Dershowitz’s hypocrisy and dishonesty over Brooklyn College BDS conference

Alan Dershowitz, famed Harvard Law Professor, is feeling besieged, bruised and battered. In his shrill campaign against Thursday evening’s BDS program presented by Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler at Brooklyn College, Dershowitz did not call for cancellation of the event, but was incensed that it was co-sponsored by the College’s Political Science Department. According to him, this was an egregious violation of students’ academic freedom. From his Huffington Post column:

[W]hen a department of a university officially co-sponsors and endorses an event advocating BDS against Israel, and refuses to co-sponsor and endorse an event opposing such BDS, that does constitute an official endorsement. Freedom of speech, and academic freedom require equal access to both sides of a controversy, not official sponsorship and endorsement of one side over the other. The heavy thumb of an academic department should not be placed on the scale, if the marketplace of ideas is to remain equally accessible to all sides of a controversy.

The BC Poli Sci Department hasn’t actually refused to sponsor an anti-BDS event, but Dershowitz thinks it would: “Based on my knowledge of the Brooklyn College political science department, they would never vote to sponsor and endorse an anti-BDS campaign.”

The effects of such bias on students can be enormous, says Dershowitz: “If I were a Brooklyn College student today and an opponent of BDS against Israel, I would not major in political science. I would worry that my chances of getting into a good law school or graduate program, would be put at risk.”

In a subsequent column, making basically the same arguments, Dershowitz further detailed the agony faced by students:

One political science student at Brooklyn College said she was afraid to criticize her department because “that’s going to put a target on my back.” Other students talked about a “chilling effect” that the department’s decision would have on them. And yet another student said that she had “an uncomfortable feeling” about raising her hand and arguing “with a professor who voted for it” and who tried to justify his vote in the classroom.

So according to Professor D, the problem is that departmental sponsorship of political events jeopardizes the academic freedom of students who will then feel “uncomfortable in class” and vulnerable to retaliation if they publicize views contrary to those “endorsed” by the department. In preparation for his column about the BC controversy, Glenn Greenwald emailed Dershowitz, resulting in a rather contentious exchange posted in full by Greenwald. Among other things, Dershowitz stated: “I would oppose a pro Israel event being sponsored by a department. . . I recently told someone who invited me to give a talk on Israel that the talk should not be sponsored by the school or a department.” When Greenwald asked for details about his request for no sponsorship by school or department for one of his speeches, Dershowitz mysteriously failed to respond.

Dershowitz, as a lawyer trained to anticipate contrary views, should have known better. He himself is a prolific lecturer, and has given political lectures sponsored by a university department, a sin he now considers so egregious that he has devoted several columns to exposing it. Just one year ago, Dershowitz was invited to speak against BDS at the University of Pennsylvania. That lecture was sponsored by both the University’s Political Science Department and its Philosophy, Economics and Politics Department. Greenwald updated his column with this glaring hypocrisy. And, unlike the BC situation, in which Dershowitz speculates that the Department would deny sponsorship of an anti-BDS lecture (I would speculate otherwise), Penn’s Poli Sci Department really did choose sides, refusing to sponsor the BDS conference held at the school at the very same time but explicitly sponsoring Dershowitz’s opposition speech. In response to this revelation, Dershowitz had no choice but to dig himself a deeper hole.

In an Open Zion column , among the grossly misleading and false statements he made was the following defense of his appearance at the Penn lecture:

When I agreed to give that talk, I was told that the event was being sponsored by Hillel alone. I was not and am not aware that it was also sponsored by a department. Had I been aware, I would have opposed such co-sponsorship, since I do not believe that academic departments should take official positions on issues of this kind.

Somehow he didn’t realize that his speech enjoyed the sponsorship of two university departments. Although he now considers such sponsorships to be a dangerous infringement of academic freedom that intimidates poor young students and influences them to change their majors, Dershowitz was so unconcerned about this clear red line that he did not inquire whether it had been crossed at Penn. Even worse than Dershowitz’s dubious claim of (self-imposed) ignorance of the multi-departmental sponsorship of his speech, he well knew that the President of the University and its Chairman of the Board of Trustees did endorse his appearance. The Chairman, David Cohen, introduced Dershowitz, reading a letter from President Amy Gutmann: “We are unwavering in our support of Israel” he read. “We do not support the message or the goals of BDS.”

Shouldn’t that have set off alarm bells to someone who feels that students are so aggrieved by one-sided lectures sponsored by a university or department? And what did Dershowitz do in response to Cohen’s introduction? Did he begin his speech decrying the official endorsement of his anti-BDS appearance, saying it would adversely affect Penn students who hold contrary views? Did he raise a protest to President Gutmann that her avowed support of Israel would make pro-Palestinian rights students “uncomfortable” on campus and in the classroom? Yeah, right.

