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Review :: Politics
Alan Dershowitz's Insinuation and Omission
27 Sep 2005
Alan Dershowitz gave a lame talk about how peace happens when Palestinians find somewhere else to live.
Report on Alan Dershowitz's talk in Cambridge, MA

Joachim Martillo

On September 18,2005 Alan Dershowitz gave a talk on his new book, "The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can be Resolved" at Congregation Eitz Chayim קהילת עץ חײם (Tree of Life) in Cambridge, MA (see below). This reform Temple located in a charming Cambrigeport neighborhood has a heymish atmosphere more usually associated with Eastern European Orthodox synogogues. It feels a lot like the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring in Brookline, and the two memberships probably have a lot of cultural similarity and overlap. The attendees are older and graying, have a left-wing or radical intellectual heritage, but along with the entire American Jewish community they are moving toward the right even if they want to think of themselves as progressive activists. The membership of Eitz Chayim was probably never as anti-Zionist as the Arbeter Ring, which belongs to the tradition of the Jewish Bund, but at one time there was probably a fairly strong anti-Zionist contingent. It was not in evidence at Dershowitz' lecture.

Dershowitz gave his talk in the temple auditorium in front of the Aron Hakodesh, where the Scroll of the Torah is housed. The hall was practically full (probably more than 100 people). A reporter for The Boston Globe attended, but no article has appeared in that paper as of September 27.

Dershowitz did not present much material not contained in his book, and reading the book is probably more efficient than actually making the effort to see him in person. The Boston Public Library has at least eleven copies of it (but only six copies of Beyond Chutzpah by Finkelstein which explains major issues in Dershowitz' previous book, The Case for Israel). Dershowitz claims that the profit from the book goes to assist needy college students in the purchase of textbooks. Of course, as far as I know Dershowitz has never made the payment that he promised for finding factual errors in The Case for Israel.

Dershowitz did not present any new ideas in his talk. He merely made frequent claim that the vast majority of reasonable Palestinians accept the self-evident rationality of his two-state plan. After reading the five basic elements of Dershowitz' framework for peace (p. 2, The Case for Peace), no one should be surprised that he is unable to provide the name of any Palestinian that agrees with him.

Here are elements 2 and 5 (the quote marks belong to Dershowitz):

2. Some symbolic recognition of the rights of Palestinian "refugees," including a compensation package and some family reunification, but no absolute "right of return" to Israel of the millions of descendants of those who claim refugee status -- a questionable "right" whose exercise would produce the great wrong of returning the Jewish state into yet another Muslim Arab state. All Palestinians should have the right to "return" to what will become the Palestinian state.

5. An end to the singling out of Israel for demonization and delegitimation -- and to the hatred directed against the Jewish state and its citizens and supporters -- by international organizations, many academics, religious leaders, and media pundits; and the normalization and acceptance of Israel as a full and equal member of the international community.

Dershowitz' bigoted refusal to acknowledge that ethnic Ashkenazi Eastern Europeans uprooted the native Palestinian population when they stole pre-1967 Israel makes it impossible for him to use the term refugees without quote marks.

Dershowitz' peace proposal reduces to forcing the ethnically cleansed Palestinian population to forfeit basic human rights of property and residence and to find homes elsewhere while murderous genocidal racist thieves and interlopers go unpunished, and the rest of us are not even allowed to discuss the villainy of Dershowitz, of his fellow racist Ashkenazi Americans and of murderous militaristic Zionist colonizers, who routinely use Palestinian children for target practice (according to the casualty statistics supplied by Israeli and non-Israeli human rights organizations). His case for "peace" is to put all Palestinian non-Jews in open-air prisons surrounded by tanks and checkpoints. His "peace" is that all non-Jews in the US and in Palestine should accept second-class status to Jews and let Jews dictate governmental policy, in spite of popular opinion.

