Jerusalem Post Columnist Calls Eilat Terror “Justified”
Calling his comments “an attempt at patriotism,” Jerusalem Post columnist and well known political commentator Larry Derfner endorsed the use of violence against Israeli citizens this week in an article posted on the self-described left-wing Zionist blog “Israel Reconsidered.”
Derfner, well known as a staunch advocate for a two-state solution, posted a link to his article on Facebook on Monday, drawing praise from friends for his contention that “Palestinians have the right to resist [the occupation] – to use violence against Israelis, even to kill Israelis.” This is especially the case, Derfner wrote, since “Israel is showing zero willingness to end the occupation, which has been the case since the Netanyahu government took over.”
According to the columnist, Israelis, many of whom he regards as secretly agreeing with him, do not want to come out and say this, however, for “fear of being called a traitor.” However, he asserted, “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.”
Continuing to explain his thesis, Derfner argued that since the continuing Israeli presence in the territories validates Palestinian terrorism, “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?” he asked. “A powerful one, I think, because the truth is powerful.”
Stopping short of actively calling for terrorism, however, the columnist -a Los Angeles native who immigrated to Israel in 1985- asserted that while he “think[s] 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.”
“As an Israeli,” he explained, “I would do whatever was necessary to stop a Palestinian, oppressed or not, from killing one of my countrymen.”
“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,” Derfner quipped.
He also stated that he is opposed to “encouraging Israelis in their blindness” that prevents them from seeing that they are “compelling [the Palestinians] to engage in terrorism.” Such encouragement, he explained, “endanger[s] their lives and ours, their country and ours, much more than if we told the truth and got quoted on Hamas websites.”
Concluding with a brief discussion of last week’s triple-terror attack in Eilat, Derfner said that “Whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile their ideology was, they were justified to attack.”
The government of Israel, which he termed “harsh” and “unjust,” is “to blame for those eight Israeli deaths.”
“Writing this is not treason. It is an attempt at patriotism,” Derfner explained.
Responding to comments on Facebook, Derfner summed up his thesis by saying that “the occupation makes Palestinian terror justified and inevitable.” After all, he asked, “if non-violence doesn’t convince Israel to end the occupation, what are [the Palestinians] supposed to do?”
Pundits suspects that these comments, coming as they do on the heels of a national tragedy that almost led Israel to war, are likely to create a stir.
The comments are a far cry from his comments in March, following the murder of the Fogel Family in the West Bank town of Itamar.
At the time, Derfner wrote that “Until Palestinians acknowledge the savage streak in their society – even if only to themselves – and resolve to root it out, then, if history is a guide, there will be more abominations done in their name. And it’s completely legitimate to expect Palestinians to understand this – even before they have their own state.”
A senior Jerusalem Post source has stated that the newspaper is looking into the matter.
While the Israeli Ministry of Justice has not issued an official statement in response to inquiries, it is possible that Derfner may have violated Israeli legal statutes prohibiting incitement. In response, several concerned citizens have expressed interest in filing complaints with the police and Attorney General’s office, the Algemeiner Journal has learned.