« Abbas Rejects Recognizing Israel as the Jewish State | Main | Israel and Jerusalem in International Law: The Importance of San Remo »

August 29, 2011

Larry Derfner Will Not Be Rattling The Cage Anymore at the Jerusalem Post


Larry Derfner's regular column in the Jerusalem Post , entitled "Rattling the Cage", was meant to provoke readers. (While we notified the Jerusalem Post in the past about some of his factually incorrect material, CAMERA generally did not bother to monitor Derfner's over-the-top column.) But after the recent multiple terror attacks against Israeli civilians near Eilat, Derfner went even further in trying to provoke controversy: He essentially justified Palestinian terrorism in a blog post entitled "The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror". The post appeared on his personal blog (not in his JPost column) and while he did not express outright support for terrorism, and even stated that he does not "want the Palestinians to use" such tactics, Derfner outraged readers by blaming Israel for Palestinian terror and by stating that Palestinians have a right to use violence and even to kill Israelis. (The post has since been removed but is reprinted below.*)

Faced with readers' fury and suggestions that criminal charges of incitement be brought against him, Derfner withdrew the blog post and published a half-hearted apology (see below**).

But this time Derfner had evidently gone too far, and his apology was deemed insufficient. After receiving hundreds of notices of cancellations of subscriptions to the Jerusalem Post as a result of the columnist's blog post, Derfner was fired.

Here is the ex-columnist's own announcement of his firing, posted today on his blog, replete with self-justifying claims that his meaning was distorted.

Read his post and apology below and see what you think...

*Derfner's controversial post on his blog:

The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror

Posted on August 21, 2011 by Larry Derfner

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.

When we say that the occupation is a terrible injustice to the Palestinians, but then say that Palestinian terror/resistance is a terrible injustice to Israel, we’re saying something that’s patently illogical to anyone but a pacifist, and there aren’t many pacifists left, certainly not in Israel. The logical, non-pacifist mind concludes that both of those statements can’t be true – that if A is hurting B and won’t stop, then B damn sure has the right to hurt A to try to make him stop. But if everybody, not only the Right but the Left, too, is saying that B, the Palestinians, don’t have the right to hurt A, the Israelis, then the logical mind concludes that Israel must not be hurting the Palestinians after all, the occupation must not be so bad, the occupation must not be hurting the Palestinians at all - because if it was, they would have the right to hurt us back, and everybody agrees that they don’t. So when they shoot at us or fire rockets at us, it’s completely unprovoked, which gives us the right, the duty, to bash them and bash them until they stop – and anybody who tries to deny us that right doesn’t have a leg to stand on, so we’re just going to keep right on bashing them. And when the Palestinians complain about the occupation, we Israelis can honestly say we don’t know what they’re talking about.

This, I’m convinced, is how the Left’s ritual condemnations of terror are translated in the Israeli public’s mind – as justification for the occupation and an iron-fist military policy.

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. And that’s not easy for a nation that sanctifies the right to self-defense; a nation that elected Irgun leader Menachem Begin and Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir as prime minister.

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. (I also think Palestinian terrorism backfires, it turns people away from them and generates sympathy for Israel and the occupation, so I’m against terrorism on a practical level, too, but that’s besides the point.) The possibility that Israel’s enemies could use my or anybody else’s justification of terror for their campaign is a daunting one; I wouldn’t like to see this column quoted on a pro-Hamas website, and I realize it could happen.

Still, I don’t think Hamas and their allies need any more encouragement, so whatever encouragement they might take from me or any other liberal Zionist is coals to Newcastle. What’s needed very badly, however, is for Israelis to realize that the occupation is hurting the Palestinians terribly, that it’s driving them to try to kill us, that we are compelling them to engage in terrorism, that the blood of Israeli victims is ultimately on our hands, and that it’s up to us to stop provoking our own people’s murder by ending the occupation. And 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 defense of an unholy cause.

And by tacitly encouraging Israelis in their blindness, I think we endanger their lives and ours, their country and ours, much more than if we told the truth and got quoted on Hamas websites.

