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Friday, August 29, 2008

Larry Derfner finally goes too far

I have no idea why the Jerusalem Post keeps paying Larry Derfner for his inane and wrongheaded columns.  Maybe it is so that he will serve as a lightning rod for criticism and make some of the other less-inspired J-Post staff appear more polished by comparison.  But that was really their problem.  Until today.

Whether by accident or design, Larry Derfner has finally spilled the beans on the not-so-carefully hidden agenda of the so-called 'peace camp' (of which he counts himself a member).

In his most recent column entitled 'Livni's the one', Derfner repeatedly refers to Livni as the peace camp's 'great white hope'.  Is he so out of touch with reality that he doesn't realize the racist origins of that phrase?  I, for one, think it was quite deliberately employed.

'The Great White Hope' was a 1967 play by Howard Sackler that presented a fictionalized version of the story of an African American heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, who was arguably the best fighter of his era.   Because of the racism of the times the image of a black boxer beating white opponents was deemed so explosive that a law was passed making it illegal to transport boxing films across state lines, and therefore any white boxer who had a chance of unseating the black champ was referred to as 'the great white hope'.

It didn't matter that Jackson had won his championship fairly and was the best fighter of his day.  All the white racists saw was a black man beating up white men (and dating white women) and it was intolerable.

For Larry Derfner and his fellow racists in the peace camp, anyone who comes from the right is an intolerable choice.  He comes right out and says as much with his statement chiding his fellow peaceniks over their suspicion of a former Likudnik who "still hasn't gotten over the Altalena", as if the deliberate murder of Jewish Irgun fighters (many swimming helplessly in the water) by Jewish Hagana troops under the command of St. Yitzhak Rabin, was some sort of regrettable traffic accident!

Now I don't like Tzipi Livni.  Not one bit.  She was never an idealogical Likudnik (as was born out by her defection to Kadima and her enthusiastic support of the disengagement) and she was the architect of Israel's disastrous surrender terms under UN Security Council resolution 1701 which gave Israel nothing but empty promises, and handed Hezbollah a victory.

But reading Larry Derfner chiding his fellow peaceniks over their reluctance to embrace Livni because she comes from that more colorful party is just a bit too much. 

The Likud came to power in 1977 largely on a wave of dissatisfied working class Israelis whose origin in Mediterranean and middle eastern countries put them at a real and/or perceived disadvantage to their fairer skinned Ashkenazi countrymen in nearly every arena where the two groups competed.

It is incredible to me that in 2008 Larry Derfner is using not-so-subtle of racist code words that sound like 'anything but Likud' but really amount to 'we need someone who is a white dove... like in the old days'.

I don't know about you, but the doves - white or otherwise - have had their full innings.  We have indulged their unilateral gifts and confidence building gestures.  We have made endless 'painful concessions' and exposed the soft underbelly of the country to an unreformed enemy that calls for nothing but our destruction.

To Mr. Derfner, anyone who is not a peacenik right this very minute is pro-war.  It is not unlike the way the anti-abortion crowd uses the term 'pro-life' to label anyone who can fathom a reason to legally abort a fetus as 'pro-death'. 

That is Mr. Derner's right.

But there isn't a single Israeli I have ever met - right or left - who prefers war over peace where a real choice exists.  Nobody wants to fight (or send their children to fight) when there is a possibility not to do so.  But when the enemy continues to wage war and call for our destruction, it is not a character flaw or an unfortunate ethnic tendency to want to protect oneself.

When Larry Derfner starts openly using racist phrases to draw the line between the left and right, I think it is time for him to lose his bully pupit and be fired.  This country has enough problems without journalists tossing around language intended to imply that this country needs to be placed back in the capable hands of 'the right kind of people' in order to save it from the war-mongering savages of the Likud.   

Posted by David Bogner on August 29, 2008 | Permalink


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...and every time you read his post he gets a point from the boss. That link there will provide him with even more traffic. JPost will think he's quite the draw.

As for that abortion comment, now I remember why I stopped reading this blog for a few years. Well, it's your blog. Cheers.

Posted by: M. Patterson | Aug 29, 2008 5:23:08 PM

M. Patterson ... I could care less what the JPost might or might not make of the link. What troubles me is your comment. If you read back a few posts you'll recall that I don't tolerate emotional blackmail from my readers. You are free to read or not read as you see fit. You can even go write that I'm a baby-murdering psycopath on your own blog. But don't make some lame attempt to punish me with crap like you wrote above... I don't care. Also, FYI, I am not a fan of those who use abortion as a lazy form of birth control, but if you honestly can't think of one single reason why a woman might need the legal option to seek a safe abortion, you are not only on the wrong blog... you are in the wrong century.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Aug 29, 2008 6:07:04 PM

Dear Treppenwitz,

Why do you get so upset...just let people speak their minds, you are so sensitive, shake it off, letting people talk will make you a greater person and blogger. Remember people are not mad at you ..you are far too nice and sweet for that.

