Monday, August 29, 2011

Justifying murder – an abomination

Isi Leibler

Since the Middle Ages, and even before, we have encountered marginal Jews who turned against their own people. Among apostates to Christianity there were those who wrote inflammatory libels against the Jewish people, paving the way for pogroms; socialists like Karl Marx whose vile anti-Semitic tirades speak for themselves; and more recently, Jewish communists purportedly supporting a new world order who applauded Stalin while he was murdering, imprisoning and persecuting their fellow Jews.

Today, both in Israel and abroad, there are Jews who retain the wretched tradition of these renegade predecessors and identify with those who seek to destroy their people. They are few in number, but their influence extends beyond their Jewish fringe status because many occupy prominent roles in universities, the media and the arts. Of late, much of the Western liberal media has been promoting and idolizing them. . A few days ago, I was alerted to an unprecedented and obscene extension of such behavior, emanating, to my profound regret, from Larry Derfner, a senior professional staff writer for the Jerusalem Post. Only days after Israeli infants and families were brutally murdered by terrorists near Eilat, Derfner publicly stated that the murder of Israeli citizens was a justifiable weapon for Palestinians to employ in order to overcome the “occupation."

These remarks were not published as a Jerusalem Post column but rather were posted on his public website, to which readers of his regular articles are occasionally referred. They also appeared on Facebook.

A good newspaper opens its columns to opposing views. The Jerusalem Post, along with Israel’s most widely circulated Hebrew daily, Israel Hayom, irrespective of editorial positions, always offers its readers a wide spectrum of political opinions. I take pride in the fact that I contribute regular columns to both newspapers and my column is frequently accompanied by diametrically opposing views.

That, of course, does not imply that a self-respecting Israeli newspaper would accept contributions from a neo-Nazi, an anti-Semitic jihadist or a person justifying the murder of Israelis.

Whereas Derfner is regarded as an in-house leftist opinion writer for the Jerusalem Post, his chilling outburst extends way beyond traditional far-Left efforts to apply moral equivalence between Israelis and terrorists. In fact, Derfner actually scolds those on the Left who condemn Palestinian terrorism.

To avoid any misunderstanding, let me be specific about what Derfner actually said. He asserted that in fighting for their “independence” Palestinian terrorists are “justified” in targeting and deliberately murdering innocent Israeli women and children. He even explicitly said that “whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile the ideology was, they were justified to attack” and it was the Israeli government that was “to blame for those eight Israeli deaths.” He opined that it was high time for Israelis to appreciate “that terrorism in the face of a rejectionist Israeli government is justified … even to kill Israelis.”

He stated that while he endorsed the right of Palestinians “to use terrorism against us,” he did not wish to see Israelis killed and like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he felt that terrorism (while justifiable) can be counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. However Israeli “blindness” was “compelling the Palestinians to engage in terrorism” and by exposing the “unjust” Israeli government as being “to blame for these Israeli deaths,” it would contribute to “ending the occupation.”

Derfner conceded that such remarks would encourage Hamas, but was not unduly concerned because Hamas was already committed to Israel’s destruction. It was more important for him to ensure that Israelis recognized that by their behavior, “they are compelling Palestinians to engage in terrorism,” rather than worrying about whether his remarks would be quoted approvingly on Hamas websites. In fact, the Arab media has already widely reproduced his remarks, highlighting the fact that he is a prominent Jerusalem Post contributor.

Derfner concluded his shocking remarks with the extraordinary statement, “Writing this is not treason. It is patriotism.” That a person justifying the murder of innocent women and children in his own country can describe himself as a “patriot” makes one question his sanity.

In a twisted sense, Derfner is probably right in that his remarks are not treasonous. Although there may very well be grounds for the attorney-general to charge him with incitement to murder, his remarks are so vile that they go beyond treason. They display an utter lack of sensitivity, humanity or compassion for the tens of thousands of Israeli families who, since the creation of Israel, have lost loved ones, murdered by the barbarians whose actions Derfner justifies as being due to “harsh” Israeli government policies.

If an anti-Israeli Western politician or media outlet published such remarks it would create a storm. For a purportedly respectable Israeli journalist to do so is simply incomprehensible.

This is not the place to refute Derfner’s ridiculous remarks about the “occupation.” Nor to relate the offers of 95 percent of the territories, extended to the Palestinians by prime ministers Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2008, which were summarily rejected by Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. Nor is it the place to remind the reader that the principal objective of all Palestinian factions is to end Jewish sovereignty in the region rather than attain independence. And that, since Benjamin Netanyahu assumed office, the Palestinians, no less than Hamas, refused to partake in negotiations even after Netanyahu’s unprecedented 10-month settlement freeze.

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.

No comments: