It was a nasty kind of deja vu at the Times of Israel on Thursday after the website caused an uproar by publishing and then removing an op-ed calling for the mass murder of Palestinians.
“Jewish divine law makes it very clear: the ‘Palestinians’ not only have no right to any land, but the ‘Palestinians’ are not even human beings and thus have no right to even live at all,” the piece read, describing Palestinians as “worthless subhuman beasts and vermin.”
From there, the piece, which carried the byline of an Australian attorney named Josh Bornstein, got more incendiary.
“The thing to be done about the ‘Palestinians’ is to KILL them, exterminate them, get rid of them,” it went on. “How do we deal with cockroaches? We don’t argue or debate with them. We exterminate them.”
After widespread outrage over social media, the post was scrubbed around noon, along with Bornstein’s entire author page. An archived copy is still available online.
The Times of Israel tweeted later that day that it was looking into the “inappropriate/satire blog post”:
We’re looking into inappropriate/satire blog post that appeared briefly earlier today. Was removed immediately and is not endorsed by us.
— The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) April 9, 2015
The link to the piece attributed to Bornstein now leads to a 404 page, which, reads: “This is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?”
The Times of Israel dealt with a similar problem in August, when it scrubbed a post by Yochanan Gordon titled “When Genocide is Permissible.”
Bornstein’s author bio identified him as an employment lawyer and the president of Tzedek, an Australia-based Jewish advocacy group. Some of his writing can be found at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website, all of it focused on politics and economics.
The substance of the post, which appears out of step with Bornstein’s other writing for Times of Israel and elsewhere, has prompted some to ask whether the website was hacked.
@davidhorovitz Were you guys hacked or is that Bornstein piece an actual piece?
— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) April 9, 2015
— Josh Meyers (@MichaelSBHavel) April 9, 2015
I feel if Josh Bornstein was hacked he is going to be super pissed at TOI blogging platform
— Joel Braunold (@braunold) April 9, 2015
By Thursday night, the Australia-based Bornstein took to Twitter and denied any involvement with the article and the Times of Israel.
The Times of Israel posted an apology shortly after, saying the blog post was the work of a “malicious imposter.”
This post has been updated.