Posted by: Joan | Aug 29, 2008 6:33:02 PM

Joan... If you are talking about Larry Derfner, I am angry because I refuse to let some idiot take Israel back to the 50s and 60s without having to answer for his ignorance and racism. If you are talking about M. Patterson, I think my comment speaks for itself. But thank you for trying to talk me out of the tree. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Aug 29, 2008 6:35:47 PM

You baby killing psychopath should know better than to say "I could care less." No, you "Could NOT care less." Lexicographers all over the world are sacrificing babies over this.
Hmmm...on to a serious point. As you know, perhaps too well, that I am uncomfortable with racist language, coded or otherwise, I would point out that Derfner, whose work is unfamiliar to me, may not have been truly aware of the origins of that phrase. That does not absolve him, and certainly his editor should have caught it and made sure he really meant to say that. That being the case, I think even if Derfner did not mean it the way you interpreted it, your critique still stands.

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Aug 29, 2008 7:08:26 PM

I wonder if Derfner meant it as Ashkenazi vs. Sephardi, or maybe more Us vs. Them (us doves, them warmongerin' cowboy settlers, don't y'know). All the same, an unfortunate turn of phrase. By and large, I agree with Jordan on this one.

Posted by: psachya | Aug 29, 2008 8:04:50 PM

I read Derfner's article before you posted and was also puzzled by his use of the great white hope metaphor. I don't know if his use is racist and sinister. One must remember that the Jerusalem Post has always had a British hue to it. (They speak English, while you and I, my friend speak American, a totally different language.) It may be that he really doesn't know the true meaning of "great white hope". In which case he is either an unprofessional journalist who doesn't research before he publishes, or just plain stupid.
BTW the play was made into a movie in 1970 starring James Earl Jones who was the original actor for the play.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Aug 29, 2008 10:59:08 PM

"...but if you honestly can't think of one single reason why a woman might need the legal option to seek a safe abortion, you are not only on the wrong blog... you are in the wrong century."

Dave, G-d doesn't care what century we are in, or what millenium. Over three thousand years ago, one of your forefathers confirmed what a "fetus" is worth to his Creator:

"...thou hast covered me in my mother's womb...thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

Posted by: Dina | Aug 30, 2008 8:32:56 AM

"Larry Derfner writes to throw off the poison which he has accumulated because of his false way of life. He is trying to recapture his innocence, yet all he succeeds in doing (by writing) is to inoculate the world with a virus of his disillusionment."

Abortion is NOT the subject here!

Posted by: Rami | Aug 30, 2008 6:22:14 PM

Dave's comments on abortion actually reflect the position of Jewish law, which certainly forbids it as a form of birth control (G-d forbid), but not in a situation of danger to the mother, whose life takes precedence. Once the baby's head is out, it is treated as full blown person like anyone else.

Posted by: Yosef | Aug 31, 2008 1:35:08 AM

Very interesting....I suspect he didn't realize the racial implications, yet even so the tendency of the press (and others) to catagorize the right as "nut cases" is only too well known.....

Why is it that anyone who disagrees with us is evil? Why is freedom of speech only for those who agree with me?

Posted by: Rickismom | Aug 31, 2008 10:20:28 AM

just out of interest, does anyone else know that Max Schmeling (one "l"), who put the Brown Bomber down twice also protected Jews?

BTW if you call someone "the ugly american" is that good or bad? another case of using a dog-eared phrase without getting to the deeper significance (as per what quietus leo wrote)

PLEASE sponsor Gila for the ALYN ride

Posted by: asher | Aug 31, 2008 12:56:32 PM

and BTW unilateral concessions were Bibi's forte, more than anyone else's but I will not get dragged into that all over again

PLEASE sponsor Gila for the ALYN ride (did I already say that?)

Posted by: asher | Aug 31, 2008 12:59:19 PM

I read up a bit about Louis/Scmeling and found the following

A few weeks before the fight, Louis visited the White House, where President Franklin D. Roosevelt told him, "Joe, we need muscles like yours to beat Germany." Louis later wrote in his autobiography, "I knew I had to get Schmeling good. I had my own personal reasons and the whole damned country was depending on me." Comedian Dick Gregory jokingly said that it was "probably the first and only time in history that a black man could end up being a white hope".

