Dershowitz rides shotgun for student attacking Palestinian scholar and his wife in California

Israel/Palestine
on 60 Comments

Bassam Frangieh is an Arabic scholar and translator who teaches at a California college, Claremont McKenna. I imagine that his life is framed by the Nakba; his family was extirpated from Jaffa in 1948; they owned orange groves; he was born in a refugee camp. In 2006, he had the nerve to attack Israel over the 2006 Lebanon invasion and describe Hizbullah as the national resistance.

Now he is being smeared as pro-terrorist by Charles Johnson, a journalist at Claremont McKenna, who published this attack in the National Review, citing the usual fragmentary statements about Hamas and Hezbollah. It includes this McCarthyite pirouette:


Frangieh’s radicalism is shared by his wife, Aleta Wenger. A former State Department official who worked on the Middle Eastern desk, Ms. Wenger is currently director of Claremont’s Center for Global Education and, as such, is the public face of the college overseas. Like her husband, she takes a conspiratorial view of Israel’s military, accusing it, without evidence, of bombing universities and hospitals.

I’ve been to Gaza. I saw the ruins of the gene sequencing building at the Islamic University and of Al Quds Hospital. It is not clear to me who is pushing back, though apparently the Claremont administration is defending Frangieh on free speech grounds.

Johnson devoted a piece to Frangieh’s wife last month, too. And last night he stated in a letter to Claremont McKenna execs that he is getting help from Alan Dershowitz:

I should add that all of the material that I or The Claremont Independent published regarding Professor Bassam Frangieh has been reviewed by my counsel and by Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School. The primary source material that I and The Claremont Independent published was translated by three different translators at considerable personal expense.

In the same piece Johnson says “nearly the entirety of the Government Department” at Claremont McKenna is on his side. I wonder how many of them know the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the role it is now playing in American politics…

60 Responses

  1. Scott
    March 1, 2011, 1:52 pm

    Kind of an interesting battleground. The kid originally wrote for the right wing college paper–training ground for many conservative journalists. It is not written in stone that such people —right wing college kids–should be big Zionists. Buckley didn’t used to be, more recently Bob Novak and Pat Buchanan are not, especially. I thought it interesting that the only two comments to the Claremont Freedom or whatever it was called were very anti the article, pro the people it attacked. In NRO it’s different, it’s been pretty thoroughly neoconnized since the purges of the 1990’s.

  2. marc b.
    March 1, 2011, 2:11 pm

    first benny morris, and now this. two ‘analyses’ that read like cake recipes.

    I should add that all of the material that I or The Claremont Independent published regarding Professor Bassam Frangieh has been reviewed by my counsel and by Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School. The primary source material that I and The Claremont Independent published was translated by three different translators at considerable personal expense.

    this is the definition of wilfull stupidity. all that assistance and he claims straight-facedly that there is no evidence that israel has bombed civilian facilities, despite tens of articles in main stream publications of the damage caused to hospitals, water treatment facilities, bridges, airports, schools, residential homes, beach combers, adolescents and children picking through refuse, farmers, etc. etc. in gaza and lebanon. but perhaps i am being overly critical. he did write ‘bomb’. many of these facilities, homes, people, were shelled and shot, not bombed.

    and i love this revisionist history about hizbollah, the terrorist group which ‘has killed more americans than anyone except al-queda’ or something to that effect. does he mean hizbollah in beirut, which was being underwritten by iran at the same time reagan and co. and israel were sending arms to iran? why is the link in that chain of evidence always glossed over?

    • dbroncos
      March 1, 2011, 10:53 pm

      When was Hizbollah founded? They have been blamed for the US marine barracks bombing but did they officially exist at the time?

      • fuster
        March 1, 2011, 11:13 pm

        why would whether their existence was official or not matter, db?

        if somebody gives a campaign speech a few days before officially becoming a candidate, does that mean it wasn’t a campaign speech?

        if Japan bombs Pearl Harbor before declaring war………….?

      • RoHa
        March 2, 2011, 2:07 am

        “When was Hizbollah founded? They have been blamed for the US marine barracks bombing but did they officially exist at the time?”

