Jerusalem Post: Chazan Fired Due to Lawsuit Over NIF Advert

Prof. Chazan was at center of right-wing media campaign against the New Israel Fund, of which she is president.

The Jerusalem Post said Sunday that former leftwing lawmaker Naomi Chazan had been dismissed from her column at the newspaper over her lawsuit against the publication, filed after the paper ran an advert by right-wing group targeting her.

Prof. Chazan and the New Israel Fund, of which she is president, issued the lawsuit after the Jerusalem Post published an advert by a right-wing organization attacking the two. The advert depicted Chazan with a horn on her head, and accused both her and the Fund of providing information to a United Nations probe into Israel's military operation in Gaza last winter.

The Post was one of several newspapers which carried the advert by the Im Tirtzu organization. The media campaign followed a newspaper article claiming that in the Goldstone report on Gaza, 92 percent of negative references about the Israel Defense Forces attributed to Israeli sources, had originated with organizations sponsored by the NIF.

"The decision was taken by Jerusalem Post management after a legal threat was received at the paper from the NIF and Chazan's lawyers," said the article on the Jerusalem Post website.

The Post came under fire Saturday from associates of Chazan, in the wake of the English-language daily's decision to fire her.

"The issue now is freedom of speech and freedom of expression," a source told Haaretz on Saturday. "The paper took a stand against freedom of expression and Prof. Chazan regrets this to the depths of her soul."

Amir Kadari from Aaronsohn Sher Aboulafia Amoday & Co. Law Offices, the firm which represents Chazan, called the ad part of an "incitement media campaign being waged against her and the News Israel Fund." Their ads, he said, constitute libel and incitement.

The Jerusalem Post, he noted, was the only major newspaper in Israel that ran the "slandering ad."

"The need the paper felt to clarify the discontinuation of Professor Chazan's column speaks for itself. We believe the process here was hasty and improper, and is a violation of Professor Chazan's rights and of free speech," he concluded.

Chazan was informed of her dismissal in an e-mail sent on Thursday by editor-in-chief David Horovitz, which 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, and had originally been asked to contribute to the paper during her stint as a Knesset member, from 1992 to 2003.

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 [inquiry into the Gaza conflict]. 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."