Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Liar without borders

It's high time to devote a few lines to Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard and Bar Ilan, a former defense lawyer of celebrities like Mike Tyson (accused of rape) and O.J. Simpson (double murder), a self appointed defense lawyer for the Case of  Israel, about which he wrote a book with the same title, and one of the most skilled and thoroughly experienced liars of our time.    
 It's a miracle how Dershowitz, one way or other, manages to be constantly in the news these days. Hardly has he refused Benyamin Netanyahu's offer he was not supposed to refuse, namely to become Israels next representative (and defense lawyer?) at the United Nations  (check the Coteret blog, where you'll find a translation of a column in which author Meir Shalev wrote mocks this fact) or he attires attention because of the column he himself wrote in the Jerusalem Post about the bar mitzvah of Judge Goldstone's grandson in Johannesburg. Remember that Goldstone initially took the decision to stay away, because the Zionist Federtion of South-Africa intended to use the ocaasion to hold a demonstration against him?  In his column Deshowitz does not just twist the truth a bit, he compoletely turns it upside down. In his version it is not the South African Zionist Federation that politicized the occasion of this bar mitzva, oh no, it was judge Goldstone himself.
So now it turns out to be Richard Goldstone - author of the notorious Goldstone Report - who is politicizing his grandson's bar mitzvah. Jewish authorities in South Africa didn't "ban" Goldstone from the synagogue at which his grandson was being bar mitzvahed, as Goldstone and his supporters had alleged. A small group of protestors had said they would exercise their right of expression to picket Goldstone. Though they clearly had the right to do so, most Jews in South Africa and elsewhere - including me - were uncomfortable with the idea of picketing a grandfather attending his grandson's bar mitzvah. It was Goldstone who decided not to attend and instead to publicize the matter   
So far, so hypocritical and completely untrue. But this comes next:
The South Africa Board of Deputies have now persuaded the protestors to pick a different time and place to show their disdain for Goldstone. The matter should have been put to rest, with Goldstone quietly attending the bar mitzvah. But Goldstone won't let it go. He has attacked the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, who was instrumental in working out a compromise where the protests would be called off and Goldstone would agree to meet with Jewish leaders. Goldstone escalated the dispute by writing a letter to the local newspaper complaining that "the Chief Rabbi would so brazenly politicize the occasion of my 13-year-old grandson's bar mitzvah to engage in further personal attacks on me."
Here the distinguished defender of O.J.Simpson and Israel overlooks the fact that Goldstone wrote the letter BEFORE the Board of Deputies changed its mind and together with the chief rabbi decided to call the picked line off. Dershowitz continues:
But it was Goldstone who brazenly politicized the bar mitzvah by mischaracterizing the Chief Rabbi's statement and using it as an excuse to continue the controversy about the bar mitzvah. The alleged "personal attack" by the Chief Rabbi consisted of a statement that every synagogue "should welcome in a tolerant and nonjudgmental way all who seek to enter and join in our service and pray to God."
The Chief Rabbi also exercised his own freedom of speech to express his opinion - an entirely accurate one - that the Goldstone report "has unfairly done enormous damage to the reputation and safety of the State of Israel and her citizens."
Was the Chief Rabbi obligated to remain silent about the report until after the bar mitzvah? It would have been irresponsible of Rabbi Goldstein to say nothing in the face of the evil represented by the Goldstone report and its biased authors. Is it not enough that he curbed those who wanted to protest in front of the synagogue? It is Goldstone who is using his grandson's bar mitzvah as a shield against legitimate criticism, just as he has used his "jewishness" as a shield against criticism of the Goldstone report. 
 Oh yes, Goldstone, by his initial decision to stay away and not politicize his grandson's bar mitzva uses this bar mitzva as a shield against legitimate criticism.... Only with the pliable logic of someone who is so used to mold the facts as he sees fit that he completely lost sight of reality, might one reach a conclusion like that. But Dershowitz is not yet finished. Remember that the South African Board of Deputies changed its mind after a lot of publicity abroad, among which was a letter by over 30 rabbis? This is how Dershowitz qualifies them:
Goldstone has not complained about another group of rabbis who have politicized his grandson's bar mitzvah in an effort to support the Goldstone report and its mendacious conclusions. A group of rabbis, many of whom have long records of anti-Israel activism, authored a "Rabbinic letter" to Goldstone congratulating him on his grandson's bar mitzvah and using the occasion to make virulently anti-Israel claims, including the blood libel that Israel deliberately targeted innocent Palestinian civilians without any military purpose. (....) These "rabbis for Hamas" have no shame and no credibility. They exploit their rabbinical status to support any conclusion that undercuts self defense Israeli actions without regard to the evidence and without regard to the truth.
Not surprisingly, the worst of these rabbis (and that's saying a lot), Michael Lerner, after attempting to politicize the bar mitzvah by offering his anti-Israel synagogue for the event, has decided to honor Richard Goldstone with Tikkun Magazine's "Ethics Award." I guess all it takes to be honored by Tikkun is to pass Lerner's litmus test of lying about Israel.   
 The man is really completely out of his mind, a liar without borders. What is worrysome,  is that his words have an effect. After this publication in the Jerusalem Post, some people attacked the house of rabbi Lerner, left slogans on the walls and glued pamphlets to it with a powerfull glue.
Cartoon: Latuff)