Dershowitz’s Open Zion column was in response to another OZ column about the BC controversy penned by Amy Schiller . Dershowitz accused Schiller of lying on two points:

Amy Schiller, in her article, “NYC Politicos Rally Against Brooklyn College BDS Panel,” quotes an anonymous professor saying that the political science department sponsored “Alan Dershowitz’s 2008 Konefsky lecture where he defended torture, where there has been no one presenting the other side.” That short sentence contains two lies: 1) I gave the Konefksy lecture approximately 40 years ago in which I spoke about Professor Konefsky and the United States Supreme Court. It was an entirely academic lecture. 2) I have never defended torture. Indeed, I have repeatedly condemned it. What I have proposed is a method for making those who do engage in torture accountable to the law.

The first point is another classic Dershowitz half-truth deliberately designed to deceive. While indignantly declaring that his Konefsky lecture took place 40 years ago and was “academic” in nature, he has the audacity to conceal that he delivered a (non-Konefsky) lecture at BC in 2008 at which he presented without opposition his views on torture (for several minutes of a much longer lecture in which he presented his unopposed views on free speech and Jefferson). So Schiller’s unidentified source (I wonder why he was afraid to reveal his identity) was only wrong about the title of the lecture! Who is the liar here: Schiller’s source who mistakenly believed the 2008 lecture was the famed “Konefsky” but got the other details right; or Dershowitz, whose blanket denial clearly implied that he gave no such lecture at BC in 2008?

As to Schiller’s accusation that Dershowitz defended torture, his actual views are so complex and confusing that he can hardly accuse anyone who misinterprets them of lying. Dershowitz essentially argues that torture can work wonders in saving innocent lives, and offers a legal framework for the authorities to conduct such torture of suspects. The aspiring torturer should apply to a magistrate for a “torture warrant” and the torture should be performed by “sterilized needle under the nail.” (Note the careful attention to personal hygiene.) Still, Dershowitz claims, he’s opposed to the practice, despite the heavy price society would pay for forgoing this useful tool. “[Torture] may sound brutal,” he says, “but it does not compare in brutality with the prospect of thousands of preventable deaths at the hands of fellow terrorists.” To complicate matters even more, Dershowitz says he disagreed with the Israeli Supreme Court opinion unequivocally banning torture. Do you understand his position? Apparently Amy Schiller did not, and in Dersh’s view, she is a liar. Actually, in saying that Dershowitz “defended” torture, she most certainly was correct, as he did defend its value while opposing it on principle. If you’re not a Talmudic scholar, don’t even try to understand my (hopefully accurate) summary of Dershowitz’s position on torture.

OK, so maybe Dershowitz gave a 2012 department-sponsored speech at Penn without knowing it, and a 2008 university-sponsored speech at BC (but not the Konefsky!) about free speech, where he couldn’t help but throw in his opinion on torture. But are there more? Well, in 2010, Dershowitz received an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University (can’t get more institution-sponsored than that), and used the occasion to spout his views on Israel and the disgraceful academics who criticize it, as well as Israeli universities’ contribution to the development of new and improved methods of killing Palestinians and other Arabs (and perhaps Persians). Some very brief excerpts:

No country in the history of the world has ever contributed more to humankind and accomplished more for its people in so brief a period of time as Israel has done since its relatively recent rebirth in 1948. . . Israel’s research universities have contributed immeasurably to the defense of Israel by the development of technological advances that support the mission of the IDF. . . The Israeli military plays more than a critical role in defending the citizens of the Jewish state. It also plays an important social, scientific and psychological role in preparing its young citizens for the challenging task of being Israelis in a difficult world. . . Some of the same hard leftists who demand academic freedom for themselves and their ideological colleagues were among the leaders of those seeking to deny academic freedom to a distinguished law professor who had worked for the military advocate general and whose views they disagreed with.

Dershowitz also said: “The answer to bad ideas is not firing the teacher; but articulating better ideas which prevail in the marketplace.” Tell that to Norman Finkelstein.

It turns out that some of those “hard leftists” who were not invited by TAU to present their viewpoint were upset with the speech. A letter to the university president signed by 80 faculty members protested Dershowitz’s comments as an assault on academic freedom.

Then there’s the saga of the BDS campaign at Hampshire College in Massachusetts in 2009. While the Administration was considering whether to divest from companies doing business in Israel in accordance with the sentiment of students and faculty, did the Harvard Professor stand by on the sidelines and allowed the debate to proceed without interference? Of course not. He threatened to organize a boycott of contributions to the school: “I call on all decent people — supporters and critics of Israel alike — to make no further contributions to a school that now promotes discrimination and is complicit in evil.” In the end, College President Ralph Hexter caved in a public act of contrition, writing an obsequious open letter to the great moral arbiter from Cambridge, assuring him that the sale of a “problematic” mutual fund had nothing to do with Israel. So much for the “marketplace of ideas” Dershowitz trumpets ad nauseam. The “market” should be receptive to his ideas, but he will do his best to financially punish those who express ideas he does not like.

