Aug 25, 2011

Larry Derfner Defends Palestinians Right To Kill Israelis

JPost columnist Larry Derfner, in a personal blog post, has called for Israelis to recognize the right of Palestinians to kill Israelis and defended the Eilat terror attack as justified.

Derfner writes:
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 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.
I would recommend that, if this disturbs you, you email Derfner ( to complain about his vile support for Palestinians killing Israelis. As well, you should also email the JPost ( to complain, requesting that he be fired immediately.

This week's edition of AMI Magazine has a piece by journalist Samuel Sokol on the topic. Sokol writes:
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 Derfner, 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?"

These shocking comments, coming as they do on the heels of a national tragedy that almost led Israel to war, will certainly create a stir.

They are certainly 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."

As of press time, Ami has received no reply to requests for comment from the Israeli Ministry of Justice regarding the possibility of Derfner's statements constituting incitement to violence, a criminal offense under Israeli law.
It is reprehensible that he should defend the right of Palestinians to kill Israelis. The Jerusalem Post should be ashamed to have someone like him on their payroll. I am all for free speech, and I am all for presenting varying viewpoints in a newspaper (though, again, this was not written in the JPost newspaper but on his own personal website), but Derfner has crossed a line.


  1. He has indeed! He should be fired from JPost immediately

  2. I wonder what might be the reaction were someone to declaere that one had a *right* and would be justified in, killing Larry Derfner. Just theoretically, of course.

  3. Anyone can talk the talk. I think Derfner should walk into downtown Ramallah and walk the walk by volunteering!

  4. Derfner has crossed the lines of sanity as well. That will preclude sending him an e-mail. No sense in wasting perfect bytes of data on that dreck.

  5. I just sent Larry this email:

    Hi Larry

    I noticed your comments in the JP about the right of Palestinians to kill Israelis.  I have no doubt that you will not be jailed for them in the democratic Jewish state. Of course any Palestinians making similar comments in reverse would probably be shot by firing squad in the Palestinian Authority that you yourself support. But such are the ironies of life.

    I wonder if you, using the same ironclad logic, supported the Irgun and Lechi's right to kill British civilians in Palestine. Or is it perhaps only Goyim that are allowed to kill Jews and not visa versa? You refer to the Palestinians living under occupation. Do you also support the right of American Indians and Australian Aborigines to massacre little children in Long Island or Sydney?  If not, why not?

    Larry, I have sent all my children to study in Israeli yeshivot. Do you also support the right of Arabs to kill them as they walk the streets of "occupied" Jerusalem?   


  6. defence minister e barak said about the same thing a few years ago...

  7. I'm glad that you posted on this.

    I think it was very important to get this information out.

  8. This is what I posted as a comment to Defner's blog posting:

    Do you see now, Larry, how flawed your reasoning is?

    I doubt that you do, because you wrote the above morally repugnant article, which seems to indicate that you have totally lost your moral compass (which some of your articles in the Jerusalem Post indicated that you might have had in the past).

    Nonetheless, I will mention a few points which show the inherent lack of moral justice in your thesis that Palestinians have the right to use violence against, and even to kill, Israelis.

    First of all, as "haithemz" mentioned in a comment to your blog post, the basic Palestinian line is not that the occupation is wrong, but that having a Jewish state is wrong, and that they are battling to destroy the Jewish state, not to "end the occupation", except as one stage in the plan to destroy the Jewish state. While there are Palestinian moderates who do not support this outlook, there are very few who are willing to state this publicly (maybe because it would be dangerous to proclaim this in Arab society), and the clear majority of the Palestinian leadership (even including Muhammad Abbas in many instances when he just can't get himself to admit that the Jewish state has a right to exist) has made it clear, in one way or another, that they are attempting to destroy the Jewish state. Despite your claim, in a comment to your blog post, that "Everybody knows Israel’s strength, except Israelis", there is no convincing evidence to back up your claim that "If Israel ends the occupation and signs a treaty with some official Palestinian entity international backing for the agreement will be such that the Palestinians will accept it". You even admit, in that blog comment, that "The Palestinians wanted to get back the land they lost in 48, that’s why they fought", so how can you miss the clear evidence that their leadership is still fighting to "get back the land they lost in 48", not just the land that they lost in 1967. Your claim that "the Six Day War taught all Arabs the lesson that Israel cannot be dislodged from its sovereign territory" seems to refer to a lesson that the Arabs never learned, though we all wish it were otherwise. You cannot justify immoral, murderous behavior by your wishful thinking; or if you do, then you place yourself among those who prefer hallucination to reality!

