Harvard Law Professor Alan M. Dershowitz is that rare individual who is both a highly respected academic and well known to the general population.
But in another regard he is even rarer. He regards himself as a man of the left, yet on one of the defining moral issues of our time, attitudes toward Israel, he has nothing in common with the left. He is not only one of Israel’s staunchest supporters, he spends much of his time defending Israel. He has written innumerable articles and four books defending Israel: “The Case against Israel's Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace,” “The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved,” “The Case for Israel,” and “What Israel Means to Me: By 80 Prominent Writers, Performers, Scholars, Politicians, and Journalists.”
This past week, Dershowitz wrote two eloquent columns defending Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza. One was titled “Israel, Hamas, and Moral Idiocy,” published in the Christian Science Monitor and the other, “Israel's Policy Is Perfectly ‘Proportionate,’” was published in the Wall Street Journal.
In his Monitor column, Dershowitz describes “three types of international response to the Israeli military actions against the Hamas rockets” -- “Iran, Hamas, and other knee-jerk Israeli-bashers,” “the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, and others who, at least when it comes to Israel, see a moral and legal equivalence between terrorists who target civilians and a democracy that responds by targeting the terrorists,” and “the United States and a few other nations that place the blame squarely on Hamas.”
It is relevant to the question I will pose that he omits any mention of the world’s left, even when mentioning the European Union. Who exactly in the European Union is condemning Israel? Its conservatives? Who in America is condemning Israel? Conservatives? Who in Australia or Canada? Conservatives? Of course not. As regards Israel (and America and much else), the Western world’s moral idiots, to use the term in the title of the Dershowitz column, are virtually all on the left, including and especially many of his colleagues in academia.
So, I have a question for my friend Dershowitz. (I say ‘friend’ because we’ve known each other for years and debated and dialogued together.)