Mohammad of Vancouver:
The real and material world changes in many ways on a regular basis. Things go up, then they go down, and then they go up again. Every phenomenon, even a solid piece of rock, shows the signs of change over time. But in our vast universe, one thing always remains the same both in quality and quantity. This eternally unchangeable thing is Alan Dershowitz’s expression of love and support for Israel.
Dershowitz’s insistence that Israel always acts with the highest moral standards and therefore is right remains outside of the natural law. We all know no one, even god, can always be right. So how is it that Israel surpasses god when it comes to right and wrong?
It’s not just the natural law that is questioned by Dershowitz’s position, since his magical consistency also defies logic, morality and the sense of vision that form the basis of our humanity. He seems to have managed to compel his audience to weigh what is clear to their eyes against his completely lunatic understanding of the situation, managing to convince a lot of people to abandon the obvious visual evidence, and compel the rest to at least keep questioning their own eyes and their own judgment against his claims.
Pretty amazing given that we hardly ever mistrust our eyes.
How does Dershowitz do this?
For one thing, he is a lawyer. He makes a living defending suspects whose questionable behavior has not yet been legally defined as a crime. And Dershowitz is a successful lawyer which means he has gotten a lot of his clients out of the hook with his brilliant skills. For him, Israel is both just another client and at the same time the most client ever. Regardless of whether he receives money for the work he has been doing for his master client Israel or not, he needs this case as a permanently defining challenge that gives meaning to his other legal work, being his teaching at Harvard Law School, or defending his typical clients.
But things have started to change. Since the election of Obama and the recent Israeli pogrom in Gaza, it is hard to look at Dershowitz and take him seriously. The clarity with which America has articulated the desire for change, and the brutality that the Jewish State’s army has used on Palestinians, make Dershowitz’s act less and less like a legal show and more and more like a drag show.
Today Dershowitz’s act is comparable to and better understood in the context of queer culture’s most theatrical performative strategy. In the drag show, a gay man finds balance between his reality of being a man and his desire to be a woman. A drag show is not only entertaining, but it’s an empowering tool in negotiating between conflicting identities. I personally love drag shows and am always up front watching the performers act out their female fantasies.
How can one compare Alan Dershowitz to a Drag Queen? For one he is an American universalist pretending to be an Israeli exceptionalist. Just as the drag performer exaggerates the opposite gender role, Dershowitz’s defense of Israel is even more intense than the same performance by Real Israeli officials. Drag queens dress and act more feminine than most women, so Dershowitz is more pro Israeli than Israel itself. At the same time, Dershowitz is too civilized to be the pilot who recklessly bombs people’s homes. Dershowitz is too liberal to personally shoot at civilians from a tank. And so his intense support for these policies points to a fantasy rather than reality.
The drag queen can only fantasize life as a woman, and Dershowitz only fantasizes his absolute support for racist discrimination, war crimes and now pogroms. Later he can change clothes and return to his civilized self when his pro Israeli show is over. Over at the supermarket… down the aisle in the coffee shop… Alan is a polite and considerate American who respects people in a usually dignified American manner.
If Dershowitz is really that pro Israel, why doesn’t he move to israel? I bet he could be the state’s attorney general under any government, if not its president. But all of us can understand, he loves his life in the American dream. He who cannot endorse equal rights for Palestinians want to revel in the new American diversity. He is even a fan of Obama. Don’t mix up a drag queen with a transgendered person going through a sexual transformation. And Alan too should not be mixed up with a Jewish person who makes the aliyah and joins the armed settler groups in the occupied territories. Like a drag queen, Alan’s act points to the complex set of psychological machinations rather than a decision to be an Israeli.
And what about us, the audience? The shamelessness one experiences while watching Dershowitz is the same shamelessness that used to be attached to Drag Queen performances before the gay liberation movement made things not only understandable, but also widely appreciated. The point is that we should never take either a drag queen’s act or Alan Dershowitz’s show at their face value.
Dershowitz really thinks he is a global citizen of Israel. Instead of hating him, we need to remind the other members of the audience that he is an American, and that his pro Israeli act has gone from being completely, seriously effective to being merely ridiculous. We, in the justice and peace camp, need to respect him for his entertaining value. We need to make the rest of the world relate to him as they relate to a drag performer. In that way he can have his show, and we can have our fun without getting angry.