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. And just like every harsh, unjust government in history bears the blame for the deaths of its own people at the hands of rebels, so Israel, which rules the Palestinians harshly and unjustly, is to blame for those eight Israeli deaths – as well as for every other Israeli death that occurred when this country was offering the Palestinians no other way to freedom.

Writing this is not treason. It is an attempt at patriotism.

**Derfner's apology:


Posted on August 26, 2011 by Larry Derfner

I have an apology to make for “The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror,? which I posted here and on Facebook on Sunday. I didn’t mean to say anything “good? about Palestinian terror against Israelis – I see nothing good in it whatsoever, and I thought I made that clear, but I see now that I didn’t.

I wrote that because of the occupation, Palestinians are “justified? in attacking, even killing Israelis, that they have the “right? to do so. Later on I stressed that I didn’t want them to kill my countrymen, and that I would do anything necessary to stop it. I meant those two points to show that I wasn’t “for? terrorism, that while I thought the occupation justified it, that didn’t mean I supported it. But I see now that the distance from “justified? to “support? is way, way too short – and I am as far away as anybody can be from supporting attacks on Israel and Israelis.

Writing that the killing of Israelis was justified and a matter of right took a vile image and attached words of seeming approval to it. This, I’m afraid, produced an “obscene? effect, as one critic wrote. I don’t want to write obscenity about Israel. I didn’t mean to, and I deeply regret it.

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. This is something I believe, something liberal Israelis and friends of Israel believe, and I wrote that if we were to start saying so publicly, it might force other Israelis to finally confront the reality of what we’re doing to the Palestinians, and thereby get them to see that it’s wrong and must stop.

My intention was to shock people into recognition, but I ended up shocking many of them into revulsion, and twisting what I wanted to say into something I didn’t and don’t mean at all.

What I mean is this: The occupation does not justify Palestinian terror. It does, however, provoke it. Palestinians do not have the right to attack or kill Israelis. They, do, however, have the incentive to, and part, though not all, of that incentive is provided them by the occupation. I believe that if Israel gives the Palestinians their independence, we have enough military power to neutralize whatever leftover incentive they would have to attack us. So my purpose with regard to Palestinian terror against Israelis is not to legitimize it, God forbid, but to end it.

Again, I regret what I wrote on Sunday. I apologize to everyone who was offended by it, and I apologize to my countrymen. The post is no longer on my blog; I’ve taken it down.p>

Posted by RH at August 29, 2011 04:28 PM


When one, from the U.S., reads articles such as these one sees the truly same behaviors and attitudes that the progressive, liberal left maintains as they go about doing the very best that they can to destroy their homeland and decimate any significant parcel of common decency left in the human individual. The U.S. and Israel share much more in common than the ordinary person would realize. So it requires consistent reading for some time before we can get a real outlook on the situation. I pray that Netanyahu can stay the course and reject the Palestinian bogus claims on the West Bank and Golan Heights. I also would like to see the Israelis take back all of the Gaza Strip. After all, God gave them this it belongs to them!

Posted by: Harvey at August 30, 2011 10:05 AM

First off, which occupation is he talking about? Israel is not occupying anyone.
And secondly you should take a look at the people who responded positively to his rantings. Some of the comments were as bad if not worse than what he wrote. I couldnt believe that some of them claimed to be Israelis in Israel and still have so much hate for thier homeland and thier own people. Are these people really so obsessed with hating Israel that they think things will get better by giving up and letting the arabs have what they want? Incredible, no more words for it.

Posted by: Alan at August 30, 2011 10:46 AM

The Palestinians should look at their history: How many times did Israel offer them a country, it was rejected every time. They know that we know that they know that it is not an indpependent state they want but the elimination of a Jewish state. World opinion is adding fuel to the fire, goading them on. Larry Derfner was one voice that approved everything about the Palestinians and criticized everything about his own country and people. This adds fuel to the fire of the many self-hating Jews who live in Israel and cannot see the difference between territorial dispute and raw hatred expressed (for no matter what reason) in violence. I for one will not miss Lary Derfner's column

Posted by: Dolly Chinitz at August 30, 2011 01:29 PM

It took this long to see through Larry Derfner?
I nver wanted to buy a subscription to the JPOST, but now I won't even buy it at the newstand.

