Friday, August 26, 2011

Larry Derfner's Apology--And What It Reveals About The Left's Understanding Of The Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Larry Derfner has apologized:
I have an apology to make for "The awful, necessary truth about Palestinian terror," which I posted here and on Facebook on Sunday. I didn't mean to say anything "good" about Palestinian terror against Israelis - I see nothing good in it whatsoever, and I thought I made that clear, but I see now that I didn't.

I wrote that because of the occupation, Palestinians are "justified" in attacking, even killing Israelis, that they have the "right" to do so. Later on I stressed that I didn't want them to kill my countrymen, and that I would do anything necessary to stop it. I meant those two points to show that I wasn't "for" terrorism, that while I thought the occupation justified it, that didn't mean I supported it. But I see now that the distance from "justified" to "support" is way, way too short - and I am as far away as anybody can be from supporting attacks on Israel and Israelis.

Writing that the killing of Israelis was justified and a matter of right took a vile image and attached words of seeming approval to it. This, I'm afraid, produced an "obscene" effect, as one critic wrote. I don't want to write obscenity about Israel. I didn't mean to, and I deeply regret it.

I meant, instead, to shock Israelis and friends of Israel into seeing how badly we're hurting the Palestinians by denying them independence: It's so bad that it's helping drive them to try to kill us. This is something I believe, something liberal Israelis and friends of Israel believe, and I wrote that if we were to start saying so publicly, it might force other Israelis to finally confront the reality of what we're doing to the Palestinians, and thereby get them to see that it's wrong and must stop.

My intention was to shock people into recognition, but I ended up shocking many of them into revulsion, and twisting what I wanted to say into something I didn't and don't mean at all.

What I mean is this: The occupation does not justify Palestinian terror. It does, however, provoke it. Palestinians do not have the right to attack or kill Israelis. They, do, however, have the incentive to, and part, though not all, of that incentive is provided them by the occupation. I believe that if Israel gives the Palestinians their independence, we have enough military power to neutralize whatever leftover incentive they would have to attack us. So my purpose with regard to Palestinian terror against Israelis is not to legitimize it, God forbid, but to end it.

Again, I regret what I wrote on Sunday. I apologize to everyone who was offended by it, and I apologize to my countrymen. The post is no longer on my blog; I've taken it down.[emphasis added]
The apology is straightforward: Derfner does not try to claim that he was misunderstood, but rather that he expressed himself poorly while admittedly trying to be provocative.

I read an email from Barry Rubin that looks at what Larry Derfner seems to be apologizing for:
Derfner says of the "denial of independence"

It's so bad that it's helping drive them to try to kill us.

1. But wait!!!! Didn't they used to say that it was the occupation that is helping drive them to try to kill us!

But now there's no "occupation" (except in 20 percent of Hebron and east Jerusalem) and they are still trying to kill us!

And guess what! If they get independence they will still try to kill us. Because it will be Israel's existence and the status of the "pre-1948" Palestinians that is "so bad that it's helping drive them to try to kill us."

2. There's another way to look at this, too. IF denying them independence is:

so bad that it's helping drive them to try to kill us.

Then if they got independence would they be so grateful, so happy, or so busy building up their country that they would stop trying to kill us?

No, we know--even the most dovish and leftist of us--that they will continue to try to kill us from a better strategic position, that is, making it more likely that they would succeed. So what good would that step do? And that is precisely why Israelis are not eager to support independence without any preconditions.

3. And who is "them"? Because obviously "them" doesn't apply to Hamas (the group that happens to run almost half of the Palestinian territories) or others. It doesn't even apply to most of Fatah.

In short, Derfner's formulation is nonsense. And to understand why it is nonsense is the essential point to understanding the conflict, the failure of the "Peace Process," and the Middle East.
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