(from the Wikipedia entry about Joe Louis)

Posted by: asher | Aug 31, 2008 2:54:56 PM

I read Derfner all the time--great for getting the blood up in the morning. He's not a Brit, he's American, so he can't use that as an excuse. Like most Lefties, he is totally self-righteous, doesn't tolerate diversity of opinion, and sees only the racism in people who aren't "pure" like the peacenik Far Left. Settlers are racists by definition, in his lexicon, but anyone who is "for peace" and is living the privileged upper middle class lifestyle in Tel Aviv (or Modi'in, where most working class Israelis can't afford to buy any more)is someone he is comfortable with. It would never occur to him that his entire world-view, living in the Ashkenaziville, is colored by his elitism. The whole problem with Meretz/Labor et al, is that they are run by a bunch of privileged elitist Ashkenazim and have, for ages, ignored the working class Sephardim/Mitrachi population.

Well, guess who's having more than 1.2 children per family? Guess who is the growing political base in this country? It isn't the Ashkenazim Tzafonim.....so they can preach to each other all day long about who "should be" the next prime minister, but if my sampling of my mostly Mitzrachi neighbors is reliable, it's going to be Netanyahu, like it or not.

Posted by: aliyah06 | Aug 31, 2008 4:38:07 PM

Not to be snarky, but perhaps instead of Tzippi Livni, Israel needs "change we can believe in"?

I'm all in favour of giving horrid Arab-cesspools back to the Arabs...... but peace at any price is a recipe for disaster.

As to whether peace is even possible, that is a different question entirely. It strikes me as significant that both Jordan and Egypt became capable of 'peace' once they dumped their responsibilities - Gaza and the West Bank. After black September, I can understand Hussein wanting to be rid of the Palestinians (took him a long time to realize that), but Egypt got one hell of a deal - all of Sinai, without a single Gazan. The two Arab countries that made peace with Israel got much more out of it than Israel.

Posted by: The Back of the Hill | Sep 3, 2008 12:03:13 AM

Yosef, nobody in the world thinks that the fetus' life takes precedence over the mother's. So Dave is presumably arguing that abortion should be permissible in other circumstances as well. Unfortunately for Dave and you, according to halacha the list of these circumstances is extremely short, and it's fair to conclude that he meant to legalize abortion even in situations in which halacha does not permit it.

Posted by: Shlomo | Sep 4, 2008 2:43:48 AM

Last update - 03:19 04/09/2008
Ultra-orthodox school system rejects Sephardi girls
By Or Kashti, Haaretz Correspondent

The ultra-Orthodox Beit Yaakov school in Elad is refusing to accept girls into its first-grade class if they attended the Agudat Yisrael preschool, where most of the children are from Sephardi families.

The school belongs to the Ashkenazi independent school system that is funded by the Education Ministry but has broad pedagogic freedom. The parents of one of the girls filed an administrative petition against the school earlier this week at the Tel Aviv District Court. Until a ruling is handed down, the girl will be staying at home.

"We are sticking our neck out for a large number of families in Elad who cannot get their daughters into Beit Yaakov," said the girl's mother on Tuesday.

Posted by: Sol | Sep 4, 2008 4:24:34 AM

Thanks to you

Posted by: NewssyLee | Sep 6, 2008 2:18:58 AM

Unless we put ourselves in the "enemy's" shoes, we will never understand why "...the enemy continues to wage war and call for our destruction..."

There is no doubt that the "enemies," being human just as any of us, are in absolute agreement with "Nobody wants to fight (or send their children to fight) when there is a possibility not to do so."

Why then do they choose to fight such a desperate war? Have we ever been truly honest to ourselves in understanding and seeing the "enemies" as real persons who have parents and children to love and cherish just as we do?

Posted by: Ehud | Jan 6, 2009 2:22:45 AM

Should Gideon Levy be fired as well? Ha'aretz published his indictment of Netanyahu for "cheapening" the Holocaust.

Posted by: jim | Sep 28, 2009 11:11:58 PM

Getting back to the sickening subject of Mr. Larry Derfner, I recently read his article where he says he was relieved to find that the Norwegian atrocities were not committed by Muslims.
I suggest that he would have been the happiest man in the world if they had been committed by citizens of his own country, Israelis. Can anyone suggest to him a country he can hate even more than Israel and give him a one-way ticket?

Posted by: Michael Schneider | Jul 25, 2011 4:37:43 PM

Getting back to the sickening subject of Mr. Larry Derfner, I recently read his article where he says he was relieved to find that the Norwegian atrocities were not committed by Muslims.
I suggest that he would have been the happiest man in the world if they had been committed by citizens of his own country, Israelis. Can anyone suggest to him a country he can hate even more than Israel and give him a one-way ticket?

Posted by: Michael Schneider | Jul 25, 2011 4:37:43 PM

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