Most recently, Dershowitz authored yet another article in which he claims he has been attacked by the “dogs of defamation” for his pro-Israel advocacy. Item 1: Norman Finkelstein’s allegation of plagiarism, claiming that Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel quoted without citation from Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial. Space does not permit me to rebut in detail Dershowitz’s claim of innocence, but judge for yourself. Dershowitz quoted verbatim Joan Peters’s very strange version of a Mark Twain quote, including an 87-page ellipsis, and repeated each of Peters’s dumb transcription errors. Yet Dershowitz cited Twain only, claiming that he got the quote himself, and not from Peters. Frank Menetrez wrote in greater detail about this affair if anyone is interested.

Dershowitz next complains about the “lie” that he is pro-torture, discussed above. Finally, he gets to the most recent calumny against him, where “the dogs” charge him with hypocrisy on the BC affair because of his own recent history at UPenn. Once again he disavows any contemporaneous knowledge of departmental sponsorship of his anti-BDS diatribe, and fails to mention the praise heaped on him by Penn’s Chairman and President.

Dershowitz reveals the motives behind this cabal of defamers. It is not to hurt him, because he himself is invincible. It is to set an example to younger academics, to threaten them that if they are as outspoken in favor of Israel as Dersh, they will be similarly attacked and the attacks could have more serious repercussions because of their vulnerable position:

The message is clear: If you support Israel, we will attack you like we attack Dershowitz, but you will be hurt much more that Dershowitz would. We will damage your reputation, hurt your student evaluations and decrease your chances for tenure.

How ironic that the man who played such a large role in ruining Norman Finkelstein’s academic career is now so concerned about hypothetical academic hit men who are sharpening their knives on him in a dress rehearsal for a similar jihad against young, honest pro-Israel scholars.

Moreover, Dershowitz’s overall complaint of defamation is a classic example of projection. Dershowitz is accusing others of committing the same offenses he has committed for decades. He has been on the front line of a concerted effort to demonize those who dare criticize Israel beyond the very narrow boundaries of legitimate criticism that he can tolerate. And his own attacks on others has not exactly been moderate and measured. Goldstone is a “moser,” there is a “special place in hell” for Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is “one of the most evil men in the world,” Professors Mearsheimer and Walt plagiarized their scholarship on the Israel lobby from David Duke, Norman Finkelstein suggested that Dershowitz be killed; the list is endless.

People often comment that Dershowitz is a clown who does not deserve the time and effort to discredit him. I could not disagree more. He remains a highly influential public figure on matters pertaining to Israel and Palestine, commanding an audience at the White House and filling lecture halls regularly. Give the devil his due. He has great rhetorical skills, thinks quickly on his feet, and in my opinion can on occasion out-debate far worthier opponents. He remains a rock star of pro-Israel advocacy. His brazen hypocrisy and serial dishonesty should be challenged regularly.

About David Samel

David Samel is am attorney in New York City.
Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, Media, US Politics

{ 34 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. jimmy says:

    I read some where that ders has been to Israel like once…

    I am guessing that is wrong

    • Cliff says:

      “The first point is another classic Dershowitz half-truth deliberately designed to deceive. While indignantly declaring that his Konefsky lecture took place 40 years ago and was “academic” in nature, he has the audacity to conceal that he delivered a (non-Konefsky) lecture at BC in 2008 at which he presented without opposition his views on torture (for several minutes of a much longer lecture in which he presented his unopposed views on free speech and Jefferson).”

      THIS part is what stuck out to me.

      Dersh knows she was incorrect about the title of the lecture, but the date was correct. And surely, that’s what she meant. It doesn’t matter if it was the ‘Konefsky’(sp) lecture or the Homer Simpson lecture.

      The point is that it was a lecture at that college in 2008. It was co-sponsored and he accepted. Hence, he’s a hypocrite and also an apologist for torture.

      And yet, he quibbles over this point so he can call his opposition, ‘liars’. As if the lecture’s title makes any difference.

      That level of dishonesty is profound but Dershowitz is a career liar. A real troll of a human being.

  2. tree says:

    Great piece as usual, David. I aspire to one day to write as clearly and cogently as you. I’m not sure that’s possible but you are a great role model. Thanks for challenging Dersh as he deserves to be challenged.

  3. a blah chick says:

    Given that torture had been a part of the human existence for thousands of years one would think that there should be substantial evidence on its effectiveness, but that is not the case. Instead when pro torture folks want to make that argument they bring on board Jack Bauer. That should tell you something.

  4. Jeff Klein says:

    Thorough — and lawyerly! — take-down.

    Thanks so much for the reminder of what a gigantic fraud is “The Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law” at Harvard. This guy is a very smart, very shameless liar. Someday psychology graduate (and law?) students will write studies of his twisted career and twisted mind.

