that they would stop trying to kill us?

No. We know–even many of the most dovish and leftist of us–that they will continue to try to kill us from a better strategic position that would make it more likely they would succeed. So what good would that step do? And that is precisely why Israelis are not eager to support independence without any preconditions.

Indeed, a few minutes after writing this piece, I noticed that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has stated that even if the UN recognizes the independence of Palestine, he and his government will still demand that all Palestinians who lived within Israel’s borders before 1948 or any descendants of such people can demand to go live in Israel and Israel must let them in. Or there cannot be peace: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=235789.
You see, there’s no end to this.

What happens when two weeks after independence there are more cross-border attacks? What happens if incitement continues? What happens if Hamas or radical Fatah forces seize power? What happens if the state of Palestine invites in foreign Arab forces or imports missiles or forms an alliance with Egypt or other stets? I said “if” but I mean “when.” And the lack of an agreed and defined border, as well as the presence of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip (which the Fatah-led leadership of Palestine would support against Israel) would guarantee tension and a likely crisis before long and periodically thereafter.

At that point, if Israel were to retaliate for an attack or act against a build-up of military forces against itself, that would constitute international aggression in the eyes of many, including a majority in the UN General Assembly. Nobody would help Israel deal with this threat, including the current government of the United States.

To leap into such a situation in the hope–without evidence–that they would then “stop trying to kill us” is insane. No Israeli government would do it and that’s the correct decision.

3. And who is “them” when we discuss the Palestinians? Because obviously “them” doesn’t apply to Hamas (the group that happens to run almost half of the Palestinian territories) or to many other Palestinian groups and leaders that aren’t Islamist. It doesn’t even apply to most of Fatah.

In short, Derfner’s formulation is nonsense. And to understand why it is nonsense is the essential point to understanding the conflict, the failure of the “Peace Process,” and the Middle East.

But that doesn’t mean he should be fired.


Larry Derfner Fired by Jerusalem Post
Donald Douglas , American Power blog
29.08.11

Well, let’s go straight to the source: “I got fired by the Jerusalem Post today.”
I got fired by The Jerusalem Post today. The paper got hundreds of notices of cancellations of subscription after my blog post (“The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror”) of Sunday last week; the reason being given for my firing, though, is the substance of the essay, despite the apology I published later. A page-one notice to this effect will be published in the Post tomorrow.
The pro-terror Mondoweiss has the full essay, “Read the post for which Derfner was fired: “‘The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror’.”

Jawa Report applauds: “Jerusalem Post Writer Larry Derfner Fired for Justifying Palestinian Terror.”

And here’s this, from Isi Leibler, “Justifying Murder – An Abomination” (at Memeorandum):
‘Derfner is an Israeli Jew professionally employed by the only English-language newspaper in Israel. For him to justify the barbaric murder of his own brothers and sisters on a public website represents the ultimate abomination. It is unforgiveable.’

Presumably in response to massive protests directed against him, Derfner “apologized” a week after his article appeared and deleted it from his website. However, he had the chutzpah to reiterate the justification for terrorism, merely stating that he does not endorse the murder of fellow Israelis. This is neither a retraction nor an apology.

His obscene and callously insensitive remarks are likely to haunt him for the rest of his life.

Some may question Derfner’s dismissal (I’m not bothered by it, but I wouldn’t have called for his firing). What bothers me is that Derfner’s ideas are frankly mainstream among the Israel-hating left. That is, Derfner was only stating publically the exact thoughts of the progressive Israel-delegitimation industry. See, for example, Dimi Reider’s obscene endorsement of Derfner, and his claim that it’s Caroline Glick who should be fired: “Jerusalem Post fires Larry Derfner over blog post.” And there’s more than 50 comments at Mondoweiss as this post goes live, almost all in support of Derfner. I mean seriously, it’s like bloodlust:

’For wannabe international lawyers, I can’t overemphasize that at times, attacks on civilians are perfectly legal and legitimate. The proper language is “protected non-combatants.” Jewish Zionist settler-colonists in the Occupied Territories cannot be considered protected non-combatants by any stretch of the imagination.’

And Phillip Weiss enters the comments to add:

’Larry, are you out there, do you want to post any response to the many comments at this site? Let me emphasize, you have my great sympathy on this occasion, and I like to think that your best work will flow from this very painful and upsetting incident…’

So, again, while I wouldn’t have called for Derfner’s termination, it’s clear that his words were not only incitement to terrorism, but that his views are perfectly representative of the progressive, neo-communist left’s eliminationist ideological agenda. And once again, this is what I point out repeatedly at this blog. It’s not leftist opposition to Israeli policies. It’s leftist opposition to Israel and the Jews. It’s the dawn of the new Shoah. And I will stand up against these satanic progressive fuckers as long as I live.

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