        And who was responsible for that bombing, anyway? Islamic Jihad? Hezbollah? Iran? They Who Shall Not Be Named?

        link to pbs.org

        link to the7thfire.com

    • fuster
      March 1, 2011, 11:43 pm

      marc b

      perhaps the link to the arms sent to Iran by the US is glossed over because it’s unimportant. Reagan sent them arms because he thought that they might soften their hostility to the US and the Iranian’s laughed at him while they had Americans killed and tortured.

      • marc b.
        March 2, 2011, 10:32 am

        that’s one interpretation, mr. frog. another more plausible explanation is that discussion of the long-term and ongoing working relationship between the US and iranian mullahs, jihadis, the taliban and other muslim fundamentalist types doesn’t conform with the cowboys-and-indians propaganda narrative. and you can’t milk the hizbollah as terrorist argument if you acknowledge that we were arming iran while iran was arming hizbollah, as that useful idiot cJohnson has just shown.

      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 12:18 pm

        marc b,

        your interpretation has to exclude 10 important things for every small thing upon which it relies. that doesn’t usually produce a good result, but feel free.

        no one need “milk” the hezbollah as terrorist argument. they are what they are and they’ve done what they’ve done.

      • annie
        March 2, 2011, 12:35 pm

        perhaps the link to the arms sent to Iran by the US is glossed over because it’s unimportant. Reagan sent them arms because he thought that they might soften their hostility to the US and the Iranian’s laughed at him while they had Americans killed and tortured.

        your interpretation has to exclude 10 important things for every small thing upon which it relies. that doesn’t usually produce a good result, but feel free.

        no one need “milk” the hezbollah as terrorist argument.

        so what’s your logical explanation for all that milking then?

      • marc b.
        March 2, 2011, 12:44 pm

        your interpretation has to exclude 10 important things for every small thing upon which it relies.

        they are what they are and they’ve done what they’ve done.

        aaah, a frog speaking in platitudinous riddles. merci, monsieur grenouille. i’ll add you to my ‘not worth responding to’ list.

      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 1:04 pm

        marc, that exclusion would line up well with your theorizing.

        happy vapor trails.

      • Potsherd2
        March 2, 2011, 2:12 pm

        That’s right, fuster. Hezbollah is an organization of freedom fighters dedicated to throwing Israeli invaders out of their country. Did damn well at it, too.

      • annie
        March 2, 2011, 11:01 am

        Reagan sent them arms because he thought that they might soften their hostility to the US

        source? i missed this explanation for iran contra.

      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 12:19 pm

        annie, ever hear the phrase “arms for hostages” ?

        you’ll have no trouble finding sources if you run a search with that.

      • annie
        March 2, 2011, 12:39 pm

        so remind me again who it was that decided to step around congress and illegally sell arms to iran via israel w/a little south american murder thrown in for good measure? elliot abrams? ledeen? i can’t recall them all. the people who think they have more authority than congress (well, they do actually they paid no price)

      • Chaos4700
        March 2, 2011, 12:47 pm

        But Fuster! You said the hostages were BEING KILLED! Were we trading guns for dead bodies?

      • Chaos4700
        March 2, 2011, 12:51 pm

        And anyway, “arms for hostages” is utter bullshit. Lebanese militants had the hostages, not Iran. The criminals who claim this as a reason are lying through their teeth.

        This was a way to try to spark a civil war in Iran, kick money back to Israel and fund right-wing terror groups that the US found useful in South America, to boot.

        Sorry if I’m tarnishing your cherished icon of St. Reagan, fuster.

      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 1:10 pm

        Weinberger
        Poindexter
        North
        McFarlane

        and their boss, Reagan all made that decision and implemented that plan..,,, but if you want to skip over them and cherry-pick Abrams and Ledeen,
        you may take your two goose-steps and go for it.

      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 1:22 pm

        Chaos,

        —And anyway, “arms for hostages” is utter bullshit. Lebanese militants had the hostages, not Iran.—-

        you really need to follow that RIF thingie. Maybe find out about the couple thousand Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Bakaa Valley, find out from where the money and guns for those lebanese militants came.

        link to news.bbc.co.uk

      • Chaos4700
        March 2, 2011, 8:13 pm

        Yes, fuster, we can all read the wiki entry for the names. Would be nice if you went ahead and provided a citation.

