I have a friend who thinks the JPost keeps Derfner on as a columnist is because they satifsy two needs at once: they get a “left-wing” columnist and comic relief. I admit that Derfner’s writing provides a fair amount of amusement, and I’ve long ceased to take him seriously. (He did do a good piece on a Druze honor-killing in 2005.) Now he surpasses himself in combining the lamest kind of cognitive egocentrism which he then presents as a courageous challenge to the meanest taboos of Israeli society. (HT:ALG)
Rattling the Cage: A taboo question for Israelis
By LARRY DERFNER
Dec 30, 2009 21:26 | Updated Dec 31, 2009 14:01
There’s a question we Israelis won’t ask ourselves about the Palestinians, especially not about Gaza. The question is taboo. Not only won’t anyone ask it out loud, but very, very few people will dare ask it in the privacy of their own minds.
However, I think it’s time we start asking it, privately and in public. If we don’t, I think there’s going to be Operation Cast Lead II, then Operation Cast Lead III, and each one is going to be worse than the last, and the consequences for Palestinians and Israelis are going to be unimaginable.
The question we have to ask ourselves is this: If anybody treated us like we’re treating the people in Gaza, what would we do?
We don’t want to go there, do we? And because we don’t, we make it our business not to see, hear or think about how, indeed, we are treating the people in Gaza.
I’ll let either masochists or humorists continue to read his article at the JPost site. I just have two major comments to make on his premise.
1) If we behaved towards other people the way that the Palestinians under the benighted leadership of Hamas and Fatah have behaved towards us, there would be no end to the Israelis — Derfner included — who would say we were getting what we deserved. (They say it anyway.)
(The idea that Israeli treatment is the cause of the Palestinians’ behavior, that somehow we need to understand their hatred and violence as a direct function of our deeds [rather than mere existence], is a nice illustration of masochistic omnipotence syndrome. We can change it all by changing our behavior.)
2) We know how Jews have behaved with those who treat them badly. Without sovereignty they were largely meek and mild; and when they did fight back (e.g., the Warsaw Ghetto) against things far more vicious than anything Israel has ever done to the Palestinians, they never targeted German civilians no matter how weak and desperate they were. Even Sharon, from a position of overwhelming superiority of force, when he took over at the onset of the second intifada and its staggering wave of suicide attacks on civilians, waited two years before striking back.
To make this comparison is already to misunderstand profoundly. To think it’s a brave and penetrating mental exercise suggests that my friend’s theory may well be right: the man is a (bad) joke… and one that doesn’t begin to fathom his own people, even himself. (As commenter 417 put it: “You can be compassionate without being stupid.”) Where’s the still-living Palestinian Derfner? Too smart to open his or her mouth?