August 31: Firing a ‘Post’ columnist – the pros and cons

"Indeed, there's a need for a vocal, left-of-center opinion columnist in your paper, but that voice certainly does not belong to Derfner."

By JERUSALEM POST READERS
August 30, 2011 23:39
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letters. (photo credit: JP)

 
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Sir, – I have been a subscriber for 32 years. Certainly, for the past few years I was constantly annoyed and ready to discontinue, but I learned not to read Larry Derfner’s tirades.

So I, for one, admire your courage and am sure you will be able to give balanced opinions without Derfner’s column.

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JACKIE SCHWARTZ

Netanya

Sir, – So you fired Larry Derfner because of real or implied subscription cancellations? While I hold no brief for his opinions, I, for one, would not buy a subscription from a newspaper that is unable to stand up for an errant columnist.

Refute him, certainly, but fire him? And after an apology? Shame on you.

G. GERSHON GUBBIO



Jerusalem

Sir, – I have held back from publicly criticizing a former colleague because of my allegiance to the fundamental democratic tenet of “freedom of speech.”

But even this much-vaunted pillar of democracy has its limits, and Derfner has certainly exceeded them.

There are journals in Israel that might welcome a contributor with his leanings, but a respectable and honorable publication such as The Jerusalem Post should not be one of them.

SHIRLEY ZAUER

Jerusalem

The writer is a former employee of the Post.

Sir, – I was shocked to read that Larry Derfner has been fired. He was the reason my family and I read The Jerusalem Post. As long as he was writing we could feel confident that the paper truly stood for freedom of the press.

Just last month, your new editor, Steve Linde, wrote that the purpose of a newspaper was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. He mentioned Derfner and others by name to illustrate the point. And now you have thrown one of your best writers over the side because some people objected to something he wrote – and not even in this newspaper (and also after he offered a heartfelt written apology)! Apparently, your paper exists to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted.

SUZANNE ZAHARONI

Beverly Hills

Sir, – The Jerusalem Post was right to fire Larry Derfner. Perhaps what is most frustrating is that in his apology, he failed to grasp the essence of the criticism against his argument.

Indeed, there is a need for a vocal, left-of-center opinion columnist in your paper, but that voice certainly does not belong to Derfner.

YITZHAK BRONSTEIN

New York

Sir, – I was astonished to hear about Larry Derfner’s dismissal.

He is one of the greatest patriots of our country, a noble humanist, a person of courage, honesty and wisdom.

His text on Palestinian terror is an act of true love and care for every Israeli, and any misunderstanding of this is a sign of deep cognitive trouble.

His dismissal is an ugly step radiating hatred and a lack of any humanism. A Jerusalem Post without Derfner will be an impoverished and not-serious newspaper. Do not allow that!

ZECHARIA PLAVIN

Kiryat Ono

Sir, – During the many years I read Larry Derfner’s column, he almost never seemed concerned about the lives and safety of Jews. No matter how much land given up or efforts made by Israel, it was never enough.

This country needs at least one newspaper that cheerleads for us.

Thank you for a good beginning.

SONIA GOLDSMITH

Netanya

Sir, – It’s not nice to lose subscriptions, but do the values of freedom of thought and expression count for absolutely nothing? Larry Derfner made a comment on a non-related forum, which he later withdrew and apologized for. I don’t think he expressed himself well, but you must know that many people – Jews, even, both here and abroad – think along the basic lines of his intended point.

What’s left for the Post? More restaurant reviews by people who were “guests of the owners?” Now there’s a journalistic standard to uphold.

SASHA LEVY

Modi’in

Sir, – The Post was right to fire Larry Derfner, though not for the most apparent reason.

The function of a columnist is to open the field for spirited discussion.

Occasionally espousing unpopular stances is a necessary element.

Unfortunately, there was a startling shift in Derfner’s writings over the past year or so – from somewhat rational (though often mistaken) to ever more bitter and unproductive personal attacks. As a result, he foreclosed the possibility for rational consideration of important issues.

Editor in chief Steve Linde recently called on columnists to exhibit a higher level of reason and civility. Derfner’s columns failed to meet the paper’s standards.

It was for this, not the substance of his positions, that Derfner had to go.

EFRAIM A. COHEN

Zichron Ya’acov

Sir, – My students are impressed by the breadth of Israeli opinion, so the loss of Larry Derfner is troubling and embarrassing. He represents Israel by being a voice that is both critical and loving. He is clearly not a self-hating Jew, but someone who made aliya and committed himself and his family to the future of Israel.

His is a voice that needs to be heard. His is a voice that says so much about how Israel is different from all other nations.

JONATHAN DOBRER

Encino, California

The writer is a professor of comparative religion.

Sir, – I am a long-time reader who has often commented in response to articles. Permit me say, in no uncertain terms, that Larry Derfner’s termination is justified in every sense of the word.

Despite his palpably insincere apology, there’s no sane reason to publish and financially support an individual who repeatedly aids and abets those who would butcher each and every Jew in the country.

Bravo for your courage and clarity!

MICHAEL DISEND

San Francisco

Sir, – So far as I can tell, Larry Derfner committed two crimes.

First, he was wholly unoriginal and peddled the same silly, pseudo-Marxist casual theory of murderous violence we have seen for so long: Palestinians murder Jews because they have no state.

But what is both absurd and – much worse – disgusting and saddening is to find that for uttering this thought, Derfner was fired.

RORY SCHACTER

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Sir, – That’s it? Someone writes an abominably scurrilous posting that justifies the terrorist slaughter of innocent men, women and children – and has the monumental audacity to claim to be patriotic about it – and all you do is place a tiny note in the paper saying he is no longer there due to “a professional disagreement?” No wonder he was kept in a cage that needed rattling.

MARCHAL KAPLAN

Jerusalem

Sir, – Larry Derfner was often wrong in my view, but always worth reading. If we are not exposed to a wide range of ideas and opinions through your paper, where in Israel do you expect the English-reading public to encounter them? Why not accept his apology and reinstate him?

J. LAKE

Beersheba

Sir, – Thank you for terminating Larry Derfner. His columns were an insult to all of us who take pride in living in Israel and work hard to make it a better place.

JUDY LEV

Ra’anana

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