        What I said still stands. You’re defaulting to the old “Iran as Cobra Commander” canard again. Never mind that the article you cite points out rather strenuously that Hezbollah formed, above everything else, as a reaction to the military occupation of Lebanon by Israel.

        The IDF gets FAR more funding and support from the United States than Hezbollah has ever gotten from Iran. You are just parroting the same neoconservative bullshit that’s been repeated over and over and over again.

        Ollie North is a lying, traitorous, arms-dealing thug. Get over it.

      • Chaos4700
        March 2, 2011, 11:23 am

        Let me get this straight. The US sends arms to ONE specific faction in the reconstituted Iranian society, under the notion that arming one faction against another will “soften hostility.” This is done via Israel, who ALSO gets a cut of the profits, while the money made in this endeavor is funneled by the CIA to South American death squads.

        And that’s unimportant? What parallel reality doobie are you smoking?

      • annie
        March 2, 2011, 11:49 am

        good one chaos ;)

      • DBG
        March 2, 2011, 11:16 pm

        Which specific faction are you talking about Chaos? Are you talking about Iran-Contra?

      • Potsherd2
        March 2, 2011, 2:10 pm

        fusty – Reagan sold arms to Iran to get funds that he could secretly use to support his favorite terrorists without telling Congress.

        But what you overlook is the fact that Israel kept on selling arms to Iran after the Contra deal was over – for the money. If the Iranian republic was born to destroy Israel, it’s not likely that Israel would have done this, is it?

      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 3:00 pm

        Pots, I appreciate the point but the money was not the sole reason for Reagan, it was the secondary reason.

        If you have links for later arms sales from Israel to Iran, post them.
        The dates of the sales and the weaponry sold wold supply information necessary for a reasonable answer.
        failing specifics, Israel might have had any of several reasons, including the expectation that the weapons would be used against the Iraqis.

      • Potsherd2
        March 2, 2011, 3:51 pm
      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 4:05 pm

        from your link….

        Sharon told the Washington Post in May 1982, justifying Israeli arms sales to Tehran, “Iraq is Israel’s enemy and we hope that diplomatic relations between us and Iran will be renewed as in the past.” Four months later he told a Paris press conference, “Israel has a vital interest in the continuing of the war in the Persian Gulf, and in Iran’s victory.” Such views were not Sharon’s alone; Prime Ministers Itzhak Shamir (Likud) and Shimon Peres (Labor) shared them too.

      • Chaos4700
        March 2, 2011, 8:16 pm

        Iraq is Israel’s enemy and we hope that diplomatic relations between us and Iran will be renewed as in the past.

        How does that even make sense? In 1982 the United States was arming Hussein and providing him with satellite photos to aim his weapons at Iran.

        This is just more evidence of Israelis playing the US government and its foreign policy like a harp from hell.

      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 10:28 pm

        Chaos, you never cease to amaze. Ba’athist Iraq and theocratic Iran were two very, very b-a-d countries.
        The US was very unhappy with Iran after Ronnie and his other idiots finally figured out that Iran was going to continue to kill Americans.
        The Israelis were very unhappy with the threats from Iraq and thought that Iraq had an army capable of producing actual damage to Israel. Iran had not those capabilities.

        Both the US and Israel were perfectly content to see Iran and Iraq fight each other, use whatever military equipment they had against each other, and depend on the US and Israel for replacement. A dependency for acquiring the tools of war is often a check against acting against the interests of the supplier.
        This is somewhat devious but not terribly difficult, eh?

      • DBG
        March 2, 2011, 10:56 pm

        Chaos, did you forget that Israel bombed Osirak in 1981? How does this fit into your evidence that the US government’s foreign policy is dictated by the US? If Israel were calling the shots, wouldn’t we have aided the Iranians?

      • Potsherd2
        March 2, 2011, 10:56 pm

        Ba’athist Iraq and theocratic Iran were two very, very b-a-d countries.

        Demonize much?

      • Potsherd2
        March 2, 2011, 11:00 pm

        fusty, you seem to be missing the point. If Israel supposed there was really an “Iran threat,” it wouldn’t have indulged in its evil and greedy impulses to sell weapons to Iran that might be used later against Israel.

