I took a chance Thursday last week in posting, the first, I think, here at the Jerusalem Post, a blog condemning Larry Derfner, although I did not specifically name him which is the best I could do out of courtesy in that most news papers do not permit intra-fighting on their pages. He is now a past employee of the Jerusalem Post.
Many have argued the merits of his dismissal. The main point, though, is that Derfner himself presents a problematic thesis and to quote him, again:
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.
This wasn’t the first time Derfner engaged the moral, political and utilitarian issues of the use of terror in Zionist history. He was on the path of terror justification for a while. In this article, published on July 28, 2010 he wrote:
It seems to me that if you are going to condemn the Munich Olympics killings and the Coastal Road Massacre, you also have to condemn the King David Hotel bombing and the Bernadotte assassination. By the same token, if you justify or even “understand” Begin’s and Shamir’s violence, you also have to justify or at least understand the violence of Muhammad Oudeh and Dalal Mughrabi. And if you don’t – if violence in the name of your nation’s freedom is what you call heroism, but violence in the name of the enemy nation’s freedom is what you call terrorism – then you have no principles at all. Then the only thing you stand for in this world is the side you happen to have been born on.
For Derfner, what truly irked him was that there was deep within the Zionist soul a
hypocrisy that characterizes Israel’s view of Palestinians [and]… the height of it: The greatest denouncers of Palestinian violence against Israel also tend to be the greatest defenders of pre-state Zionist violence against Britain.
Derfner was upbraided by the head of the Begin Heritage Center, Herzl Makov, who, in his published letter, wrote:
…Derfner proposes an equivalency standard: Their violence today is the same as Jewish violence then…Whereas in the war for liberation against the British Mandatory regime both the Irgun and Lehi avoided civilian casualties to the fullest extent possible, Arab terror – as it does today – exclusively targeted civilians. Whereas the British refused to negotiate, Israel has been negotiating for the past 43 years, to no avail. Whereas Begin, as Irgun commander, always had his fighters warn the British about upcoming actions, the Arabs never do. As these and other elements make clear, there is no comparison. One more point: The Hagana as well as the Palmach also engaged in violence similar to that of the Irgun and Lehi. The loss of lives in such actions was regrettable, but in the war for the establishment of Israel and its liberation from the Mandatory regime, exceptions to the rule occurred. Derfner, however, avoids any mention of this violence perpetrated by the Zionist Left. Was that a personal prejudice?
Two other letter writers made points. Efraim Cohen, a fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, pointed out that
Unfortunately, he totally ignores a critical point: Not all violence is terrorism…Attacks on legitimate military targets are not terrorism, even if they result in unintended civilian casualties…By asserting that one must condemn all violence equally or else “you have no principles at all,” Derfner strips the term “terrorism” of all meaning and consequence.
Jacob Chinitz added
If you want, you can claim that Samson, in pulling down the Philistine temple, was a suicide terrorist. Would Derfner not give him the right to avenge his blinding and humiliation?
In response, Derfner avoided the issues and twisted history, writing
As I wrote, the Etzel planted bombs in Arab markets and other public places, killing scores of civilians. It gave no warnings. Also, as everyone knows, Arab terrorists strike at both military and civilian targets.
He purposefully mixed up two periods of time and two different cases of violence usage as well as, well, yes, justifying Arab terror by claiming they strike at civilian targets when they exclusively attack civilians for that is what terror is.
Derfner, however, now does what all extreme radical leftwingers do – they turn to assistance from abroad. Our local NGOs receive funds from the EU and others and Derfner mobilizes, or his friends did, the very hesitant-about-supporting-Israel Robert Mackay of the New York Times. In his The Lede column today, Mackey includes some untruths. Derfner’s private blog is not shared “with another Israeli journalist” but with Richard Silverstein, considered one of the most vicious and perverted anti-Zionist blogs by a Jew on the Internet although others occasionally publish there. His defense of Amir Mahloul last year was completely unethical. And here at the JPost, many extreme leftists blog, including an Arab propagandist. As for repeating Derfner’s claim that he was fired “even after he had published a lengthy apology on his personal Web site”, and I am not sure that apology did precede the firing, anyone who read Derfner’s responses to the glowing comments left by dozens, if not hundreds of supporters, knows that apology was vacuous.
Mackey notes that “in an e-mail to The Lede on Tuesday, Mr. Derfner reflected: I knew that what I was writing was shocking, I wanted it to be shocking — that was my whole point, I thought that shocking the Israeli public, not by my little blog alone, but as a strategy for the Left — might shake people out of their paralysis. It was sort of a reckless, blind conviction — now I see that that’s one of the dangers, if not THE danger of a personal blog: no editor."
To be generous, one could excuse Derfner’s rantings because of his poor writing ability but then, you would have to ask if he is actually qualified to be a journalist or is he a hack activist in disguise and recall his antics at Ben-Gurion Airport when the flytilla people came in and he got himself detained:
I was there ostensibly as a journalist, and I was scribbling notes, but I felt cowardly not saying anything to these nationalist hooligans, so I started telling them in Hebrew, “What are these people doing?” The woman who wanted them thrown in the garbage said, “They’re hurting us!” I said, “They’re talking,” and the little mob turned on me, a couple of the men raised their fists. The woman told me, “Go back home, get out of here,” I said, “I live here.” The cops mistook me for a demonstrator, put me in the police van, but when I showed them my press card, they let me go.
Mackey, of course, goes on about the Irgun and Lechi, now that Derfner allowed him so bashing. He also quotes another progressive, Dimi Reider, but no right-of center blogger, other than to note Isi Liebler’s op-ed.
The doves have come to roost.P.S. Seems Silverstein and Derfner had parted company. Anyone can confirm?