Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alan Dershowitz Hammers another Nail into the State of Israel’s Coffin

There are few people who labor so intensively, day in and day out, to delegitimize the State of Israel as does Prof. Alan Dershowitz. With each passing year, he surpasses himself in defending policies that have made Israel a pariah state for much of the world. After calling Richard Goldstone a traitor and likening him to Dr. Mengele, the publicity-seeking Dershowitz was awarded an honorary doctorate by Tel-Aviv University – not in front of any graduating class, since it is unlikely that he would have been able to escape unscathed, but in front of the donors that Tel Aviv university needs to keep the university afloat, given that the State of Israel, and financial mismanagement, have already pared the university to the bone.

The Tel Aviv University administration is not stupid. It announced on Friday that Dershowitz would be responding on behalf of the other recipients, and gave him the award Saturday night in a closed meeting with the Board of Governors and other recipients. His one other speech at Tel Aviv university will not be open to the public.

And what did he say? You can listen to it here. First he gave a stirring defense of the rights of the professors at Tel Aviv University to be wrong, unpatriotic, and attack Israel. But – and here came the lawyer tricks – he maintained that there is an equal right of those who do not agree with them to express their views. (Who said there wasn't?) And there is also right of students not to be penalized by disagreeing with these enemies of Israel. (Who says they are being penalized?) He claimed, wrongly, that the protest early this year against Tel Aviv U Law School for hiring a legal apologist for the IDF involved suppressing her free speech. (To do this he relied on a particularly awful piece by Shomo Avineri; for more on that incident see here.)

And then came the "When-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife" line:

"Free speech for me but not for thee," as Professors Matar, Giora and others express every day, is the beginning of the road to tyranny. (applause)

Excuse me? Where did that come from? Not from anything those two professors said. Well, here is the back-story: Profs. Anat Matar and Rachel Giora support the academic boycott of Israeli institutions of higher learning for their role in the Occupation. Some Jewish donors to Tel Aviv University want them fired. Prof. Joseph Klafter, the president of the university can't do that. See the exchange between Klafter and a member of his board that appeared a few months ago in the Jerusalem Post here.

That is where Alan Dershowitz, Hired Gun, enters. He probably was invited by TAU to put on a show for the donors – explaining to them the importance of free speech, blah, blah, blah, and then satisfying their "blood thirst" by insinuating lies about Matar and Giora. Any idiot knows that calling for an academic boycott, whether you approve of the idea or not, has nothing to do with curtailing academic freedom or censoring speech or "McCarthy-like tactics" One might as well say that cutting off donations to the university curtails academic freedom (It doesn't.)

Fortunately, Dershowitz's performance was enough to arouse the ire of decent members of the faculty at Tel-Aviv University. Please read their letter below, signed, inter alia, by moderate, liberal Zionists. They appeal to Prof. Klafter to dissociate himself from Dershowitz's slander of Matar and Giora.

No way that will happen. TAU has too much money to lose.

Here is the letter, in Didi Remez's rough translation (thanks, Didi):

To Professor Joseph Klafter, President of Tel Aviv University

Dear Professor Klafter,

We the undersigned, members of the General History Dept at Tel Aviv University, heard in full the speech of Mr. Alan Dershowitz in the name of the Honorary Doctorate recipients as broadcasted live on video.

As Historians who know very well the periods of the past where the enlightened democracy declined into a dark regime, we are very concerned with some of the things said. Mr. Dershowitz viciously attacked academic members of the university criticizing the policy of the government, he specifically named some members of staff and accused them for leading narrow-minded thinking as they impose their opinions on students (and he compared it to sexual harassment).

As you know there is no scrap of proof that member of staff imposed his/her political opinions on students.

Mr. Dershowitz is allowed, of course, to enjoy the freedom of speech and to express his opinions, but the fact he named lecturers and accused them of hurting students and of hurting the strength of the State of Israel - These words are on the verge of defamation and may put those members of staff at risk.

We ask you, as the university administration to renounce the words of Mr. Dershowitz and to announce it will continue to protect the freedom of speech of all members of our academic community in any way. As you wrote in your article in the Jerusalem Post in 15th of February 2010, the university must protect the freedom of thinking and freedom of expression of members of staff and students.

Bad winds blow these days in Israel and in the West in general, which are anti-Intellectual and anti-Democratic. The universities are - as you said - the beacons protecting from them. Negation of some views or others and the attack on those expressing them, from the podium of the university destabilize such protective walls.

We are sure you will find a way for the university administration to renounce those words of Mr. Alan Dershowitz.