      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 11:34 pm

        got a problem with that assessment, Pots?

        be my guest. bring the love for Khomeini and Saddam. happy to hear your words of enchantment.

      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 11:40 pm

        Iran that might be used later against Israel.—-

        Pots, the weapons were to be used against Iraq. Having Iran fight against and deplete Saddam’s army, which was an a much greater threat to Israel, wasn’t a tough call for the Israelis.

        Two enemies, one powerful, one not…… you really prefer to see them fight each other.

      • RoHa
        March 2, 2011, 11:50 pm

        “Two enemies, one powerful, one not…… you really prefer to see them fight each other.”

        And enjoy the slaughter, rather than try to make peace with them.

  3. Citizen
    March 1, 2011, 2:41 pm

    Dershie likes to help gullible students like Mr Johnson.

    • Citizen
      March 1, 2011, 11:58 pm

      Who paid for the translations “at considerable expense?”
      Here is the young student discussing why he accomplished the translations (by three different translators, one of them a CIA person who wishes to remain anonymous) on the Rick Amado Show: link to vimeo.com

      He says the professor is tenured (by a college that churns out fledgling diplomats and State Dept officials), tenured without, anybody even first googling the name Bassam Frangieh, he thinks. And that he was moved to out the professor when the translations revealed Frangieh as a terrorist supporter of HAMAS, and Hizbollah killed US marines in Lebanon, and he has friends who are marines, and friends who are jewish too. He picks out Frangieh’s writing about his experience living in America as a slow suffocation turning people into robots, and like the classic frog in water in the pot, adapting as the heat is turned up ever so slowly on the stove. The young student (age 22?) then asks, “If he’s he’s so unhappy here, then why doesn’t he leave?” And says Frangieh makes a 6 digit salary.

      • Citizen
        March 2, 2011, 12:12 am

        If memory serves, the Rick Amado Show audio link also reveals the young student saying in addition to writing for his college newspaper, he also writes for Andrew Breibart. Breitbar has been described as a neocon Jew, and “a gotcha politician who has not brought a single drop of value to the world. He epitomizes all that is wrong with the right. New Yorker magazine has profiled him in brutally unflattering terms.” link to tzvee.blogspot.com

  4. hughsansom
    March 1, 2011, 3:33 pm

    Charles C. Johnson is hardly a journalist. He is either an undergrad or a very recent graduate of Claremont McKenna. I would guess his strategy is two-fold.

    First, he knows that the standards of truth and decency in the right-wing media are near zero. That is, a right-winger making absurd, unsubstantiated claims (ala Ross Douthat, for example) will, rise far and fast where as a progressive making the most exhaustively substantiated charges will face expulsion. Norman Finkelstein is great example. (Perhaps Johnson is a journalist, by American standards.)

    Second, he know that hitching his wagon to the charge of bigots like Dershowitz gets him legal protection and career advancement.

    It’s a Karl Rove way of doing things.

  5. IranContraClanDidNineEleven
    March 1, 2011, 4:39 pm

    Charles Johnson is a real man, no relation to this Commissar:

    link to gunnyg.blogspot.com

    link to ibiblio.org

  6. MeHaas
    March 1, 2011, 4:56 pm

    Like her husband, she takes a conspiratorial view of Israel’s military, accusing it, without evidence, of bombing universities and hospitals.

    Where did he live last years? On the moon?

    I’ve some exciting reading for him to catch on: link to www2.ohchr.org

  7. Potsherd2
    March 1, 2011, 5:18 pm

    Without evidence!?!?!?

  8. piotr
    March 1, 2011, 6:00 pm

    It is possible that most of what C.C. Johnson described is true. Basically, he classifies a large spectrum of political positions as “thoughcrime” to use the language of 1984. That would cover “horrors” like sharing opinions of Norman Finkelstein.

    This anecdote or that described by C.C. Johnson can be exagerated or false, but overall, being attacked on the not-so-hallowed pages of National Review is almost a badge of distinction. These guys would love to bring sword and fire to all nests of heresy and scour them clean. Caedite eos!