And hardly had we digested this morally corrupt column in the Jerusalem Post, or there was the news that Dershowitz this past Saturday received a honorary degree from the University of Tel Aviv. Richard Silverstein translated the motivation of the university:  
Professor Dershowitz…is one of the truly great American lawyers…He receives this honor because of his reputation as a sterling jurist, a well-respected public figure, a true and dear friend of Israel, international authority in criminal law, for his twenty-year advocacy for civil and human rights and for being a fanatical defender of them, and for his hundreds of articles and books which merited wide distribution.
[He receives this honor] as a sign of appreciation for his passionate and convincing defense of the State of Israel in his books, his interviews in the international media and university campuses; and for his unique ability to fight anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism with sophisticated argumentation; and for his active and thought-provoking discussion of the Middle East conflict.
His thought-provoking discussion of the Middle East conflict? It is really more a way of discussion that raises the eyebrows, or rather someone's hairs. It suffices to visit the website of Norman Finkelstein - or read his book 'Beyond Chutzpah'  to see to what extend Dershowitz twisted the facts, plagiarized the notorious Joan Peters and her book 'From Time Immemorial' which is caraterized asl a worthless fraud by 99% of  academia, to realize the 'scientific' standards that Dershowitz represents. By reading his 'Case fo Israel', or  taking note of the way he slanders, distorts and manipulates facts, one start to understand how it was possible that he defended about 15 murderers in the US and got 13 of them off the hook, while at least a number of thme (he himself seems to have admitted that it was even 'most of them') were in fact guilty. And this is the kind of guy that the today's Israeli leaders deem fit to receive honorary doctorates or represent the country in fora like the United Nations...

And Dershowitz marches on. At a conference at Tel Aviv university on Tuesday he accused left wing Jewish intellectuals to slander Israel in such a way that it causes more harm than Islamic and pro-Palestinian movements. He called it 'legal terror' and a 'strategic threat' and he singled  out US intellectual Noam Chomsky as particularly dangerous because he creates a hostile atmosphere in the US and on American campuses. 

Dershowitz is really unbelievable, obnoxious, nauseating, someone who goes on and on, as indefatigable and  subtle as the bulldozers with which Israel builds its Sepration Barrier. It is a phenomenon and it is frightening, because deep down I'm convinced that he is merely a symptom of the deepening rift between right and what could be called liberal, enlightened/progressive/left within the Jewish communities. A rift that may already be beyond repair, or soon will be.

PS. The latest news in today's Haaretz is that about 80 staff members of Tel Aviv university in a letter to the university's president ask that the university distances itselfs fromt Dershowitz' speech on Saturday, at the acceptance of his honorary doctorate, in which he named  faculty members who, as he called it, hurted students and harmed the interests of the state. What specifically angered the academics was that he called two TAU-staffers (Anat Matar and Rachel Giora) by name. For more background see Jerry Haber's blog  

PS2. There was still one point I missed: Dershowitz in an interview with Israeli tv compared judge Goldstone to Joseph Mengele, th 'Angel of Dreath' at Auschwitz where he did the sections for the gas chambers, because Goldstone was an appeal judge in Soujt Africa during the apartheid era and in that quality  confirmed a number of death penealties. It probably isn't the finest page on Goldstone's curriculum, but compare him for that reason to Mengele is simply outrageous. Here is the video:

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