When Dershowitz elaborates his solution, he consistently places the onus of the conflict on the native population, whose democratic right to self-determination (by American standards) was thwarted by the British Mandate for Palestine with the connivance of the racist Zionist leadership. He insinuates that the native Palestinian population is guilty of some sort of original sin for rebelling against Zionist colonization, for ineffectively seeking aid from the Germans during the 40s -- something the Zionists did very effectively during the 30s, for very infrequently stating the facts of Zionist ethnic cleansing/re-folking (Umvolkung) in Palestinian Authority textbooks(*), and for reacting violently to Zionist depredations during the post-1967 occupation. Occasionally, Dershowitz admits flaws in Zionist behavior (like the "relatively minor" prejudice and bigotry found in Zionist textbooks). Yet he is certain of the moral superiority of ethnic Ashkenazim and Zionist colonizers, and Dershowitz asserts that in response to every violent act that Palestinians commit (almost invariably in reaction to some Zionist outrage) Israel has the right (or maybe even the absolute obligation) to steal even more land in addition to the lands that Zionist colonizers stole in 1947-8. The Zionist occupation forces generally do much worse than steal more land. They shoot up towns, bomb residences, kill civilians, destroy farmland, and wall up towns. The situation in the Occupied Territories approximates Nazi-Occupied Poland just before the mass murders began.

While discussing Finkelstein, Dershowitz made a very obscure claim that he really did not justify collective punishment against Palestinians of the sort that German Nazis applied to the Czech village of Lidice, and he also tried to prove that he really was not anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian because he intervened with the Harvard administration (Lawrence Summers?) so that student organizations would be able to fly a Palestinian flag on Harvard campus last winter.

Dershowitz expects his readership to overlook the vicious murderous Eastern European völkisch racism that underlies the Dershowitzian ideas, argument and proposal. While American Poles, American Italians and Americans of other ethnic groups generally do not exploit America for the sake of tribalism, racist ethnic Ashkenazim like Dershowitz and his Harvard colleages, Lawrence Summers and Ruth Wisse, have no problem with the sacrifice of American lives, values and principles for the sake of Dershowitz' Jewish-exceptionalist world view.

Rarely does Dershowitz allude to the anger of the whole world against the US for pandering racist ethnic Ashkenazi Americans in supporting Israel. Can anyone take the US government seriously when the US proclaims support for democracy, anti-racism, and human rights but supports a perverted criminal ideology like Zionism, which is inherently antidemocratic, racist and opposed to the very concept of human rights?

Dershowitz made a point of condemning the Somerville Divestment Project (SDP) for singling out Israel, parroting the empty rhetoric of the subversive Boston Israel Lobby (CJRC). Apparently unaware of the popular spirit and history of Somerville, which has divested from other human rights abusers in the past, Dershowitz did not explain how undermining American democracy would lead to "peace" in the middle east, nor did he explain why he thought that Americans should be forced against their will to pay for Israel's existence.

Dershowitz' reply to a questioner during the discussion period betrays the true nature of Dershowitz' "solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The attendee, who claimed to have worked in Israel for the last decade and to have witnessed many human rights violations, pointed out that the organized Jewish community and many individual American Jewish scholars have condemned American individuals and corporations for being invested in 1930s Germany, which was a human rights violator not much different from Israel today. He concluded by asking Dershowtiz whether it was wrong to reject a standard for Israel that Jews want to apply to non-Jews. Dershowitz rather lamely replied that Israel was not like Nazi Germany and therefore should be exempted from the human rights yardstick. Dershowitz accords to Israel a privileged status that excludes it from the scrutiny of non-Jews. Dershowitz's answer is a good summary of the book, whose whole purpose is a justification for preserving the privileges of Jews shamelessly continuing to live on stolen Palestinian property.

Are the only parties to the conflict the native Palestinian population and the criminal Zionist colonizers or should we all perhaps be asking whether an ethnic fundamentalist state whose ideology differs little from that of 1930s Germany (except for the obvious ethnic substitutions) should be permitted to exist in the twenty-first century? The US destroyed Baathist Iraq in a matter of weeks. The US could probably abolish the Zionist state of Israel in a similar timeframe with no comparable negative consequences and at much lower cost.

Dershowitz made it clear several times during his talk that he reserves special enmity for intellectuals like Tony Judt, Norman G. Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky and Susan Blackwell, who specifically work to undermine the legitimacy of the racist ethnic Ashkenazi exceptionalist mindset. There is probably an element of self-preservation in Dershowitz' hatred of these people. If the anti-exceptionalist point of view becomes dominant in the USA, Dershowitz, Summers, Wisse and their intellectual bedfellows could find themselves in Guantanamo, where they could be interrogated or tortured according to Dershowitzian principles to determine the extent of their anti-American conspiracy to support Zionist terrorism.

