JERUSALEM: The English-language Jerusalem Post said on Tuesday it had terminated the employment of a columnist who wrote in a private blog that Palestinians “have the right to use terrorism” against Israelis.
The right-leaning daily announced on its front page that US-born writer Larry Derfner was being dismissed “due to a professional disagreement... connected to his personal blog.”
Derfner could not immediately be reached by AFP but in a post on his Israel Reconsidered blog entitled “I got fired by the Jerusalem Post today,” he wrote that the paper had received “hundreds of notices of cancellations” from subscribers after they read an earlier blog he had posted on Sunday August 21.
Entitled “The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror” the 1,000-word essay expressed Derfner's position that the Palestinians have the right to fight the Israeli occupation – even violently.
The post was not connected to his “Rattling the cage” column in the Post. “My intent was not to encourage terror but the opposite,” he wrote.
“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.”
In Sunday's post, for which he later apologised and has since removed from his blog, Derfner wrote: “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 defence of an unholy cause... 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.”
A day later, the Post ran a column entitled: “Justifying murder – an abomination” in which commentator Isi Leibler wrote that Derfner's comments “are so vile that they go beyond treason.”
But Derfner found an unlikely ally in right-wing analyst and commentator Barry Rubin who wrote that the correct response should have been to refute his arguments rather than dismiss him. “Larry Derfner should be debated, not fired,” he wrote in a post on an academic website.
“All too often nowadays the response to disagreement is to try to destroy people on the other side of the argument, to delegitimise them with name-calling and to silence them. That's not the way democratic debate is supposed to work.”
Rubin makes his own beliefs clear in the same post, where he maintains that only east Jerusalem and part of the southern West Bank city of Hebron are under Israeli occupation.
International law considers all territory seized by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War – the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem – to be illegally occupied, and jurists have said that even though Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, its continued control over its air and sea space, means it remains occupied.
One response to the firing of Derfner's expressed surprise at his fate. “Bizarre,” it read. “You're employed by a leading newspaper to 'rattle the cage' and when you do, they fire you?”