  5. pabelmont says:

    TheDersh ™ has no shame and you’ve nailed him. Hope someone outside “the choir” reads this great article. Wish a committee at HLS would read it. Such a disgrace he is! Maybe the HLS could award him a dis-honorary degree at the next graduation. Or the states in which he is admitted to the bar could initiate discliplinary proceedings against him for lying so often and so blatantly — lawyers are supposed to never commit deceit.

  6. Hostage says:

    [W]hen a department of a university officially co-sponsors and endorses an event advocating BDS against Israel, and refuses to co-sponsor and endorse an event opposing such BDS, that does constitute an official endorsement.

    The Political Science Department pointed-out that was not the case:

    In the last week, we have been contacted by members of the Brooklyn College community and beyond about the political science department’s co-sponsorship of a panel discussion on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Many have expressed support for our co-sponsorship, but we have also heard concern that the political science department is not willing to co-sponsor speakers or events representing alternative views. In fact, since this controversy broke, no group has contacted the political science chair requesting the department’s co-sponsorship of a specific event or actual speaker representing alternative or opposing views.

    link to brooklyn.cuny.edu

    • David Samel says:

      You’re right, Hostage. After first making the unambiguous statement you quote, about the Poli Sci Dept. refusing to co-sponsor an anti-BDS event, Dersh then admits that his opinion is purely hypothetical and speculative: Based on my knowledge of the Brooklyn College political science department, they would never vote to sponsor and endorse an anti-BDS campaign.

      • hophmi says:

        As I’ve told many people in the pro-Israel community, the best response is to test this claim, as much as possible.

        That’s been my view from the beginning.

        There’s more to this story; these allegations did not crop up from nowhere. The distinction between sponsorship and endorsement was lost even on the event’s producers, who promoted sponsorship as endorsement. There is little question that both the chair of the department and some of its more visible members, like Corey Robin, did little to mask their views on the issue. Paisley Currah apparently attempted to get all of the other departments to sponsor the event, and they refused to do so.

        There’s also a chance some of the enthusiasm PoliSci had for the event had to do with Judith Butler more than it had to do with BDS.

        You can’t blame the public for failing to parse the distinction between sponsorship and endorsement, which to most people, mean the same thing (why would you sponsor something you don’t endorse?)

  7. RE: “Dershowitz’s overall complaint of defamation is a classic example of projection*. Dershowitz is accusing others of committing the same offenses he has committed for decades. He has been on the front line of a concerted effort to demonize those who dare criticize Israel beyond the very narrow boundaries of legitimate criticism that he can tolerate. And his own attacks on others has not exactly been moderate and measured. Goldstone is a “moser,” there is a “special place in hell” for Jimmy Carter . . .” ~ David Samel

    MY COMMENT: Dershowitz is very good at playing hypocritical and dishonest “lawyers’ games”.
    *Psychological projection – link to en.wikipedia.org

    SEE THIS (SO-CALLED) “BOOK REVIEW”: “The World According to Carter”, By ALAN DERSHOWITZ, New York (Neocon) Sun, November 22, 2006

    [EXCERPTS] Sometimes you really can tell a book by its cover. President Jimmy Carter’s decision to title his new anti-Israel screed “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” (Simon & Schuster, 288 pages, $27) tells it all. His use of the loaded word “apartheid,” suggesting an analogy to the hated policies of South Africa, is especially outrageous. . . Nor does he explain that Israel’s motivation for holding on to land it captured in a defensive war is the prevention of terrorism. Israel has tried, on several occasions, to exchange land for peace, and what it got instead was terrorism, rockets, and kidnappings launched from the returned land. . .
    . . . Mr. Carter’s book is so filled with simple mistakes of fact and deliberate omissions . . . A mere listing of all of Mr. Carter’s mistakes and omissions would fill a volume the size of his book. . .
    . . . He claims that in 1967 Israel launched a preemptive attack against Jordan. The fact is that Jordan attacked Israel first, Israel tried desperately to persuade Jordan to remain out of the war, and Israel counterattacked after the Jordanian army surrounded Jerusalem, firing missiles into the center of the city. Only then did Israel capture the West Bank, which it was willing to return in exchange for peace and recognition from Jordan.
    . . . Mr. Carter faults Israel for its “air strike that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor” without mentioning that Iraq had threatened to attack Israel with nuclear weapons if Iraq succeeded in building a bomb.
    Mr. Carter faults Israel for its administration of Christian and Muslim religious sites, when in fact Israel is scrupulous about ensuring those of every religion the right to worship as they please — consistent, of course, with security needs. . .
    . . . Mr. Carter blames Israel, and exonerates Arafat, for the Palestinian refusal to accept statehood on 95% of the West Bank and all of Gaza pursuant to the Clinton-Barak offers at Camp David and Taba in 2000–2001. He accepts the Palestinian revisionist history, rejects the eyewitness accounts of President Clinton and Dennis Ross . . . The fact that Mr. Carter chooses to believe Arafat over Mr. Clinton speaks volumes.
    Mr. Carter’s description of the recent Lebanon war is misleading.
    He begins by asserting that Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. “Captured” suggests a military apprehension subject to the usual prisoner of war status. The soldiers were kidnapped. . .
    . . . Mr. Carter gives virtually no credit to Israel’s superb legal system, falsely asserting (without any citation) that “confessions extracted through torture are admissible in Israeli courts,” that prisoners are “executed,”and that the “accusers” act “as judges.” Even Israel’s most severe critics acknowledge the fairness of the Israeli Supreme Court, but not Mr. Carter. . .
    . . . Mr. Carter even blames Israel for the “exodus of Christians from the Holy Land,” totally ignoring the Islamization of the area by Hamas . . .
    . . . Mr. Carter also blames every American administration but his own for the Mideast stalemate with particular emphasis on “a submissive White House and U.S. Congress in recent years.” . . .
    . . . And it’s not just the facts; it’s the tone as well. It’s obvious that Mr. Carter just doesn’t like Israel or Israelis. . .
    . . . “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” is so biased that it inevitably raises the question of what would motivate a decent man like Jimmy Carter to write such an indecent book. Whatever Mr. Carter’s motives may be, his authorship of this ahistorical, one-sided, and simplistic brief against Israel forever disqualifies him from playing any positive role in fairly resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. . .