(*) PA textbooks rarely deal with the issue at all. Dershowitz does not read Arabic and is simply repeating the standard Zionist disinformation and demonization that racist ethnic Ashkenazim disseminate in the USA. See for a scholarly study of Palestinian textbooks.


Congregation Eitz Chayim's Adult Education series continues Sunday, September 18, from 10:30-12 noon (come early for bagels and coffee) with Alan Dershowitz speaking on his latest book, "The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can be Resolved." President Bill Clinton has this to say about Prof. Dershowitz's new book: "The simple chord that resonates through the complex scenarios described in The Case for Peace is one of decency and respect -- for Palestinians, for Israelis, and, ultimately, for humanity itself. . . Hopeful and wise, the blueprint for stability presented in this book is among the best in recent years." Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a leading appellate lawyer in the defense of individual liberties. His many books include The Case for Israel (2003), the #1 New York Times bestseller Chutzpah, and The Vanishing American Jew. His talk is cosponsored by Porter Square Books as part of the new Cambridge Jewish Community Authors Series. After Prof. Dershowitz's presentation, all are invited to stay for coffee and good conversation with Eitz Chayim leaders and members, to learn about our long-time Cambridge non-denominational, egalitarian community, children's school, celebrations, membership, and more! Eitz Chayim is located at 136 Magazine Street, Cambridge (in Cambridgeport). For more information, call, email us, or visit our website. All are welcome!

136 Magazine Street Cambridge MA
617-497-7626 info (at)
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The sound of the hammer hitting the nail on the head.
28 Sep 2005
Thank you for this excellent piece and for your presense at this event. It is absoultely astonishing the scale and reach of zionism in our society today. You made some good points. Its true zionists believe that jews cant be racist and that only non jews are racist.

Thanks again and please keep up the great work!
Re: Alan Dershowitz's Insinuation and Omission
28 Sep 2005
You people are just pissed that the Jews once again have their own state where they are the majority and therefore can protect their people from the repeated attempts to murder their children and exterminate their people.

The arabs have had the oprotunity to repeatedly live in peace with their Jewish neighbors but have constantly choosen to initiate violence and have been doing it to the Jews before the UN declaired that the Jews once again had a right to statehood.
Re: Alan Dershowitz's Insinuation and Omission
28 Sep 2005
Jews " are the majority" because they violently expelled and exterminated Arab inhabitants and continue to do so up to the present moment. Palestinians have no state where they can protect themselves from "repeated attempts to murder their children and exterminate their people" by racist Jews. Jews were "initiating violence" and murdering Palestinians long before the UN declared (or even existed) that they had a "right to statehood" - an unfulfilled right they also extended to Palestinians. At no time has the UN ever recognized any right to continued military occupation of territory outside recognized national borders. You can ask Dershowitz about this tonight when he rears his ugly head at the Harvard COOP @ 7:00pm.
Re: Alan Dershowitz's Insinuation and Omission
29 Sep 2005
Like it or not, Israel is the only thing close to a democracy in the Middle East. No doubt that Israel has committed human rights abuses, but the people who oppse her in the mid-east will not be happy until the total extinction of Israel occurs.... BTW, I don't roll on the Shabass!
Re: Alan Dershowitz's Insinuation and Omission
29 Sep 2005
3,000 years of beautiful traditions can not ignored !
Re: Alan Dershowitz's Insinuation and Omission
29 Sep 2005
Israel makes a mockery of the concept of "democracy". It is a democracy for chauvinist Jews only. All others need not apply. And yes, it's true, anyone who cares about human rights and meaningful democracy will not be happy until this institutional bigotry and all the horrors that accompany it become "extinct". And then hopefully, a new day can dawn with a pluralist - truly democratic - one state solution.
Re: Alan Dershowitz's Insinuation and Omission
30 Sep 2005
how about a no state solution? for the whole world. dare we dream?
Isreal Shall Survive
30 Sep 2005
I really really really wish that the US government would take the reins off of Israel. Israel should be allowed to defend itself by conquering the fascist muslim states that surround it and allow democracy to flourish.
30 Sep 2005
It's called a Typo. Deal with it.
Re: Alan Dershowitz's Insinuation and Omission
04 Oct 2005
when we remove the reins, can we also take back all the billions of dollars we've given them? seeing as how the american taxpayer is already so deep in the red, would it be too much to ask for Israel to borrow it's own money for its illegal settlements, and the costs of relocating the illegal settlers later?