    (continued in next comment)

  9. Continuation of the comment I posted in response to Derfner's blog post:

    So your underlying premise is simply false. Palestinian terror is not provoked by "the occupation" caused by the Arabs' attempt to kill the Jews and destroy the Jewish state in 1967 which caused the Six Day War; their terror is provoked by the existence of a Jewish state. So what would you propose as a solution, that we dissolve the Jewish state and all leave the Middle East (as Helen Thomas has suggested)? That is certainly the only solution acceptable to the Arab leadership, even today, after so many Israeli concessions and attempts to make peace (including by Netanyahu, whose attempts to make peace with all of the Arabs, including the Palestinians, you seem to have declared null and void)!

    A second point is that with all of the difficulties of living under Israeli occupation, most Palestinians are reputed to prefer that to living under the rule of Arab leaders (at least that is what almost all of the polls seem to indicate). So, even though I oppose injustices done to Arabs because of the occupation, and I also wish that we would not have to occupy areas with these people in them for our own self-preservation, it appears that "the occupation must not be so bad" (which you mentioned in your article as being the wrong way to look at things, but appears to be the correct way to look at things). By the way, saying that "the occupation must not be so bad" is not the same as saying that "the occupation must not be hurting the Palestinians at all", as you seem to equate them! It is just that, in our imperfect world, since we often must choose the lesser of two evils; even though the Palestinians suffer under the occupation, they (unlike you) seem to understand that it is "not so bad" compared to living in any Arab country!

    These two points already undermine the basis for the immoral declaration that "Palestinians have the right to use violence against, and even to kill, Israelis", but I wish to remind us all of a third point: that the Jews never used terror to attempt to destroy another nation. Whether Begin and Shamir were right or wrong in their use of terror to fight against those forces trying to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state, they were never attempting to destroy another nation. This moral justification is sorely lacking in the Arab "struggle for freedom against the Zionist state".

    So, Larry, I suggest that you try to find your conscience; it must be out there somewhere! If you fail at that, I hear that Jiminy Cricket is available now that Pinocchio no longer needs him.

  10. I dont have a problem with him being a leftist. he could say any one of many legitimate leftist claims (debatable as they might be), such as talk about their right to sef-determination, self-rule, a state, return of occupied lands, etc.

    But to support their right to kill us is beyond the pale.

  11. The email for the editor in chief at the Jpost, Steve Linde, I sent the following email to him and cc'd Derfner:

    Dear Mr. Linde,

    I have been a subscriber to the Jerusalem Post since I made Aliyah 7 years ago. I think it’s a terrific paper that really provides for the needs of Anglo Olim. I especially appreciate your middle of the road editorial philosophy and I find that I agree with your editorials a vast majority of the time.

    I understand that the function of the Op-Ed section of the paper is to provide a forum for varied opinions on the issues of the day. To that end I was able to tolerate Larry Derfner’s regular “Rattling the Cage” column. In the early days I would read it occasionally, but eventually became so disgusted that I would just ignore his vile nonsense. Part of me even hoped that there wasn’t actually someone so depraved and he was only writing the horrid things he did to get people’s “goat” in an attempt to boost readership.

    As I’m sure you’ve heard, Mr. Derfner recently posted an article on his blog titled “The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror”. This article crossed all lines of human decency as Mr. Derfner, taking a page out a Nazi-like playbook, justified, even supported, the killing of innocent people. In effect, Mr. Derfner said that it was an acceptable form political protest to shoot one year old Shalhevet Pass in the head or to slice the throat of 3 month old Hadas Fogel as she slept in her crib.

    I actually do understand the logic underlying Mr. Derfner’s perfidy; people who perceive themselves as being persecuted have a right to fight back and resist. But Mr. Derfner like so many others who have lost their moral compass twisted the logic beyond recognition. The entire world has accepted that the intentional targeting of civilians is morally unacceptable. And in fact, the world over, many people who have been and are in much, much worse situations that the Palestinians do NOT behave in such a savage way. There are ways to resist. This isn’t one of them. And, of course, it would be ludicrous to point out to someone as deranged as Mr. Derfner that the Palestinian terror groups who control the West Bank and Gaza have made it 100% clear that they are not interested in “resisting” occupation, but rather are intent on destroying Israel, all of Israel, and eliminating its Jewish population.

