POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) — The Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be thousands of miles from South Florida, but the ripple effects continue.
On Wednesday, one of the attorneys fired by the Broward County Public Defender’s Office for anti-Palestinian postings took to the airwaves over the controversy.
Bruce Raticoff lashed out against his former boss on the Joyce Kaufman radio show in Pompano Beach.
“He fired his two best public defenders in an area no one else can do,” Raticoff said fearing that jailed residents he represented will be short-changed on their legal defense.
On July 8th, Chief Public Defender Howard Finkelstein fired Raticoff and Gary Sheres after the two were accused of Facebook postings that included comments like, “That’s why the Palestinian people are considered the cockroaches of the world, burn them to the ground.”
Finkelstein said, at the time, that hate-filled speech would not be tolerated by his office.
The Facebook comments were posted after three Israeli teenagers were murdered and there were reports of Palestinians celebrating the carnage.
Raticoff said he did not write the posting on his Facebook page but defended that person’s right to free speech.
He said he’s disappointed free speech was not protected by Finkelstein.
“When Howard Finkelstein has a personal interest and you disagree with him, your career is cut short.”
Finkelstein declined to appear on the show and his office did not respond to requests for comment from CBS4 news.
Raticoff who said he is opening his own private law practice said he has no desire to return to the public defender’s office.
“I’m no longer angry. I’m disappointed and outraged but I’ve had a great weight lifted off my shoulders,” said Raticoff. “I would never walk back into that office in a hundred million years for one hundred million dollars.”
During the radio show, Nezar Hamze the Regional Operations Director for South Florida’s Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR was contacted for comment.
“At no time did I call for anyone to be fired,” Hamze said.
He said he had asked Finkelstein’s office to investigate the anti-Palestinian postings but was never told what the investigation revealed.
“Free speech cuts two ways. Everybody has a right to resist that kind of bigotry,” he said.