Prof. Gadi Algazi, Dr. Nitzan Leibovich, Prof. Miri Eliav-Feldon, Dr. Gerardo Leibner, Prof. Benny Arbel, Prof. Ron Barkai, Yossi Malley, Dr. Michael Zakim, Prof. Eyal Naveh, Dr. Amnon Yuval, Dr. Rachel Feig Vishnia, Prof. David Katz, Dr. Alon Rachamimov

Since last night, the following faculty members have joined their signature (33 names are appended)


פרופ` גדי אלגזי ד`ר ניצן ליבוביץ

פרופ` מירי אליאב-פלדון ד`ר חררדו לייבנר

פרופ` בני ארבל

פרופ` רון ברקאי פרופ` יוסי מאלי

ד`ר מיכאל זכים פרופ` אייל נווה

ד`ר אמנון יובל ד`ר רחל פייג וישניא

פרופ` דוד כ`ץ ד`ר אלון רחמימוב

דבר מכתבנו נודע במהירות, ומאז אמש החלו אנשי סגל מחוגים אחרים בפקולטה למדעי הרוח ומפקולטות אחרות לבקש להצטרף לחותמים :

פרופ` ישראל גרשוני, החוג להיסטוריה של המזה`ת

פרופ` איימי סינגר, החוג להיסטוריה של המזה`ת

פרופ` ענת בילצקי, החוג לפילוסופיה

פרופ` מרסלו דסקל, החוג לפילוסופיה

פרופ` אלי פרידלנדר, החוג לפילוסופיה

פרופ` גליה פת-שמיר, החוג לפילוסופיה

פרופ` עדי אופיר, המכון להיסטוריה ולפילוסופיה של המדעים

ד`ר סנאית גיסיס, המכון להיסטוריה ולפילוסופיה של המדעים

פרופ` רבקה פלדחי, המכון להיסטוריה ולפילוסופיה של המדעים

פרופ` משה צוקרמן, המכון להיסטוריה ולפילוסופיה של המדעים

פרופ` ליאו קורי, המכון להיסטוריה ולפילוסופיה של המדעים

פרופסור מיכאל גלוזמן, החוג לספרות

ד`ר יעל לבוא, החוג לספרות

ד`ר אורלי לובין, החוג לספרות

ד`ר סמדר שיפמן, החוג לספרות

פרופ` ישעיהו שן, החוג לספרות

פרופ` מירה אריאל, החוג לבלשנות

פרופ`` אלחנן ריינר, החוג להיסטוריה של עם ישראל

פרופ` זאב הרצוג, החוג לארכיאולוגיה ותרבויות המזרח הקדום

פרופ` אבנר בן-עמוס, בית-הספר לחינוך

פרופ` דניאל בר-טל, בית-הספר לחינוך

פרופ` זהר איתן, הפקולטה לאמנויות

פרופ` בן-ציון מוניץ, הפקולטה לאמנויות

פרופ` ג`אד נאמן, הפקולטה לאמנויות

פרופ` חנה טרגן, הפקולטה לאמנויות

פרופ` פרדי רוקם, הפקולטה לאמנויות

פרופ` אורי הדר, החוג לפסיכולוגיה

פרופ` תלמה הנדלר, החוג לפסיכולוגיה והפקולטה לרפואה

פרופ` יהושע צאל, החוג לפסיכולוגיה

פרופ` דנה רון, הפקולטה להנדסה

פרופ` צבי מזא`ה, אסטרונומיה

פרופ` חיים גנז, הפקולטה למשפטים

ד`ר דניאל דור, החוג לתקשורת




pabelmont said...

Prof Dershowitz and others have been attacking accademic freedom in USA universities for quite a while now, and university President (and law school Dean) at Columbia university have shown surprisingly anti-academic and anti-legal attitudes recently -- presumably with an eye on monetary donations.

What is the use of wealth if you cannot use it to control universities, you imagine people (wealthy people, of course) saying; and what is the use of having a powerful military if you cannot attack those you are pleased to call your enemies, whether they have attacked you or not (we imagine militarists in USA and Israel saying).

Well, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely; and so it appears. Absolutely.oicu

Anonymous said...

Alan Dershowitz has done more to support Israel than any other person in the U.S. His arguments make the left quiver and run. They retreat to ad hominem attacks and logical fallacies. For example, Dershowitz has stated that he is againt the occupation, yet the writer of this blog quotes him as doing more to harm Israel as a "pariah" state than anyone else. The author of this blog supports goldstone and his cohorts of Hamas backing stooges that ran around gaza interviewing "credible" witnesses (with hamas in the background). Yet all Israeli testimony is incredulous. Indeed, today it obvious to me how there were Judenrat in WW2

Eric said...