    In another time and place Mr. Derfner could have been brought up for charges of treason for his words. Words which have already (via social media) aided and abetted our enemies in a time of war. It’s very likely that he would even have been executed. Unfortunately, such times are no more.

    I’m writing to you in joining with a growing chorus of people who demand that you remove Mr. Derfner from the pages of the Jerusalem post. This is not an issue of free speech. The protection of free speech, something which I think is paramount in a free society, functions only in terms of government limiting such speech. While I would never advocate that the government prevent Mr. Derfner from writing on his blog, you have no obligation whatsoever to pay such a vile person to write for your paper.

    If Mr. Derfner is not removed as a writer for the Jerusalem Post I, and hopefully hundreds like me, will cancel my subscription to your paper. (Also to the Jerusalem Report, which I also subscribe to.) I hope it won’t come to that.

  12. Rafi G.:

    Was your comment about having no problem with Derfner being a leftist directed at my long (double comment)? The juxtaposition made it seem so (and the fact that no one seems to have directly related to his being a leftist).

    I feel that my comments were not directed at his leftness, but at the underlying premises in such an extreme statement as his.

    Just about everyone agrees that there ARE situations which justify using violence; it's just that everyone who does not go "beyond the pale" realizes that it requires extremely strong justification for using violence and killing others.

    I pointed out that such extremely strong justification simply does not exist here.

    If we were committing genocide, or in some other way trying to cause the death of Arabs, then one could make a case that we have to be resisted violently. However, resisting an occupation that is preferable to most Arabs over living in Arab countries, simply doesn't justify killing.

    If he had justified powerful demonstrations, sit-ins, blocking traffic, or even calling for boycotts, I could see how he justified it; but justifying murder is indeed "beyond the pale".

    So I tried to point that out by undermining Derfner's basic unspoken assumptions (though in the case of how bad the occupation is, he actually stated some of those assumptions explicitly); and once had commented to his blog, I couldn't resist the sarcastic reference to Pinocchio.

    By the way, on a related issue, even though I agree that occupying other people is NOT good for us Israelis; I feel that it is clearly better than the other available option (i.e., letting them kill us and destroy our state). Many political commentators, like Derfner, come out against something (like "occupation") as if it were an absolute evil, and refuse to acknowledge that it may be the best option available at the time. They act as if we live in a perfect world where anything that is somewhat morally repugnant must cease immediately, even if it causes something even more morally repugnant (like Israel committing national suicide). Being rather "fed up" with these political commentators who refuse to make the relative moral judgments which most regular human beings have to make, to one degree to another, rather frequently in their lives, also motivated me to comment on Derfner's insanity. I doubt that Derfner will be in any way convinced, but I felt like "putting the thoughts out there" so that normal people might be influenced by them.

  13. Catriel - no. I had been planning on writing it but was away from the computer for a while. i suspected when I wrote it that people would think I wrote it in response to your comment, so I didnt comment on your comment (which I had planned on doing) to try to avoid that

  14. Derfner has removed the offensive, morally repugnant post of his from his blog!

    He "replaced" it with the type of apology that usually occurs in these types of situations. See:

  15. i was told by an informed source that derfner did the whole thing because he is applying for grants from the NIF. he writes this article, gets attacked and then claims to be the victim fighting for democracy and against right wing lunatics.

  16. Larry:
    I am shocked and repelled by your moral blindness that makes my son Alex's death 24 years ago protecting northern villages of Israel from terrorists from Lebanon an act of aggression. His killer, who also killed Ronen Weissman and Oren Kamil, was released to a hero's welcome in Lebanon--and you would have joined the celebration.
    I shall do what I can to have you lose your platform at the JPost.
    Suzanne Singer

  17. thanks Suzanne.
    I think his apology was too little too late, and it showed what he really wants, even if he was pressured to remove it/

  18. The article is no longer to be found on Larry Derfner's website. Apparently some pressure got to him. What a reprehensible thing for him to say, and shame on the Jerusalem Post for having him on the payroll. Leftist like Derfner who toe anti-Israel line from would have us believe that this conflict began on June 11, 1967, and that the occupation is the cause of anti-Semitism and its associated mass murders from the terrorists.

  19. The Jpost fired Derfner because of this.


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