Weekly Notebook: On Bibi’s lies, BDS, reality shows, and more

New feature: A selection of Larry Derfner’s sociopolitical outbursts on Facebook (and one email) for the week ending Saturday, April 5. 

Illustrative photo by Shutterstock.com
Illustrative photo by Shutterstock.com


FB reaction to commenter who asks, “What have the Palestinians done to advance peace recently?” (Sunday, March 30):

Close, daily security cooperation with the IDF and Shin Bet for 10 full years. They’ve arrested thousands of Hamasniks. It’s a key reason why terror is so low, and the only reason why you don’t see massive anti-Israeli demonstrations. Palestinian forces are policing the Palestinian population areas – the cities, the villages, the refugee camps – not the IDF. As Dov Weisglas once said, the West Bank is the world’s only prison where the prisoners guard themselves.

This is why Israel does not want the PA to fold, why it dreads the prospect of it, and why Abbas keeps threatening it. When I say “Israel” I mean the army and the government – the Israeli public has no responsibility, it doesn’t need to keep this information in mind, so it doesn’t, which allows people to ask “what have the Palestinians done to advance peace recently?”


On his Haaretz op-ed, “J Street’s hypocrisy must be exposed.” (FB, Friday, March 28):

Alan Dershowitz goes after J Street as being dangerously left-wing, calls the Goldstone Report “mendacious and despicable” (he called its author an “evil, evil man”) while describing himself for the zillionth time as a supporter of the two-state solution. Dershowitz is the ultimate new Zionist “centrist” – a bloodthirsty warmonger who cheers home every Israeli bullet aimed at any Arab, but says with a smile that he wants peace. He’s reminiscent of Nixon at his most lethal. This is the sort of person who gets raised up as a Zionist hero for our time.


On Haaretz op-ed “Why Israelis make the worst tourists,”  about how South American Jews are tired of apologizing for the often offensive, destructive behavior of ubiquitous Israeli backpackers. (FB, Monday, March 31):

This is written by an “active member of the Jewish community” in Santiago, Chile. She’s describing Israeli post-army trekkers – but it holds true for the pre-army trekkers, too, who may be even worse. I think army behavior (the experience or anticipation of it) is part of the reason, but not the main one – the main one is the radical inconsiderateness that’s acceptable behavior in this country – even if most Israelis don’t like it, they won’t stop it. And when you get young Israelis traveling in groups abroad, especially in countries many of them think of as “primitive,” it’s not going to be pretty.

Why is obnoxiousness such a common quality among Israelis? Take people with a harsh background, give them a country with a harsh climate and landscape to settle, and a harsh reaction from the “natives,” and a harsh-sounding, blunt language, and teach them that they’re the lords of the land and, last of all, give them parents who typically treat them like they’re little gods and goddesses, and what do you get? An unusually high gross national product – pun intended – of obnoxious behavior.


The PM goes on a comedy show to stand up for his wife (and himself) against latest claims by ex-household staff that his wife Sara is a witch and he goes along with her. (FB, March 26):

Watch the brief video of Bibi’s prime-time declaration of love for Sara. If you don’t feel embarrassed, well, I don’t know. This is the phoniest human being I’ve ever seen. Once again, he displays that special quality of his: absolute shamelessness.


Response to sympathizer who is skeptical about whether BDS can force Israel to end the occupation, when the right wing and the settlers are so entrenched (Email, March 29):

I think that if it’s going to happen, it’s going to follow the S. African precedent – years of build-up of pressure until the Israeli public says enough – and at that point it won’t require a left-wing leader, just a competent, centrist manager like De Klerk to carry out the national will.

And if it happens, I’m pretty sure Israel won’t make the mistake again of forcibly throwing settlers out of their homes, which in this case could set off a civil war, but instead just take a government decision to be be out of the territory on such and such a date, and that the settlers are more than welcome to relocate inside the new border before then (in return for what I hope will be mammoth compensation), but that after that date, they’re on their own. Just like the French did it in Algeria. (Don’t know if they gave the pied noir much compensation, though.)

