Alan Dershowitz is apparently either unable, or unwilling, to talk straight when it comes to Obama‘s hypocrisy re Israel. And it is truly a terrible thing to read Dershowitz’s pathetic rationalisations of the suicidal ‘compromises’ Israel is being pressured to make at the behest of the Obama administration.
Melanie Phillips says it best:
The American lawyer Alan Dershowitz is one of the most prolific, high-profile and indefatiguable defenders of Israel and the Jewish people against the tidal wave of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish feeling currently coursing through the west. So a piece by him in the Wall Street Journal giving expression to the rising anxiety being felt about Obama by American Jews naturally arouses great interest.
But just like the majority of American Jews, getting on for 80 per cent of whom voted for Obama, he is a Democrat supporter who is incapable of acknowledging the truth about this President. For most American Jews, the horror of even entertaining the hypothetical possibility that they might ever in a million years have to vote for a Republican is so great they simply cannot see what is staring them in the face — that this Democratic President is lethal for both Israel and the free world.
And in this article Dershowitz shows that he too is just as blind. Acknowledging the anxiety among some American Jews about Obama’s attitude to Israel, Dershowitz concludes uneasily that there isn’t really a problem here because all Obama is doing is putting pressure on Israel over the settlements, which most American Jews don’t support anyway.
But this is totally to miss the point. The pressure over the settlements per se is not the reason for the intense concern. It is instead, first and foremost, the fact that Obama is treating Israel as if it is the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Obama thus inverts aggressor and victim, denying Israel’s six-decade long victimisation and airbrushing out Arab aggression.
The question remains: why has Obama chosen to pick a fight with Israel while soft-soaping Iran which is threatening it with genocide? The answer is obvious: Israel is to be used to buy off Iran just as Czechoslovakia was used at Munich.
Indeed, I would say this is worse even than that, since I suspect that Obama – coming as he does from a radical leftist milieu, with vicious Israel-haters amongst his closest friends — would be doing this to Israel even if Iran was not the problem that it is.
In any event, the double standard is egregious. Obama has torn up his previous understandings with Israel over the settlements while putting no pressure at all on the Palestinians, even though since they are the regional aggressor there can be no peace unless they end their aggression and certainly not until they accept Israel as a Jewish state, which they have said explicitly they will never do.
On this, Obama is totally silent. So too is Dershowitz. That’s some omission.
Next, Obama is pressuring Israel to set up a Palestine state – within two years this will exist, swaggers Rahm Emanuel. But everyone knows that as soon as Israel leaves the West Bank, Hamas – or even worse – will take over. The only reason the (also appalling) Abbas is still in Ramallah, enabling Obama to pretend there is a Palestinian interlocutor for peace, is because the Israelis are keeping Hamas at bay.
Yet Dershowitz writes: “There is no evidence of any weakening of American support for Israel`s right to defend its children from the kind of rocket attacks candidate Obama commented on during his visit to Sderot.”
So what exactly does he think would happen if Israel came out of the West Bank and the Hamas rockets were down the road from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv (literally: many in the west have absolutely no idea how tiny Israel is). It’s not a question of Israel’s ‘right to defend its children’.
If Obama has his way, Israel would not be able to defend its children or anyone else, because Obama would have removed its defences by putting its enemies in charge of them.
It is astounding that Dershowitz can’t see this. Then there was Obama’s appalling Cairo speech — which I wrote about here – in which he conspicuously refrained from committing himself to defending Zionism and the Jewish people from the attacks and incitement to genocide against them, but committed himself instead to defending their attackers against ‘negative stereotyping’.
On this, Dershowitz has nothing to say. Worse still, by falsely asserting that the Jewish aspiration for Israel derived from the Holocaust, Obama effectively denied that the Jewish people were in Israel as of right and thus endorsed the core element of the Arab and Muslim propaganda of war and extermination.
On this, Dershowitz has nothing to say. Obama drew a vile – and telling – equivalence between the Nazi extermination camps and the Palestinian ‘refugee’ camps. On this, Dershowitz has nothing to say. Obama`s statement that the Palestinians ‘have suffered in pursuit of a homeland’ was grossly and historically untrue, and again denied Arab aggression. On this, Dershowitz has nothing to say.
Equally vilely, Obama equated genocidal terrorism by the Palestinians with the civil rights movement in America and the resistance against apartheid in South Africa. On all of this, Dershowitz has nothing to say. Dershowitz also grossly underplays the terrible harm Obama is doing to the security not just of Israel but the world through his reckless appeasement of Iran.
