Alan Dershowitz: The Relentless Israeli Apologist

On January 4th 2008, I happened to stumble across CNN’s Larry King, who was mediating a debate between a fairly moderate representative of the Arab American institute, James Zogby, and the relentless Israeli apologist, Alan Dershowitz.

Needless to say, the 1400 or so Palestinians who had suffered the fate rhetorically sanitized under the rubric, ‘collateral damage,’ were not the victims of the Israelis, according to the logic of Dershowitz; rather, they were victims of Hamas.

After all, Hamas members failed to extricate themselves from the densely populated territory, wherein Hamas provided social services, in order to line up in some type of military formation, so that they would become the unmistakable target for the Israelis. Therefore, the mounting civilian casualties were the fault of Hamas, because the organization neglected to cooperate with its adversaries.

Never mind the fact that it was the Israelis who dropped the bombs – destroying all sorts of Palestinian institutions, such as the university, various government edifices, including the Ministry of Culture; and numerous domestic dwellings that happened to be located next to the residencies of Hamas officials, whom the Israelis have been assassinating through the use of missiles.

When questioned about the year-long embargo, which has been waged by the Israelis, preventing humanitarian aid from entering the besieged territory, Dershowitz indicated that Israel was not to blame. In order to understand the logic behind the claim leveled by Dershowitz, one must ignore every ostensible aspect to this situation, because one’s plain perceptions and commonsensical reasoning are obfuscated and circumvented by the polemic that Dershowitz has constructed.

I would compare Dershowitz’s argument to something stereotypically spouted by the abusive male in a dysfunctional heterosexual relationship. Similarly to the wife-beater who screams at the object of his physical abuse, “Why do you make me hurt you?” the illegal embargo is not the fault of the party that implements and maintains it; it is the fault of the victim, the Palestinian population.

According to the law professor, Dershowitz, the people of the Gaza Strip should overthrow their democratically elected leaders – who are members of the political section of Hamas – in order for the Israelis to accomplish their military-politico objectives, so that the Israelis can cease with their ongoing strangulation of the Palestinian population.

Finally, we come to the crescendo of Dershowitz’s apologia for the Israelis. The Professor from Harvard generalized the war being waged by the Israelis against the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip as embodying a struggle that all democratic nations face. Therefore, in order to ascertain the essence of the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, one must ignore the historical specificities that led to the current state of affairs.

Push aside and ignore the fact that the Israelis are colonists who have displaced millions of Palestinians from their traditional homeland. Forget about the hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese captives who are illegally held in extrajudicial limbo by the Israelis. Neglect to consider that the Israelis had suffered zero casualties, resulting from the missile attacks launched from Gaza, prior to the Israeli incursions, which have led to over 500 Palestinian deaths, including women and children.

According to Dershowitz, all of these facts are epiphenomena, and matter not at all when arriving at an understanding of the present situation. Dershowitz argues that this ongoing conflict is reducible to the following: A democracy defending itself against terrorism.

In response to Dershowitz, we can say, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Russell Cole is an Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Siena College and an ABD at the State University of New York at Albany. He studies political networking and third party movements in American society. He can be contacted at Read other articles by Russell, or visit Russell's website.

9 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar or bozh said on March 31st, 2009 at 8:29am #

    what dershowitz is saying is, as far as i know, mainstrem ruling- class’ thinking.
    the root cause for the obviously intentional stupidity, appears to be to me, that the hatred for and belittlement of palestinians is deeply embedded into rulers/despots’ cells, blood, and bones.

    and no amount of words, regardless how truthful, will erase all that hatred.
    of course, palestinians will retaliate in the same way; and having by far much more truth and justification, they wld succeed to hate those bastards more than palestinians are hated by them.

    and then come wmd. after that we may not encounter even one dershowitz. tnx

  2. opeluboy said on March 31st, 2009 at 5:01pm #

    Dershowitz is beneath contempt. It is a pity we live in a country where he is awarded pundit status. But then it makes perfect sense when you realize who owns all the networks he appears on.