Posted by: Harry Greenblatt at August 30, 2011 02:04 PM

A new form of "ghetto mentality" -
which causes the Stockholm Syndrome to click in.

Perhaps someone will write the book "A Kapo in Al Kuds."

Posted by: mattis kantor at August 30, 2011 02:17 PM

Judging from the self loathing comments about Israel coming from Israelis, Israel has the same problem the US has.
Stockholm Syndrome is more widespread and deeply engrained than most realize.

Posted by: So Cal Mike at August 30, 2011 02:35 PM

Larry Derfner proves once again, the alliance between the Arabs and the left is the
Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of our time.

Posted by: Dan Kelso at August 30, 2011 02:37 PM

Derfner and others who support his stance conveniently forget that terrorism against the Jews did not begin with the bogus "occupation", it began over 100 years ago long before there were bogus Arab "Palestinians". In the years 1948 to 1967 when the Arabs occupied the whole of Judea, Samaria and half of Jerusalem, why didn't they establish a "Palestinian State". What was the justification for terrorism then? Answer this question and it may lead you to the truth.

Posted by: Ford at August 30, 2011 02:39 PM

Barak and Olmert offered the Palestinians a state, something no Arab or Islamic country ever did.
Israel offered the Palestinians a state, even though there was never in history any state called Palestine governed by Palestinians as Alan mentioned above.
I have 2 words for Larry Derfner.
Palestinian Rejectionism.
The Palestinians refused to end the conflict as long as it meant that they would have to accept the legitimacy of Israel as a sovereign, permanent country and neighbor. Only when the Palestinians extremist/rejectionist/supremacist attitude changes will peace really be possible.
All you have to do in go on Camera or Palmediawatch to see the genocidal hatred in the Palestinian media to anihilate all the Jews in Israel and to deny all Jewish history in Israel.
And these are the Arabs the left in Israel support?
How dumb can you be.

Posted by: Ed Frias at August 30, 2011 02:42 PM

The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege: Kenneth Levin: From Publishers Weekly:
While the subject of this study is specific—"the delusional thinking that underlay Israel's attempt to achieve peace with its neighbors through the so-called Oslo process"—the author's interests and conclusions are wide-ranging. Levin, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a commentator on Israeli politics, attempts to analyze why many Israeli Jews chose to believe in the peace negotiations of the early 1990s, even when Yasser Arafat was refusing calls to publicly renounce terrorism. Levin analyzes this through both historical and psychoanalytic lenses, mapping out how people who have lived under siege are likely to internalize the hatred they encounter and become "delusional" about their own self-interest.

Posted by: Ford at August 30, 2011 03:58 PM

I wonder how many Palestinians who are now so much better off under Israeli'occupation'really want to be governed by another failed and corrupt Arab government such as Egypt Yemen and Libya were and will continue after the Arab Spring under a new lot of dictators.

Posted by: Jack Baretti at August 31, 2011 01:22 AM

In his apology Larry Derfner writes that the occupation provokes Palestinian terror. And the short sleeves caused the rape? This way of "reasoning" denies any possibility for personal responsibility.

We are all innocent because we have no Free Will - our behavior is "brought about" by external circumstances? It's refreshing to see that the Post and so many of its readers reject this modern fallacy. It was right to set him free.

Posted by: MM van Zuiden at August 31, 2011 10:17 AM

The left comes face to face with consequences for their actions. Did they think they could continue the anti Israel incitement forever without them having to deal the consequences of their words.

Posted by: Lou Adams at August 31, 2011 11:57 AM

Its great the Jerusalem Post got rid of Larry Derfner. But they still have radicals like Alon Liel writing on there. Liel is a big time appeaser of Assad and wants to give up the Jewish Golan and always takes the PA position on every issue. Assad could rest assured Israeli Lefties would do everything in their power to save him,
as they had done with Arafat.

Liel is a big supporter of the Land for terror camps theme.