In the last few weeks, this has actively undercut the Iranian democrats trying to oust their tyrannical regime, and has actually strengthened that regime. All the evidence suggests ever more strongly that Obama has decided America will ‘live with’ a nuclear Iran, whatever it does to its own people. Which leaves Israel hung out to dry.
But even here, where he is clearly most concerned, Dershowitz scuttles under his comfort blanket – Dennis Ross, who was originally supposed to have been the US special envoy to Iran but was recently announced senior director of the National Security Council and special assistant to the President for the region. It is not at all clear whether this ambiguous development represents a promotion or demotion for Ross.
Either way, for Dershowitz to rest his optimism that Obama’s Iran policy will be all right on the night entirely upon the figure of Dennis Ross is pathetic. Ross, a Jew who played Mr. Nice to Robert Malley’s Mr. Nasty towards Israel in the Camp David debacle under President Clinton, is clearly being used by Obama as a human shield behind which he can bully Israel with impunity.
American Jews assume that his proximity to Obama means the President’s intentions towards Israel are benign. Dazzled by this vision of Ross as the guarantor of Obama’s good faith, they thus ignore altogether the terrible import of the actual words coming out of the President’s mouth.
The fact is that many American Jews are so ignorant of the history of the Jewish people, the centrality of Israel in its history and the legality and justice of its position that they probably saw nothing wrong in Obama saying that the Jewish aspiration for Israel came out of the Holocaust because they think this too.
Nor do they see the appalling double standard in the bullying of Israel over the settlements and what that tells us about Obama’s attitude towards Israel, because – as Dershowitz himself makes all too plain — they too think in much the same way, that the settlements are the principal obstacle to peace. Many if not most American Jews have a highly sentimentalised view of Israel. They never go there, are deeply ignorant of its history and current realities, and are infinitely more concerned with their own view of themselves as social liberals, a view reflected back at themselves through voting for a Democrat President.
Whatever else he is, however, Dershowitz is certainly not ignorant. Which makes this lamentable article all the more revealing, and depressing.
6 thoughts on “Has Dershowitz Lost The Plot?”
He was my camp counselor and I trust him but he makes mistakes. He was going to defend Matt Hale who was trying to become a member of Ill. bar until Levy and I sent him a bunch literature where Hale threatens violence against Jews. Had he gone through with that his career would have ended as one of Hale’s supporters went on a killing spree after he left the courtroom.
If the consensus shifts enough to move criticism of Obama on Israel into the mainstream, Dershowitz will be there. Otherwise I’m sure he’ll keep repeating the party line, as he has to be torn between the whole historic candidacy thing and the chance to pass a whole raft of domestic laws he wants… and the fate of Israel
Just as American Jews were once torn between FDR’s New Deal and the fate of the Jews in the Holocaust
– I’ll be popping into your site soon to read your latest posts on this topic; looking forward to it 🙂
I’ve only fully read one of Dershowitz’s books, ‘The Case For Israel’. I found it reasonably helpful, though I prefer Prof Steven Plaut’s writings.
Dershowitz must be getting brain ache, frankly. I envisage him sitting at home, pondering Obama’s policies on ‘settlements’ and then clutching his head muttering ‘Cannot compute’ over and over! Sooner or later he will surely have to choose – because there will come a point when even the most die-hard liberals won’t be able to convince themselves about Obama’s intentions re Israel.
Dershowitz’s arguments were the typically dishonest “Calm Down Jews” variety of argument that Obama promoters have been putting out for a while. As you’ve pointed out he doesn’t deal with the substance of the criticisms toward Obama. And he adds a suggestion that settlement growth be vertical that he picked up from a member of a Hamas supporting organzation.
The question isn’t whether Dershowitz supports Israel. The question is whether his first loyalty is to his fellow Jews or to liberalism. And Dershowitz has now answered the question, in the same way that Jewish American FDR supporters in the 40’s did when they ignored the Holocaust because the FDR administration wanted it ignored.
I’m not impressed by Dershowitz’s pro-Israel books. He did so by fighting safe targets like Divestment or Norman Finkelstein, who were outside the mainstream liberal Jewish consensus. You pretty much had to openly call for the destruction of Israel to back either one.
On the other hand in the case of Obama, where actual courage was required, Dershowitz backed off and is putting out, “Don’t worry Jews” press releases.
Being Pro-Israel doesn’t just mean standing up for Israel when it’s popular, but when it’s unpopular too.
I love the fact that both Melanie Phillips and Owlminerva can come down on Dershowitz–who has written a trilogy of books in outright support of Israel–from opposite poles, left and right if you will. I respond here.
[…] His point, I think, was that support of Israel should be bipartisan. Which is why I smile when my more conservative friends ask how I can vote Democtratic and still support Israel. As if one position naturally informed the […]