  3. Michael said on March 31st, 2009 at 5:41pm #

    Russell Cole: The Relentless Hamas Apologist

    I have always found Dershowitz’ comments to be well thought out and documented. I don’t see any documentation in Cole’s article. And Dershowitz is not an apologist for Israel. He has criticized Israel on several occasions. Try reading his writings sometime before you make stupid comments.

    But this article is a joke. 1400 dead Gazans is an overestimation based on Hamas lies. Israel has documented that the actual figure is less, and that the majority of dead were combatants. I have seen no documentation from Hamas.

    Israel destroyed “all sorts of Palestinian institutions, such as the university, various government edifices, including the Ministry of Culture; and numerous domestic dwellings. . . .” It is not mentioned that these institutions doubled as military instillations making them legitimate military targets.

    “Push aside and ignore the fact that the Israelis are colonists who have displaced millions of Palestinians from their traditional homeland.” Now this statement is way off the historical record. There were a few hundred thousand Arabs misplaced by Israel’s founding, which is about one Arab for every two Jews who were misplaced by what was in reality a regional conflict in 1948. Land taken since then had been the result of defensive war. It was Egypt and Syria which started the 1967 war, with Jordan helping out with an unprovoked attack. Go back and read the historical accounts. Furthermore, there has never been a nation called “Palestine.” The historical record, which seems not to matter to Israel’s critics, shows that there has been a consistent Jewish presence in the land for 3000 years.

    “According to the law professor, Dershowitz, the people of the Gaza Strip should overthrow their democratically elected leaders .” You mean democratically elected leaders who attack and kill their political opponents, call for genocide against both Israelis and Jews (I have read Hamas’ propaganda), and care so little for their people that they would rather spend their wealth trying to destroy Israel rather than build their own economy. Hitler was also elected. The Hamas leadership is cut from the same fascist cloth.

  4. dino said on March 31st, 2009 at 9:44pm #

    “Debate” it is impossible when Hamas and all the Gaza people were called “terrorist”.Joseph Zogby had not to take part in a such debate.He said,during the “debate”, that he can not defend Hamas.But that had been the first task for him:Hamas was an elected organization by the Gazan people and a people could not be called terrorist.
    Dershowitz is a poor propagandist and he chose,as usual,to make the Israelis the side who suffer and who only responses to Hamas provocations.Here is a method.A time ago Itzhak Shamir,then Israeli’s prime-minister said “to lie is a disgusting habit,but to lie for Eretz Israel is not”.Yesterday Nathaniahu was sworn as prime-minister.He asked “The Arabs” in his speech:”Are you serious on peace?The peace could be reached”.Uri Avnery explains what follow:”FROM THE beginnings of Zionism, its leaders have known that their vision necessitates a large measure of make-belief….
    Now the task is to present to the world, and especially the US and Europe, a false picture, pretending that our new government is yearning for peace, acting for peace, indeed turning every stone in search of peace – while doing the exact opposite. The world will be submerged by a deluge of declarations and promises, accompanied by lots of meaningless gestures, conferences and meetings”.What in Hebrew is called “full gas in without move”.But little moves will be done:a settlement here an other there and a huge pressure for all the world to be fully aware on Iranian danger.

  5. EMD said on April 1st, 2009 at 1:10am #

    Funny how all “dissidents” seem to think exactly the same on this comment board. Well-done. Let’s see, the Palestinnians voted en masse for a terrorist group whose official charter calls for the murder of Jews (not Israelis, but Jews). Hamas says it refuses to ever recognize Israel’s existence. Hamas (along with others) had been firing missiles and rockets at Israel’s Southern population for more than 8 years. And then when Israel conducts a military opp. to stop this firing, she is the bad guy? Yeah, that sounds logical….