  9. David Samel
    March 1, 2011, 6:17 pm

    It’s not surprising in the lease that Charles Johnson and Alan Dershowitz are associated. Dersh’s fingerprints are all over Johnson’s little screed. Johnson gives very little opportunity to check his facts but it is hardly surprising that he has been publicly accused by faculty members of dishonestly portraying Frangieh’s opinions. It is perfectly clear that he lifts isolated quotes out of context, and paraphrases other statements without providing exact quotes, in order to say little things that are arguably true but intentionally give the wrong impression to the reader. Just as Shakespearean, Darwinian and Dickensian have become words, this technique should be called Dershian, and young Johnson already is a master.

    • piotr
      March 1, 2011, 7:40 pm

      I think “Dershovian”. Like “salivating at the sound of Hasbara” or “at the smell of tender liberal flesh to be bitten”.

      Somewhere I have seen “hasbaratim”, but I would need to consult someone who knows Semitic languages. I kind of like it best, because it has a nice sound, evoking the melodies of the Middle East, and if correct, grammatical forms “hasbarat” and “hasbarata” are nice too. Like “stalwart hasbarat from Dershovian school”. And of course, refering to Jenifer Rubin as hasbarata would also warm my cockles.

  10. yourstruly
    March 1, 2011, 9:00 pm

    Johnson’s screed is but the latest example of the Zionist’s preferred diversionary tactic, shoot the messenger.

  11. Citizen
    March 1, 2011, 11:23 pm

    Dershie’s young protege says he will be responding to criticism by around noon tomorrow, Wednesday. I’m not sure if he means right here on Mondoweiss, or at Claremont, or in the NR. Whoever sees his respone first, let us all know.

  12. maximalistNarrative
    March 2, 2011, 2:34 am

    It is very telling that you describe the return of the Jewish people to our native land as a “Nakba” or catastrophe.

    But put it this way, 1948 was not a victory at all for the Jewish people. We ended that war without Jerusalem, without Hebron, without Beit El. This is no victory.

    It took us years to liberate the rest of our lands, and the hardest battles are yet to come.

    Only with perseverence, moral clarity, and a love of our native land will we succeed in massively colonizing Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, and other Jewish lands in the coming decades.

    • Chaos4700
      March 2, 2011, 11:25 am

      It is very telling that you describe the return of the Jewish people to our native land as a “Nakba” or catastrophe.

      So the name “Goldbaum,” where is that from Hebron? Somewhere near Ramallah? “Meyerson,” I can’t place that name, maybe it has Syrian influence and that’s why I’m not sure? Help me out here.

      How can someone return to their “native land” and proceed to “colonize” it? That’s what Ziocaine can do for your brain!

      • fuster
        March 2, 2011, 12:21 pm

        Chaos, good for you.

        that right of return bullshit sounds even more stupid when Jews use it.

        the Jews are returning to Israel these days because the government of Israel invites them. there’s no other legal basis.

      • Chaos4700
        March 2, 2011, 8:19 pm

        Israel is conducting an illegal population transfer, fuster. They are quite literally driving Palestinians out of their homes and turn those homes over to “chosen” foreign immigrants.

        Don’t use this as a cynical dodge to undermine Palestinian right of return. That’s actually legitimate and it’s guaranteed under international law.

        I don’t care how many times you say, “Duuuh, where’s this Geneva Convention bein’ held?” Ignorance of the law does not refute it.

      • DBG
        March 2, 2011, 11:00 pm

        International Law says nothing about the ancestors of descendants Chaos.

    • Chaos4700
      March 2, 2011, 11:29 am

      It took us years to liberate the rest of our lands, and the hardest battles are yet to come.

      Get ready for World War III I suppose.

    • annie
      March 2, 2011, 11:58 am

      i think you have a reading comprehension problem max. these are phil’s words and how he described the nakba:

      his family was extirpated from Jaffa in 1948; they owned orange groves; he was born in a refugee camp

      this was not phil’s description of jewish immigration.

    • marc b.
      March 2, 2011, 12:56 pm

      But put it this way, 1948 was not a victory at all for the Jewish people. We ended that war without Jerusalem, without Hebron, without Beit El. This is no victory.