    ENTIRE (SO-CALLED) “BOOK REVIEW” – link to nysun.com

  8. joemowrey says:

    Let’s face it, hypocrisy and dishonesty are necessary core values for anyone who defends Zionism. Either that or a serious ability to live in a state of self delusion. You can’t defend racism and ethno-religious nationalism if you are being honest, with yourself or anyone else. I choose to believe that most of the intelligent, seemingly rational, so-called “liberal” Zionists fall into the self-delusional category. Hmmm…which category does that put me in?

    • Hostage says:

      Let’s face it, hypocrisy and dishonesty are necessary core values for anyone who defends Zionism.

      Yeah but Dersh takes it to a whole new level:

      The high cost of defending Israel
      By ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ
      I will continue to fight back and respond every time the dogs of defamation are unleashed against me.
      –http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Opinion/Article.aspx?id=302765

  9. Nevada Ned says:

    Bravo, David Samel!!

  10. hughsansom says:

    Dershowitz’s determination to destroy the career of any critic is not restricted to Norman Finkelstein or only to Finkelstein’s tenure review at DePaul. When Finkelstein’s “Beyond Chutzpah” was in preparation for publication at the University of California Press, Dershowitz threatened the press. The press subjected the book to a level of scrutiny few academic works are ever subjected to. (Far greater scrutiny than Harvard ever gave the work of Dershowitz.) When the press stood firm, Dershowitz tried to coerce the governor of California — Arnold Schwarzenegger. That failed also.

    What role Dershowitz may have had in torpedoing Juan Cole’s job offer from Yale is unknown.

    After the publication of Walt and Mearsheimer’s “Israel Lobby,” Dershowitz tried to hound Walt out of Harvard.

    Dershowitz was a key figure in the campaign to destroy the nomination of Charles Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council.

    Perhaps someone else can comment on what attacks Dershowitz has in the past leveled at the likes of Edward Said, Rashid Khalidi, Joseph Massad, Sara Roy and others.

  11. talknic says:

    joemowrey

    64 years on a diet of propaganda has resulted in millions of people believing it. They’re neither self deluded, hypocritical, dishonest, in denial or lying. They’re victims.

    • sardelapasti says:

      Talknic – “They’re neither self deluded, hypocritical, dishonest, in denial or lying. They’re victims”.
      Oh sure, then they must all be blind, deaf and retarded, the poor darlings. Limited responsibility.

    • joemowrey says:

      Talknic,

      In this day and age, anyone with access to the internet can discover the truth in a matter of hours. So if it’s not hypocrisy or denial, that leaves willful ignorance or sheer laziness. The true victims are the people who suffer because of lack of initiative on the part of those who could well learn the truth and stand up for it, but choose not to.

  12. piotr says:

    ” To complicate matters even more, Dershowitz says he disagreed with the Israeli Supreme Court opinion unequivocally banning torture. ”

    Some critique of Israel is OK.

    On the other hand, Derschowitz did not notice that while in USA the Supreme Court is more or less obeyed, in Israel it is kind of a timid advisory board.

  13. American says:

    Dershowitz is a brilliant lawyer?….I don’t think so, look how easily his prevarication is seen though.
    I would bet if Dersh was on a witness stand being question before 12 people of average intelligence….they would rule he was guilty of whatever just because of the number of times he ‘contradicted’ himself.
    His zionist followers might think he’s smart but they would since they have the same mental deficiency.
    Even the dumbest people can see when someone is trying to hammer a square peg in a round hole.