Didn't things like this happen when Martin Heidegger was made rector of Freiburg University?

Y. Ben-David said...

I know you "progressives" keep claiming that Israel is a "pariah" state and "the most hated state in the world". Of course, none of this is true, what you all mean is that it is hated and a pariah BY THOSE WHOSE OPINIONS COUNT....i.e. by you "progressives", who are a small minority in the world.
I am sure how you saw a couple of days ago that Israel was unanimously admitted to the OECD even though the Palestinians lobbied against it.
I am also sure you noticed that our Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who is also a pariah in your eyes, is having a nice visit to Japan, one of the economic powers of the world. As I have stated before here...most people in the world (outside of most BUT NOT ALL Muslim countries-Israel has good relations with Muslim countries like Albania and Azerbaijan) don't care about the Palestinians and view the Arab-Israeli conflict as one of those intractable problems that can't be solved and so they are prepared to move on and do business with us.

Regarding Dershowitz....he is what we call in Israel a "yehudi cham"-A warm Jew and a Zionist. He loves Israel even though he is too far to the Left for me. But these wars between academics get far too personal for me and I don't imagine many people pay much attention to them. You, Jerry, as a academic think these battles are important, but the rest of us turn down the volume and ignore them.

Jerry Haber said...

Y. Ben David, we have had this conversation before. It is now my turn to say that if Israel was so sure of its super-power start-up-nation status and acceptibility in the world (Greece is also in the OECD, is it not?) it wouldn't spend so much of its resources trashing Goldstone, hasbara, etc. It wouldn't over-react to every tiny hiccup of the BDS campaign. It wouldn't need an overbloated AIPAC; it wouldn't need to bash Israeli academics, and, finally, you wouldn't be reading this blog.

I have never heard of a country that worries more about its image than Israel. You say that it shouldn't. Fine -- you may be right.

So why does it?

Jerry Haber said...

By the way, people say about me that I am yehudi ham. I certainly will say about Richard Silverstein and Phil Weiss that they are yehudim hamim. What does that have to do with it? Yehudim who are not hamim are not reading this blog.

Y. Ben-David said...

A "Yehudi Cham" is someone who has a lot of Ahavat Israel EVEN IF THEY HAVE DISSENTING OPINIONS. When is the last time you, RabbiBrant Rosen or Richard Silverstein wrote anything positive about Israel or the Jews living there (and I don't mean just the people who demonstrate at Bil'in, Sheikh Jarrah or refuse to serve in the IDF because they oppose "the occupation")? RabbiBrant finally addressed this question regarding his blog, so at least the question bothers him.

Your writings remind me of Yossi Sarid and Yeshayahu Leibowitz. Sarid also has nothing good to say about anyone who disagrees with him. Simply that they are all stupid. I recall Leibowitz was interviewed on TV before Rosh HaShana and they asked him how the situation was. He replied "very, very bad". As usual.
I just read a biography of a famous anti-Zionist "gadol". The book kept emphasizing there are three kinds of Jews in the world....evil Jews, stupid Jews and the handful of Jews who followed this "gadol". So your statements (like that in the thread following this) that the Jews came to this beautiful Arab country and despoiled it (you commented in the past how nice the Arabs towns are and how ugly those of the Jews are) show you have the same mentality. The mass aliyah of Jews is simply a blight in your eyes. Bernard Avishai has repeatedly said similar things...to him Zionism is living in a socialist community in a vast, empty desert. The elite, all left to themselves with no rabble to bother them. He also commented how his friend, the late Amos Elon couldn't stand most Jews. He picked up and left when he ceased to be a celebrity in the country.

I also see a lot of the "progressive" mentality at TPMCafe. There, those who oppose MJ Rosenberg and the others there are rountinely dismissed as ignormauses, fascists or racists.

It has been very enlightening, and actually encouraging, for to me to see how all you "progressives" think and it gives me food for thought as how to reach the average "yehudi cham" in the street with my ideas.

bacci40 said...

im sorry, but prof dershowitz was totally correct in calling these cowards out.

those who wish to call for an academic boycott of israeli institutions should have the courage of their convictions....and resign.

they wont.

as for goldstone, since you allege that you are a frum yid, and unlike people like silverstein, finkelstein and chomsky, occasionally ask a rav to paskin for you...why dont you ask a rav if goldstone indeed has the din of being a moser.

but calling him mengele was beyond the pale. for mengele never claimed he was following orders...he loved what he did.

of course, im sure goldstone loved sentencing black south africans to the lash and death too. so maybe the comparison really wasnt that off...despite goldstone's protestations that he was just following orders.