No more than a few nutcases would remain in the settlements, and the Palestinian cops could round them up and turn them over to Israel. At worst you’d have a Waco or two, and they wouldn’t have much sympathy from Israelis.

But like I said, I think this is going to take a good few years of softening up Israelis until they’re ready. And all kinds of other unexpected things could happen, of course. But basically, I don’t see Israel being able to go on with the occupation and getting away with it indefinitely. (I don’t see it being able to go on bombing neighboring countries and getting away with that indefinitely, either.)

I think there’s been a change in the world’s perception – it sees that the occupation is not temporary or provisional, that this is what Israel has chosen – and if the Palestinians fight back non-violently, it’s going to be very hard for the world to go on enabling Israel to keep them down.


On United Nations Human Rights Council’s latest votes against occupation. (FB, Saturday, March 29):

Look which countries joined the 46-1 vote in the UNHRC against Israel over the occupation (supposedly “pro-Israel” countries are capitalized): Austria, Chile, COSTA RICA, CZECH REPUBLIC, Estonia, France, GERMANY, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Phillipines, South Korea, Romania, Russia, Macedonia, UNITED KINGDOM. Once again, only America backed Israel. Israelis and Americans think the UNHRC is run by Arab and left-wing Third World countries because no one else could be so “anti-Israel.” Well, it turns out you don’t have to be Arab, left-wing or Third World to oppose the occupation.


Reactions to news of emerging U.S./Israel offer to Abbas (Palestinians agree to extend peace talks until next year, in return Israel makes good on its broken promise to free 26 long-term prisoners, plus another 400 of its choosing, and agrees to “restrain” construction in the West Bank, though not in East Jerusalem) (FB, Tuesday, April 1):

1. It’s a bad deal for the Palestinians – they have to sit still for the occupation another year in return for very little – the release of hundreds of prisoners who were due to be released soon anyway, and a reduction in the growth of settlements – not a settlement freeze nor, God forbid, a removal of settlements, nor even of illegal outposts. The problem is that I don’t know if the Palestinians can afford to turn it down – it looks to the outside world like the U.S. is bending over backwards and Israel is finally being flexible (gag); if the Palestinians were to turn down the offer and refuse to extend the peace talks, they would be widely blamed, and they would launch their international campaign with a cloud over their heads in the eyes of all but their committed supporters. Maybe they can negotiate a slightly tougher deal on settlement construction. But I think they’ve been boxed in by the fucking Americans again.

2. I think the Palestinians should demand a real settlement freeze – an absolute ban on construction over the Green Line, which is what Obama and Hillary Clinton demanded at first – and if Israel agrees, they should extend the peace talks, and if Israel balks, they should go to the UN. What Kerry is offering is not a settlement freeze, only a reduction in settlement growth, which the world will not demand that the Palestinians accept.


Once again, an “outsider” wins Israeli reality show (FB, Saturday, April 5):

Alright all you leftist cynics out there – yes, an Arab woman won Master Chef, again an Arab, Ethiopian or foreign worker wins an Israeli reality show, so you’re thinking, “Hasbara! Conspiracy!” But anyone who watched the show could see that Nof was clearly the best, no question.


On a U.S. campaign hit piece put out by pro-Israel neocons (FB, Tuesday, April 1):

Joe McCarthy had nothing on William Kristol, Noah Pollak, Michael Goldfarb, Gary Bauer and the rest of the chickenhawks at the Emergency Committee for Israel. Here is ECI’s new 30-second TV campaign ad against U.S. Congressman Walter Jones, who’s in the Rand Paul “isolationist” camp of the Republican Party. At one point the film shows a crowd burning American and Israeli flags as the narrator says Jones “is endorsed by an anti-Israel” group, and the group’s logo, above the words “endorsed by anti-Israel group,” appears on the screen. Which “anti-Israel group” are they talking about? J Street. My advice to J Street: Hire private detectives and sic them on Kristol, Pollak, Goldfarb, Bauer and anybody else connected with ECI, and if you can, destroy them.             