  14. American says:

    Excellent take down of Dershowitz by David I do have to say. Totally nailed him.
    The Dersh is a thug, operates like a thug.

  15. hophmi says:

    “Who is the liar here: Schiller’s source who mistakenly believed the 2008 lecture was the famed “Konefsky” but got the other details right; or Dershowitz, whose blanket denial clearly implied that he gave no such lecture at BC in 2008? ”

    OH PLEASE. It’s no secret that Dershowitz spoke at BC in 2008, and he hasn’t tried to suggest otherwise. It is the BDS movement and its proponents, including Alex Kane here, who have repeatedly gotten the facts mixed up about the Konefsky lecture, claiming it was in 2008, and claiming, with extraordinary disingenuousness, that it was about torture, when, in fact, it was not.

    link to mondoweiss.net

    Samel also continues to distort Dershowitz’s position on torture. This is what Dershowitz wrote in the article Samel cited:

    “It is a great tragedy that we have to be discussing the horrors of torture. Some even believe that any discussion of this issue is beyond the pale of acceptable discourse in 21st century America. But it is far better to discuss in advance the kinds of tragic choices we may encounter if we ever confront an actual ticking bomb terrorist case, than to wait until the case arises and let somebody make the decision in the heat of the moment. ”

    Once again, to argue that there should be a framework for an undesired behavior is not the same thing as supporting it. It’s much like alcohol or drugs. Arguing that marihuana should be decriminalized because people will smoke it anyway is not the same thing and saying that one supports its use.

    As far the discredited plagiarism nonsense: you can run with it if you want. It’s yet another pro-Palestinian shibboleth no one believes or cares about outside the pro-Palestinian community.

    • David Samel says:

      hophmi: It’s no secret that Dershowitz spoke at BC in 2008, and he hasn’t tried to suggest otherwise.
      Really, hophmi? In his Feb. 6 column for Open Zion, Dershowitz claimed that Amy Schiller lied when she said “Alan Dershowitz’s 2008 Konefsky lecture where he defended torture, where there has been no one presenting the other side” because I gave the Konefksy lecture approximately 40 years ago in which I spoke about Professor Konefsky and the United States Supreme Court. It was an entirely academic lecture. There was no mention that he gave a non-Konefsky lecture at BC in 2008, sponsored by the University. You don’t think he was trying to “suggest otherwise”? I made a comment that day exposing the fact that he did lecture at BC in 2008, and the following day, he admitted in his HuffPo piece that he did give the lecture.

      Moreover, while that lecture was mostly about free speech and Jefferson, where Dershowitz gave his views unopposed by anyone else, he did fully outline his views on torture at about minute 35:00. Click on the link provided in the HuffPo article by Dershowitz himself.

      Second, my summary of Dersh’s views on torture is reasonably accurate, and you give me no reason to think otherwise. Basically, he defends torture as a device for saving lives, proposes a legal framework to administer torture, and says that on balance, he is against it. I did not distort anything.

      Finally, as to plagiarism, which I think is the least of his sins, it has not been discredited at all, as it is quite likely that Dershowitz asked Harvard to rule on one citation issue without revealing the actual substance of the plagiarism charge. In other words, Harvard decided that a scholar need not cite a secondary source if he has checked the original, but the question here was whether Dersh, by repeating Joan Peters’s unique 87-page ellipsis and her numerous errors, could have checked the original and come up with this quote himself, for which he gave Peters no credit.

      I see you have nothing to say about his department-sponsored lecture on BDS at Penn last year, or the Tel Aviv U and Hampshire College stories. Do you really believe that his positions on this issue of sponsorship of speeches has not been hypocritical? Seriously?

    • eljay says:

      >> Once again, to argue that there should be a framework for an undesired behavior is not the same thing as supporting it.

      Sure it is. It just means that the support is more narrowly-defined.

    • Cliff says:

      @hoppy,

      Dershowitz sure as hell made it seem like a secret when he accused Schiller of lying – simply because she thought the 2008 lecture was called the K-something Lecture.

      The point of Dersh’s assault on Schiller was to discredit her argument – which was entirely true in spirit. She got the name wrong, which is irrelevant.

      The point is that he was sponsored to speak at BC and without any ‘balance’ and justified torture.

      hoppy said:
      “As far the discredited plagiarism nonsense: you can run with it if you want. It’s yet another pro-Palestinian shibboleth no one believes or cares about outside the pro-Palestinian community.”

      LOL

      Considering no one outside of the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian community knows ANYTHING about this conflict, that’s not very meaningful.

      If you’re aware of this conflict and actively seek out knowledge about the history and the current events, then you’re going to inevitably become knowledgable of these side-issues (ie Dersh vs. Finkelstein and the plagiarism affair).

      Dershowitz did commit plagiarism. He copied the same Mark Twain quote in the same context as another pro-Israel piece of propaganda (also discredited).

      Dershowitz and Joan Peters are liars and have been proven to be so.

