Associates of Prof. Naomi Chazan attacked the Jerusalem Post on Saturday in the wake of the English-language daily's decision to fire the former Meretz MK who is at the center of a right-wing campaign against the New Israel Fund, of which Chazan is president.
"The issue now is freedom of speech and freedom of expression," a source told Haaretz last night. "The paper took a stand against freedom of expression and Prof. Chazan regrets this to the depths of her soul."
Chazan was informed of her dismissal in an e-mail sent on Thursday by editor in chief David Horovitz. It stated that the newspaper was no longer interested in publishing her columns; Chazan had written a regular column in the Jerusalem Post for more than a decade. Chazan was originally asked to contribute to the paper while she was serving as a Knesset member for Meretz from 1992 to 2003.
She was "happy to honor the request, in the name of democracy and a multiplicity of opinions," a source said. The Jerusalem Post and Horovitz declined to comment, as did Chazan herself.
Chazan and the NIF were the subject of a media campaign launched last week by an organization called Im Tirtzu. This followed a newspaper report claiming that 92 percent of negative references to the Israel Defense Forces in the Goldstone report from Israeli sources originated with organizations sponsored by the NIF.
The fund's grantees include Adalah, Breaking the Silence, B'Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din and the Israeli branch of Physicians for Human Rights. Im Tirtzu launched an explicit campaign against the fund in the wake of report, which appeared in last weekend's Maariv.
Chazan said Thursday that there is no direct correlation between the positions of the fund and those of the grantees. "We don't support everything these organizations say, but we support their right to say it. Some organizations' only sin was signing a call for an independent committee of inquiry," she said.
"This is an attack against organizations that differ in their opinions about Goldstone. The only thing uniting them is a demand for an independent investigation, and this is totally mainstream. Even [Deputy Prime Minister] Dan Meridor called for such an investigation."
Meanwhile, a scheduled trip by Chazan to Australia was canceled. The executive director of the Australian, New Zealand and Asia branch of the Union for Progressive Judaism, Steve Denenberg, told The Weekend Australian that the postponement was a mutual decision between the UPJ and Chazan because both realized that the controversy would detract from fund-raising. He said the UPJ was supportive of Chazan as "a human rights activist, academic and progressive Jew."