Thursday, September 08, 2011

More Derfner

1. More on the Derfner Affair
(open web page to see links)

Israel's Derfner Affair
Posted By Steven Plaut On September 8, 2011

One of the most bizarre controversies concerning freedom of the press
and freedom of speech has been afflicting Israel in recent days. The
basic question is whether there exists some sort of right to advocate
the mass murder of Jews.
That sounds as if it is some sort of debate that took place in the
1930s in the darkest regimes. The entire affair began when a
far-leftist columnist for the only English-language newspaper in
Israel, the Jerusalem Post, expressed support for such a right to
conduct mass murder of Jews. The columnist is Larry Derfner. The
Post is probably the most pluralistic and balanced newspaper in
Israel, giving ample room for opining by writers from the Right, the
Left, the Center, by Arabs and non-Israelis, and by just about
everyone else.
Derfner's endorsement of the right to murder Jews was actually
published in a blog not connected with the newspaper, and it was his
response to the mass murder that was conducted by Palestinians and
some Egyptian collaborators in Israel's deep south near Eilat a few
weeks back. The column triggered a boisterous debate inside Israel
and outside it about the limits of journalistic license and freedom of
Derfner's comments can be seen as roughly similar to the infamous
comments by Ward Churchill after the 9-11 attack. Churchill had
justified the attacks and denounced the victims as "Little Eichmanns."
Derfner's celebratory justifications of mass murders of Jewish
civilians were not a prank. His comments appeared on a blog, from
which he has since removed them, and his original posting can be read
in full here. His posting began:
'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.'
He then went on:
'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.'
It goes without saying that Derfner failed to volunteer himself and
his own family as people who should be murdered by Palestinian
terrorism as resistance against Israeli occupation. It is also not
surprising that many an Israeli found Derfner's defense of some sort
of divine right to murder Jews as part of resistance against
"occupation" to be highly reminiscent of similar German claims and of
similar German allegations that their country was under Jewish
"occupation" and control.
Derfner's comments triggered a firestorm of rage. By his own
admission, hundreds of outraged subscribers to the Jerusalem Post
cancelled their subscriptions. Within days the editor of the
Jerusalem Post announced that the paper would no longer employ or
publish Derfner, because of the poor taste in his justification of
mass murder of Jews. Derfner issued a "clarification" and a sort of
apology, but fired he remained. He then took to the pages of the
small socialist newspaper in New York, the Forward, to try to spin his
advocacy of murder into something less offensive.
Very soon Derfner was not only being denounced for his advocacy of
murder, but leftists and anti-Semites within Israel and from all over
the world were defending him, endorsing his comments, and denouncing
the Jerusalem Post for canning him. Countless anti-Israel blogs
denounced the newspaper and its editor for supposedly engaging in
suppressing freedom of speech, calling them "fascists" and
"McCarthyists." Even a New York Times blogger took up the banner for
Derfner, a bit curious since the Times has not published Ward
Churchill nor bin Laden nor others who celebrate the 9-11 attacks on
New York.
Firing Derfner of course had nothing to do with freedom of speech. No
one is stopping Derfner from standing on the street corners of Zion
and advocating murder of Jews. Actually, open advocacy of murder is
against the law in Israel and is decidedly NOT regarded as protected
speech, but that law is never applied against Israeli leftists. So
Derfner obviously has nothing to fear in terms of prosecution.
Israel's Attorney General office is dominated by leftists who never
prosecute other leftists for engaging in violence or advocating it,
even when they openly advocate murder. Arabs who openly support
terrorist atrocities and call for mass murder of Jews are never
prosecuted and their statements are regarded as protected speech.
Rabbis and right-wingers who advocate things the prosecutors regard as
"racist" or "incitement" however have been arrested by the score. A
non-leftist who criticizes the illegal and treasonous political
behavior of a leftist extremist is regarded as having engaged in
There are some calls in Israel for the enforcement of the law against Derfner.
Ward Churchill's defamation of the victims of the 9-11 attacks might
be protected speech. But that does not grant Churchill any sort of
entitlement to publish his views in any mainstream newspaper, nor to
advocate them in front of any classroom or other forum. Freedom of
speech is not an automatic entitlement to newspaper space.

2. Jane Fonda's Biggest Regret:

3. Benny Morris, again

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