      I’d like to see you actually defend either them. Instead, you simply make a superficial statement with implied authority (you have none). As if we should trust that the consensus (among who? oh right, more Zionists LOL) is that Dersh is an honest and respectable intellectual in this issue.

      Your defensive statements all throughout this BC BDS issue are getting increasingly more pathetic (as is your slander of MW on other forums as proposing that ‘Jews control the media’ and other idiotic antisemitic slippery-slopes/straw-mans/etc.)

    • Hostage says:

      It is a great tragedy that we have to be discussing the horrors of torture. . . .it is far better to discuss in advance the kinds of tragic choices we may encounter if we ever confront an actual ticking bomb terrorist case . . . Once again, to argue that there should be a framework for an undesired behavior is not the same thing as supporting it.

      Nice try, but the international community of states and our Courts already have discuss torture in advance. They have condemned and prohibited any such practices. It’s prohibited criminal conduct under the terms of the customary “laws of nations”, international conventions, and the US Constitution.

      Dershowitz is simply advocating that the well-known legal safeguards against inhuman and criminal acts be repealed, e.g. 18 U.S.C. § 242 Deprivation of rights under color of law.

      “Due process of law” is not limited in scope to questions of whether or not evidence obtained by torture is admissible in Court. The United States government and every other country have agreed that torture is “prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever”. See Common Article 3(1)(a) of the Geneva Conventions, The Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, 106 Stat. 73; The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and the applicable cases involving the Fifth, Eighth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, e.g.:

      “The due process clause requires ‘that state action, whether through one agency or another, shall be consistent with the fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions.’”

      – Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278, 56 S.Ct. 461, 80 L.Ed. 682 (1936) link to law.cornell.edu

    • The issue of plagiarism isn’t a ‘Palestinian’ issue at all. It goes to the heart of his integrity and his credibility, and that is why it is important. If he lied about that, he is no scholar and has no business posing as one. He could easily have acknowledged it and apologised for it. But no, the pompous windbag attacks everyone who brings the evidence to the table. He has never satisfactorily answered the charge. Harvard’s secret review provided no explanation of what they considered. Of course you ignore and downplay the evidence – it reveals a posturing egoist who does not have the intellectual rigor or credibility he pretends to. He is all bluster, a smearer and a hypocrite who has never given a satisfactory of his contradictory views on torture, trying to justify it whilst claiming he is against it. What a sap. He just isn’t important, despite his desperate attempts to bluff people that he is. You have failed to provide any evidence for your defence of this buffoon. As usual you ignore the cited evidence and carry on regardless, repeating the same old bogus baloney.

  16. “One lawyer, three opinions.” ~ Alan “Any Way the Wind Blows” Dershowitz.

  17. hophmi says:

    ” There was no mention that he gave a non-Konefsky lecture at BC in 2008, sponsored by the University. You don’t think he was trying to “suggest otherwise”? I made a comment that day exposing the fact that he did lecture at BC in 2008, and the following day, he admitted in his HuffPo piece that he did give the lecture. ”

    No, I don’t. Elsewhere, in his response to this whole brouhaha, he’s linked the 2008 lecture. See, for instance, here: link to algemeiner.com

    What would be the point? The 2008 lecture is online for all to listen to.

    Yes, Dershowitz gave his view on torture at the lecture. Here is his view: Torture has worked, a view which he supports with several examples. Should you ban it nevertheless? He explicitly says you SHOULD ban it.

    ” Basically, he defends torture as a device for saving lives, proposes a legal framework to administer torture, and says that on balance, he is against it. I did not distort anything.”

    Oh please. He gives several examples of torture working in ticking bomb situations. His argument is against those who simplistically say it never works. You confuse his explanation of why the question is complex with his position on torture. As I said above, advocating the legalization of marihuana because people are going to smoke is not the same as saying people should smoke.

    “Finally, as to plagiarism, which I think is the least of his sins, it has not been discredited at all”

    Most of the universe holds that when Harvard University investigates a charge of plagiarism and says it isn’t accurate, that’s the end of the question. You can geshreig all you want about the Mark Twain quote. As I said before, there isn’t a person outside of your partisan circle who could possibly care less about it.

    “I see you have nothing to say about his department-sponsored lecture on BDS at Penn last year, or the Tel Aviv U and Hampshire College stories.”

    You want to prove it was hypocritical? He’s spoken on campuses umpteenth times. Look up the sponsorships and prove him wrong.

    Right now, given the way his political opponents regularly distort his record, despite the fact that I’m not a big fan of his, I’m going to take his word until someone proves otherwise.

    Tel Aviv is not in the United States, and an honorary degree from Omar Barghouti’s graduate school has nothing to do with this case.