Posted by: Naomi Janoson at August 31, 2011 01:31 PM

Derfner may not have chosen his words carefully but he has guts to say it how it really is.We are guilty by omission and commission of blind belief that we have biblicalrights beyond those of other human beings.Where is our lateral thinking where is our creativity?Why have we not come up with something to deflect the Palestinians declaration of a State? . Soon there will be no one in the hospitals to treat us.Where"s BIBI hiding?What kind of a leader does not address his people in crisis?` I am cancelling my subscription, as I see that the JP is not capable of presenting a true picture of what is happening to our society because of the lacklustre of our leadership. or of why the people are on the streets.Firing Derfner is silencing one more voice of protest.

Posted by: zelda harris at August 31, 2011 04:22 PM

Earth to Zelda Harris, do you believe your lies?
Israel had 2 left wing goverments offer the Pals a state, Barak and Olmert.
Anyone with half a brain can realize the problem is the Palestinians want 2 Palestinian states.
Their own state that is Jew free as Abbas said and to flood Israel with millions of Arabs into Israel for the 2nd Pal state.
Barry Rubin wrote a great article in detail which documents this. I advise you to read this.

Posted by: Dan Kelso at September 1, 2011 08:58 AM

Zelda Harris, like Germans, the Palestinians are indoctrinated with notion that Jews are not human and Islam will destroy them.
Since 2001, there were more than 150 homicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians and another 500 which were stopped by Israeli troops.
The result was 1557 murder victims and 17,000 maimed Israelis for life.
No less than 84% of the Palestinians supported the Mercaz Harav yeshiva massacre in 08 in Jerusalem.
The Arabs slaughter Israeli civilians on buses, shopping centers, disco’s, pizzeria’s, hotels, holocaust survivors celebrating Passover.
Jews are commonly referred to as sons and daughters of pigs and apes.
Streets in Gaza and Ramallah are named after homicide bombers who tear life from the defenseless Jews to implement the Arabs murderous plans.
Only the Palestinians could celebrate the murder of the Fogel family and the decapitation of a 3 month old baby.
The PA continues to teach on its TV shows that Israeli cities across the entire country, including Yafo (Jaffa) and Haifa, are Palestinian cities. The PA a few weeks ago had a TV show that said the Western Wall area will be turned into Arab housing neighborhood and the Jewish presence in Jerusalem will be erased from history.

Official PA media refer to Israel as the “Palestinian Interior? and “the homeland occupied in ’48.? Maps used by the PA still erase and replace Israel with “Palestine.?

The Arabs continually initiate the violence.
The Israelis have not fired the first shots.
Do the Palestinians expect not to be fired back on? Its ok for them to blow up school children and civilians intentionally? Someone please explain to me how the Israelis could possibly live next to such a violent people. I personally don't see how it can be done at this point.
All I see is the Palestinians provoking war and using any method they can to get all of Israel.

Posted by: Dan Kelso at September 1, 2011 09:05 AM

Derfner should go. He means well, I'm sure of it, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. His basic premises are flawed and sometimes just lies.
(a) there is no occupation of Gaza ór Egypt, so why would the latest terror attack emmanate from there?
(b) this genocidal violence against civilians predated the 'occupation' by decades. So how does ending the 'occupation' stop it. Point a is a good example of how it doesn't.
(c) there is never a justification of violence against innocent civilians. Any attack upon a military 'occupation infrastructure' would be completely in line with freedom movements in the past, but this is not how the palestinians fight. They maim, kill, butcher babies to the elderly. They kill to kill. And they do not regret civilian deaths, they openly celebrate it. The perversity of palestinian 'resistance' should be something every freedom-lover should detest; not justify.
Derfer has long overplayed his hands and the facts. Now that he has gone to far, I'm happy to see him go. Provoke what you must. Be against israeli control of plots of land in the middle east. But don't lie, don't distort, and never justify the intentional killing of the innocent.

Posted by: Ron at September 6, 2011 04:41 AM

"this genocidal violence against civilians predated the 'occupation' by decades. So how does ending the 'occupation' stop it."

Yeah I bet they're completely unrelated. It could be about something completely different.

Posted by: Geoff at September 7, 2011 08:59 AM

Guidelines for posting

This is a moderated blog. We will not post comments that include racism, bigotry, threats, or factually inaccurate material.

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)