The Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner was fired today because he wrote on his blog a statement many readers saw as justifying Palestinian terrorism against Israelis. As so often happens when people focus on a single sentence of an article, they're missing the point, or at least the most important point. It also throws away what President Barack Obama calls a teachable moment.
The issue here is not “left” versus “right” but rather what is true and what is not.
In addition, columnists should not be continued in their jobs if their writing is not interesting or is factually inaccurate, not because they write something that people don’t like.
All too often nowadays the response to disagreement is to try to destroy people on the other side of the argument, to delegitimize them with name-calling and to silence them. That's not the way democratic debate is supposed to work. If you think someone is wrong then answer the substance of the statements being made.
I don't think Derfner should have been fired. Rather the point is that people should have answered what he said. Like Gideon Levy of Haaretz he is still arguing the line that terrorism is basically Israel’s fault. They hate us and want to kill us because we haven't made enough concessions and because we are oppressing them. That's the issue, not "justifying" terrorism.
Of course, Derfner's position implies that if Israel ended the “occupation” and accepted a Palestinian state, terrorism, incitement, and hatred would stop. Many people throughout the world think the same thing.
That is a point worth debating. Since 1993, Israel has been trying out that theory and it has proven to be false. Unfortunately, and I wish things were different, we learned that the Palestinian leadership doesn't want compromise and is unable to deliver it.
There are two problems here. First, the Palestinian leaders seek to wipe Israel off the map and are not in favor of a lasting, stable, and peaceful two-state solution. We know this by reading their words in Arabic, watching the institutions they direct, and observing their actions.
Secon, the Palestinian leaders--including those like Prime Minister Salam Fayyad--who do want negotiated compromise solution are too weak to bring it about. They fear their own people who they've been inciting toward extremism for years; the hardline mainstream within Fatah; and, of course, their Hamas rivals.
So, no, giving more territory; accepting a Palestinian state unconditionally; letting terrorist attacks on Israel go unanswered by retaliation; and so on will not solve the problem. I genuinely wish it were otherwise. It would be far better if Israel's left-wing was correct and there was an easy and quick way to achieve full peace through a two-state solution this week.
Indeed, a few minutes after writing this piece, I noticed that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has stated that even if the UN recognizes the independence of Palestine, he and his government will still demand that all Palestinians who lived within Israel's borders before 1948 or any descendants of such people can demand to go live in Israel and Israel must let them in. Or there cannot be peace.
You see, there's no end to this.