  6. EMD said on April 1st, 2009 at 1:14am #

    “Neglect to consider that the Israelis had suffered zero casualties, resulting from the missile attacks launched from Gaza”

    This is an incorrect fact that reflects your bias and hatred of Israel.

    “According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since the beginning of this year alone, 694 rockets have fallen on Sderot. In the last seven years, 13 people, including three children have been killed and 900 have been injured.”

    Surely you will correct this article, since dissidents are known for their love of truth and justice, and not the spreading of lies and propaganda. Seems like you are just a tool of the Palestinian govt. (which I guess is so much better than being a tool of a Western govt).

  7. bozhidar or bozh said on April 1st, 2009 at 7:28am #

    even hitler cld have asserted that he or germany was right in starting ww2, commiting atrocities by simply positing only a few facts.
    this is what all defenders of israeli crimes, some of which are unprecendented, assidiously do.
    and also dwell exclusively on palestinian faults, real and imagined.
    a socialist like me abhors islam as much judaism and christianity. killing civilians is not only a crime but is also against the interest of the palestinian people.
    a democratic gov’t must obtain permission thru a referendum to fire qassams at civilians. if that had been done, the majority of pals might have said NO!
    on the other hand, ab. 95% of the israelis and US gov’t applauded killing civilians. more cld be said. tnx

    if hamas will not allow it, one is not justified to kill their civilians. tnx

  8. dino said on April 1st, 2009 at 11:17am #

    I think that James Zogby would have to say about Hamas ,in the debate with Dershowitz at least what Ephraim HaLevy,the former director of Mossad, said before the op :”Halevy believes that Israel should take up Hamas’s offer of a long-term truce and try negotiating, because the Islamic movement is respected by Palestinians and generally keeps its word, he said. He pointed to the cease-fire in attacks on Israel that Hamas declared two years ago and has largely honored. “They’re not very pleasant people, but they are very, very credible,” Halevy said.

    Or he could answer about the refuse of Hamas to recognize Israel with the help of Steven Shalom:9. How could Hamas be a partner for peace? Didn’t they refuse the three U.S.-Israeli conditions: that they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and agree to accept all agreements previously accepted by the Palestinian Authority?

    Hamas has indeed refused these three conditions, but no more so than Israel and the United States have done.

    Hamas has not recognized Israel, but Israel and the United States have not recognized an independent Palestinian state.

    Consider General Assembly resolution 63/165 that was adopted on December 18, 2008. The resolution reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to an independent State of Palestine, and further urged all States and United Nations entities to continue to support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination. The resolution passed by the overwhelming vote of 173 in favor and 5 opposed, with 7 abstentions. The five nay votes were the United States, Israel, and three tiny U.S.-dependent Pacific island nations.[17]

    Of course, Israel may say that it is willing to accept a Palestine state, just not on the 1967 borders, and indeed so long as it is confined to a tiny swath of unviable territory. But if Hamas returned the favor, saying it was willing to recognize Israel, but only if it were confined to Tel Aviv and its suburbs, one doubts Israel and the United States would consider that adequately forthcoming.

  9. Russell Cole said on April 1st, 2009 at 5:42pm #

    In response to Michael who claims that Israel started the 1967 war, I would suggest purchasing a highschool level historical textbook. It was Israel that struck first, and I hope you waist considerable time trying to refute this fact.
    Next you refute the number of casaulties reported by Hamas. I would entertain this prospect, if it was not for Israel preventing any foreign press from entering the besieged terrority. If Israel is the good guy in this conflict, then what did they have to hide? Please answer, because I am bursting with curiousity.

    And, finally, if it were only a few hundred thousand Palestinains who suffered the diaspora of 1948, (as if a few hundred thousand is an insignificant number), then why does Israel deny them the right to return?

    Israel is in violation of innumerable international laws. In fact, I should mention that colonists do not have rights with which to begin, so in reality any argument based upon rockets being launched against Israeli colonial outposts is spurious and possesses no legal standing in the first place.