      It took us years to liberate the rest of our lands, and the hardest battles are yet to come.

      sounds like a senile churchill.

      “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight them in their hospitals, we shall fight them in their daycare centers and flour mills, we shall fight their demographic threat, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, Eretz Israel were forced to give them equal rights, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the American Congress, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, Haim Saban, with all his power and might, steps forth to the rescue.”

  13. CharlesCJohnson
    March 2, 2011, 8:01 pm

    I replied to this piece on my website, Claremont Conservative, but I’d really like to know you visited the “ruins” of a building that was never turned into ruins. You can see how Phil Weiss spins the truth by going to my site and seeing for yourself

    • tree
      March 3, 2011, 2:11 am

      So apparently you just took a CAMERA lie and ran with it. Not very impressive. If you are going to accuse Phil Weiss of lying then you also have to accuse Richard Goldstone AND Binyamin Netanyahu as well.

      See the detailed report on the destruction of the hospital from the UN report here:

      link to www2.ohchr.org

      The hospital attack report begins on page 141, paragraphs 596-629.

      And Netanyahu himself acknowledged that the hospital was destroyed when in September 2009, in reply to a request from France, he allowed the importation of cement and other material into Gaza for the hospital’s rebuilding.

      Yesterday, Sarkozy called Netanyahu, who gave the go-ahead for the project.

      “We have decided to allow the rebuilding of the hospital,” Netanyahu told Sarkozy. “I am doing this as a humanitarian gesture and in light of the great friendship between us.”

      link to haaretz.com

      As for your picture from CAMERA, its a nice bit of cropping. However, if you look closely enough, you’ll notice that the blackened area indicates a large fire INSIDE the building, and if you look closely at the left side you’ll notice that many of the windows are blown out.

      If you want to see an uncropped picture of the destruction on that side of the building then go here, to the Amnesty International Flicker site:

      link to flickr.com

      Interesting isn’t, how the CAMERA photo just managed to miss the most severe damage on that side?

      Here’s another side of the hospital that CAMERA didn’t think was necessary to show. (It might conflict with their bs if they did.)

      link to flickr.com

      Here’s another shot from inside the hospital

      link to flickr.com

      And more pictures of the destruction:

      link to ingaza.wordpress.com

      Maybe if you had spent the 10 minutes searching the web for photos instead of taking CAMERA’s word for it, you wouldn’t have so much egg on your face. If you have any dignity, you’d apologize to Weiss for falsely labeling him a liar. We’ll see.

      • tree
        March 3, 2011, 3:03 am

        And here’s another picture of the other side of Al Quds Hospital that CAMERA didn’t think was important enough to show you.

        link to guardian.co.uk

        Really, whats your excuse for not finding these easily found pictures on the web?

  14. piotr
    March 3, 2011, 12:03 am

    One can see the destroyed buildings of Islamic University at U-tube. I am afraid that C.C. Johnson is cognitively impaired.

  15. IranContraClanDidNineEleven
    March 3, 2011, 12:30 am

    CharlesCJohnson March 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm
    I’d really like to know you visited the “ruins” of a building that was never turned into ruins.

    Here’s what a real man looks like, one who just happens to share your name:

    “Captain Johnson jumped out of his jeep, ran up to the tanks, and stood in the center of the road. The lead tank stopped about six inches in front of Johnson, would told the Israeli lieutenant colonel in the lead tank, “You will not pass through this position.” After a short pause, the Israeli dismounted, spoke with Johnson, and then climbed back aboard the tank, saying that he was going through. Johnson later stated that he replied, “You will have to kill me first.” He drew his pistol, chambered a round, and held the weapon at the ready position. There was another pause as the Israeli officer apparently spoke over his radio to his headquarters. The lead tank then pulled slowly to the side of the road with Captain Johnson walking alongside and then the two others suddenly revved up their engines and whipped forward toward the fence.

    The young Marine captain jumped on the lead tank, grabbed the Israeli officer, and yelled at him to order his tanks halted. The tank commander complied and then purportedly told Johnson, “One thing we don’t want to do is kill each other.””

    link to gunnyg.blogspot.com

Leave a Reply