How the country’s most popular, influential newspaper and TV news show are covering the breakdown in the peace talks.

(FB, Friday April 4) Yedioth Ahronoth, the best window on Israel there is, takes the line today that “the Palestinians broke the rules.” Abbas’ move to sign Palestine on to 15 international conventions – that’s what caused the crisis in the peace talks, not Israel’s refusal to free 26 prisoners as promised last Friday, not the announcement of 700 new West Bank housing tenders. That’s been forgotten as if it never happened – the whole thing, according to Yedioth’s headlines, news story and lead column, started with the Palestinians and their international conventions.

A “senior Israeli official” explains Israel’s decision yesterday to cancel the fourth prisoner release: “Our goal now is to stop everything – to toughen our stance and then start over at the beginning.” The thinking in Jerusalem, the story says, is that the world “understands that the Palestinians are to blame for the crisis,” so the strategy is to take measured steps and not freak out so the blame will stay on their heads. Israeli official: “They went to the UN knowing that we’re releasing prisoners. They did it purposely – and now they have to pay the price.”

The Israeli government believes the world blames the Palestinians for the failure of the peace talks, and now the Palestinians are going to come crawling back to the negotiations. And the newspaper of the nation” pretty much tells the story from the government’s point of view. This country is so brainwashed, from top to bottom, that it’s completely lost touch with reality.

(FB, Saturday, April 5) I just watched the tape of last night’s Channel 2 news, with the discussion of the peace talks and the interview with Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub. There was only one Israeli journalist (Dana Weiss) on the panel who didn’t sound like Bibi’s spokesman; otherwise, they were all on board for blaming the Palestinians completely. The anchor (Danny Cushmaro), the “reporter” (Udi Segal) and the commentator (Ehud Ya’ari) all grilled Rajoub not like journalists, but like Likudniks. They spoke of “our” position, identifying themselves with the government. Israel’s “fiercely independent” media at work.


Immediate reactions to news of ex-PM’s bribery conviction. (FB, Monday, March 31):

1. YES!!!

2. Very proud of the Israeli justice system today. Convicting an ex-PM for bribery isn’t a small thing.

3. Why are all these phonies saying this is a sad day because a former PM was convicted of bribery? Did anyone think Olmert isn’t a crook? He’s managed to beat back corruption charges since the 1980s, if not earlier, because he hires teams of great lawyers and he’s a slick lawyer himself, so he’s fairly adept at covering his tracks. This is a great day – the bastard finally got caught but good. And there is no way on earth he’s not going to prison for years. It’s just too bad that that even more talented master criminal, Avigdor Lieberman, and the thousands of other thieves in Israeli politics aren’t going in with him.


In general, and specifically with regard to the Kerry peace talks (FB, Saturday, April 5):

1. I just read the New York Times‘ two latest big news stories on the peace process, or maybe one was a news story and the other an “analysis” or “background” or something, and you couldn’t find anything in either story that said which side, Israel or the Palestinians, was guilty, or just guiltier than the other side, even by a hair. The implication was that each side is exactly 50 percent guilty – and that, of course, is nonsense, and the writers and the newspaper know it’s nonsense, so it’s also dishonest. But that’s the story that objective journalism tells about every conflict – a false, dishonest one.

2. And when objective journalism portrays both sides of a conflict as being precisely 50 percent guilty, which is never, ever the case, it gives aid and comfort to the guilty, or guiltier, side, while heaping additional injustice on the side that’s innocent, or at least relatively so. And I can’t think of a better example of this than the news coverage of the Kerry peace talks, which assign moral equivalence to the conqueror and the conquered.