    Calling for a boycott of Hampshire College after its decision to vote for divestment also is beside the point here. Once again, the issue is fairly narrow. The question is whether academic departments should be in the business of sponsoring partisan events. BC got into trouble, it now appears, because of the widespread presumption, created by, amongst other things, advertisements listing the PoliSci department as endorsing, and not just sponsoring, and the notion amongst some students that claiming sponsorship and endorsement were not the same thing stretched credulity when every other sponsor was clearly an endorser.

    • David Samel says:

      hophmi, try again. In his Feb 6 Open Zion column, Dersh denied that he gave the 2008 Konefsky lecture. In a comment that day, I noted that he gave another BC lecture in 2008 and that he was trying to conceal it. The next day, on Feb. 7, Dersh admitted that other BC lecture. Is it implausible to suggest that he scanned the comments of his post, or that someone else pointed out his duplicity, forcing him to admit the full truth the following day? You cover up this chronology by simply saying “elsewhere,” he linked to the lecture. Yeah, elsewhere, after his deception was exposed. Are you taking lessons from Dersh?

      On plagiarism, Dersh claims that Harvard investigated the charge and absolved him. But exactly what did they investigate, in response to Dersh’s request? Do you have any idea? Dersh has repeatedly claimed that the only accusation against him was that he did not cite Peters when he checked the original and used it. That is most probably the question decided by Harvard, which was undertaken on his request. The real question was whether Dersh must have taken some quotations from Peters without attribution even though he did not use the original, because the quotes are identical to the weird, sloppy ones she used. Did Harvard investigate that charge? I’m pretty sure they did not, and limited their inquiry to that submitted by dersh. Why don’t you investigate the charge yourself and tell me how you think it’s possible he is without fault?

      You’re right that he has spoken on campus umpteen times. My research skills are not good enough to find out if he was sponsored by a department or school those times. The only ones I know about are BC in 2008, Penn in 2012, and TAU in 2012. All were sponsored. Care to show me some speeches that were not sponsored? And judging from his fulminations about the dangers of sponsorship at BC in 2013, it is incredible that he gave such a sponsored and even endorsed speech against BDS just a year ago. Your unwillingness to recognize such brazen hypocrisy is absurd. btw, TAU is not in the US, but how does that change the issue of academic freedom? Is that something Dersh is only concerned about in the US?

    • Hostage says:

      Oh please. He gives several examples of torture working in ticking bomb situations.

      You do realize that none of the petitioners in the Israeli landmark case on torture accepted the legality of the “ticking time bomb” rationale?

      For it’s part, the High Court specifically rejected the State’s arguments which employed the “necessity defense”. The Court held that it does not constitute a source of statutory authority, which could be used as part of a formal framework that would allow GSS investigators to make use of physical means during the course of interrogations. The Court ruled that “The reasoning underlying our position is anchored in the nature of the “necessity defense.” The defense deals with cases involving an individual reacting to a given set of facts. It is an improvised reaction to an unpredictable event.” So there is no possibility of using that rationale as part of a formal framework to issue a warrant for torture in Israel. link to btselem.org

  18. eGuard says:

    Dersh in Open Zion, Feb 6: When I agreed to give that talk, I was told that the event was being sponsored by Hillel alone. (quoted above).

    Dersh in the Guardian, Feb 8, on that same UPenn speech : I was informed, and believed until now, that the event had been sponsored by Hillel and the Jewish Federation. That is not “Hillel alone”. link to guardian.co.uk

    Dersh changes his writings, once more.

  19. piotr says:

    I think that even the opponent of torture do not fully realize how bad it is. In general, an aspect of warfare is that the boundary of sanity and insanity is breached.

    If you read more detailed accounts of torture and other forms of inhumane treatment as perpetrated in the “war on terror”, a repeating feature is that torture is extended way beyond any rational justification. For example, what kind of “ticking bombs scenario” can explain inhumane treatment that goes on for months and years? Another example: read the reports on Dilawar, it is clear that at the time this poor taxi driver was tormented to death Bagram was like an insane asylum run by the inmates.

    Derschowitz kind of proposed a homeopatic idea: to apply poison in very small controlled doses to obtain beneficial results. But even planning torture has a mind warping effect. The end result is tormenting to death or to insanity a large number of victims. (Incidentally, homeopathy is a bogus idea, which makes the comparison very fitting.)

    Involving courts in the process of torture would not provide any “oversight”, it would merely warp another institution.

    Thus I am not sure if Derschowitz is a hypocrite, at least on the subjective level. Quite possibly he lives in the world spun from violent fantasies and has very little notion of true and false, and even less of good and evil.

    • eljay says:

      >> Thus I am not sure if Derschowitz is a hypocrite …

      I have no doubt that he would not extend to “them” the right to torture of one of “us”, even if a framework were in place and even if “they” felt is was necessary to save lives on “their” side.

      This type of hypocrisy is typical of Zio-supremacists, who see nothing wrong with (some) Jews engaging in – among other things – ethnic cleansing, oppression, (land) theft, colonization, murder and torture, but who see everything wrong with any of this being done to (some) Jews.