This was a morally repulsive argument

Let us give Larry Derfner the benefit of the doubt that he does not wish to see terror attacks inflicted upon his fellow Israelis. That much is clear both from the original blog post and from his subsequent apology. He has also, belatedly, learned the value of editors, particularly for controversial material.

But the fact remains that even following his clarification, he does "justify" Palestinian terror attacks, in the sense that he seems to believe that Palestinians have little choice but to commit them. Worse: he argues that Israelis have brought Palestinian terror attacks on themselves, and actually deserve them.

"What's needed very badly, however, is for Israelis to realise that the occupation… [is] 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," he wrote. "…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… is to blame for those eight Israeli deaths [near Eilat last month]."

Israel, he is saying, bears sole responsibility for the lack of establishment of a Palestinian state, and so its citizens are fair game. Of course, Israel has made many mistakes along the way, but the idea that Israel alone is to blame is ludicrous. Several prime ministers made the Palestinians serious offers, only to be rebuffed, sometimes without even a counter-offer. Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze settlement building for 10 months, giving the peace talks a chance, but the Palestinians would not negotiate without pre-conditions. Withdrawal from Gaza led to rockets, not to reciprocal gestures.

Had the Palestinians truly wanted a state they could have negotiated one by now. But they have preferred to engage in terror, not out of desperation - as Derfner fantasises - but as a calculated political tool in their effort to destroy the Israeli state.

Palestinians are independent agents. It is condescending for Derfner to argue that Israel is somehow "making" them resort to terror. And dangerous and morally repulsive (though perhaps not a firing offence for a columnist paid to provoke) to suggest they have no choice but to murder innocent civilians.

Mr Derfner may feel comfortable advancing this argument on the web. I wonder if he would have the guts say it to the families of murdered Israelis, face-to-face.

Miriam Shaviv is a JC columnist and former journalist for the Jerusalem Post

Last updated: 11:20am, September 8 2011