FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Two Broward County assistant public defenders who reportedly made disparaging remarks about Palestinians on Facebook have been fired.
Public Defender Howard Finklestein confirmed that attorneys Bruce Raticoff and Gary Sheres were terminated.
“You can’t engage innate filled speech that interferes with this office,” said Finklestein. “It sickens me. I didn’t agonize over this because we represent equal justice.”
In the Facebook posts on July 2nd, the two men reported referred to Palestinians as “filthy swine” and “cockroaches,” according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The remarks were made in response to a Facebook post which claimed Palestinians were celebrating the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens. On the post Sheres commented “They are the filthy swine. They don’t eat. Their ignorance to the world bewilders the dumbest people I have ever met.”
The comment “That’s why the Palestinian people are considered the cockroaches of the world. Reprehensible and despicable with utter disregard for civility and humanity. Burn them to the ground,” appeared a short time later next to Raticoff’s Facebook icon.
Raticoff said it wasn’t him. Raticoff says a relative is responsible but he defends her right to free speech.
“For the public defender to trample on constitutional rights. It’s outrageous,” said Raticoff.
Sheres said he was talking specifically about the Palestinians in the article: those who kill people or celebrate in the murders, according to the paper.
A day after the posts were made, the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Florida) called on Finkelstein and State Attorney Michael J Satz to launch an investigation into the hateful posts.
“We are extremely concerned that two public officials have such deep hatred for Palestinians and are appearing to advocate violence by asking people to ‘Burn them to the ground,'” said Nezar Hamze, regional operations director of CAIR-Florida, said in a statement at the time. “Somebody with that hate can’t possibly treat people equally.”
On Tuesday, representatives from CAIR met with the Public Defenders office to discuss the incident.
Assistant Public Defender Lubna Abulown, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, told the staff she was there to out a face on the controversy.
“They were my friends so it saddened me but people feel they can write hate speech without consequences,” said Abulown. “I’m grateful I was born here.”