Dershowitz unveils new hasbara claim: IDF has lowest rape rate

Alan Dershowitz is at it again. He recently was embarrassed when he bitterly complained that the Political Science Department’s co-sponsorship of the Brooklyn College BDS conference was an egregious violation of students’ academic freedom, only to have it revealed that he gave his own unopposed anti-BDS speech at UPenn last year, sponsored by two departments.

Now his target is the upcoming CUNY conference on “homonationalism and pinkwashing.” While the promotional material states that there will be 189 speakers discussing 32 countries, and that “the most obvious examples [of the subject] are in the Netherlands, Britain and Germany,” Dershowitz knows better. In a recent New York Post editorial, he denounces the conference as just “another hate fest against the Jewish state.” Apparently, the time and effort being spent on the other 31 countries are just a transparent cover for the real object of vilifying Israel.

Dershowitz blames the entire event on CUNY Professor Sarah Schulman, whom he condemns as the type of anti-Semite who blames Jews not only for financial depressions and wars, but also for their positive contributions, which must have a hidden malevolent agenda. Dershowitz focuses on Schulman’s 2011 op-ed in the New York Times, and claims that “she has argued that Israel’s positive approach to gay rights is ‘a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violation of Palestinians human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life’.” Actually, Schulman’s op-ed claims that various “tactics” employed by Israel to “manipulate… the hard-won gains of Israel’s gay community,” and not “Israel’s positive approach to gay rights,” are to blame. Moreover, Dershowitz conceals the fact that Schulman’s op-ed identified four European countries – the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, and the UK – as the origin of this unholy alliance between anti-Muslim fanatics and gay movements and says that the strategy “has now spread from its roots in European xenophobia to become a potent tool in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Dershowitz’s tirade, with its outrageous distortions of the CUNY conference and of Schulman’s position, is nothing new, but there is one striking sentence that appears to be a trial balloon fresh out of Hasbara Central:

And when news surfaced that the Israeli Army has the lowest rate of rape against enemy civilians, radical anti-Zionists argued that this was because Israeli soldiers were so racist that they didn’t find Palestinian women attractive enough to rape!

Of course, Dershowitz provides no link for this encouraging trend in modern warfare, so I e-mailed the professor for a source. Is there actually an authoritative ranking of sexual assault by various countries’ military forces, where Israel appears at the very bottom? That surely is what Dershowitz is implying. And who are these radical anti-Zionists who responded in so offensive a manner?

While waiting for a response, I continued to do research and am convinced that I found the source of this bizarre claim. It seems that in 2007, a grad student at Hebrew University named Tal Nitzan wrote a “prize-winning” paper claiming both that there was a low incidence of rape by the IDF against Palestinian women, and that such restraint had a political purpose: it “strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences – just as organized military rape would have done.” Regardless of the dubious merits of Nitzan’s thesis and the wisdom of awarding it a “teacher’s committee” prize, how did this rather obscure item morph from its modest origin to Dershowitz’s hyperbolic praise of IDF restraint and his indignant condemnation of radical anti-Zionists?

One person who helped is Professor Steven Plaut of the University of Haifa, a man with a despicable record of outright falsification (e.g. Hanan Ashrawi is a “long-time Holocaust denier”) and unapologetic racism. Plaut changed Nitzan’s theory of Jewish soldiers’ “restraint” from raping Palestinians out of respect for “ethnic boundaries” to one in which there was a total “absence of any history of rapes of Arab women by Israeli Jewish soldiers” and the soldiers “do not even regard Arab women as sexually desirable.” Dershowitz eagerly adopted these misinterpretations, then fabricated his own wild exaggerations: Nitzan’s claim of a low IDF rape rate became “news” that “surfaced” about the IDF’s “lowest” rate of civilian rape (lower than any other military); and Nitzan herself, an obscure grad student, became multiple “radical anti-Zionists.” And to cap it all off, note that both the source of the “news” and the offensive reaction to the news are the same person, Tal Nitzan. Read again Dershowitz’s outrageously inaccurate summary of this non-event:

And when news surfaced that the Israeli Army has the lowest rate of rape against enemy civilians, radical anti-Zionists argued that this was because Israeli soldiers were so racist that they didn’t find Palestinian women attractive enough to rape!

Does this bear the slightest resemblance to the actual source of a single obscure Israeli grad student’s questionable thesis?

Of course, if the incidence of civilian rape by the Israeli military really has been reduced to a level Dershowitz finds so praiseworthy, it would be a welcome change from the past. In its founding 1947-49 war, the Israeli military freely engaged in rape as a tool of ethnic cleansing. Israeli historian Benny Morris, in a 2004 interview conducted after his conversion to a Darth Vader political viewpoint, acknowledged:

What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. . . In a large proportion of the cases the event ended with murder. Because neither the victims nor the rapists liked to report these events, we have to assume that the dozen cases of rape that were reported, which I found, are not the whole story. They are just the tip of the iceberg.

Israeli writer Amos Kenan added his personal recollection as an Israeli soldier in a 1989 article in The Nation: “At night, those of us who couldn’t restrain ourselves would go into the prison compounds to fuck Arab women.”  Then there is Amnon Neumann’s painful recollection of an incident in which a fellow soldier raped and murdered a 17-year-old girl.

Much more recently, as Yossi Gurvitz reports, a military rabbi named Eyal Qarim recommended rape of Palestinian women and girls if it serves the purposes of maintaining morale and the army’s fighting ability: “the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge, under the conditions mentioned, for the purpose of the success of the whole.” These are just a sample of the Israeli Jewish admissions that Dershowitz might be compelled to find credible. There is much more evidence of Palestinian documentation of rape that he no doubt would reject outright as Palestinian lies about their victimhood.

It’s always interesting to observe when dedicated purveyors of hasbara come up with a new claim of Israel’s superior morality contrasted with the depravity of its enemies. In Dershowitz’s view, the supposedly “lowest” rate rape is another feather in the cap of the “most moral army in the world,” while the “radical anti-Zionists” perversely attack this model behavior for their own nefarious purposes. Hasbarists struck gold with the claim that “We only kill civilians because Hezbollah/Hamas fires at us from behind human shields,” a line I do not recall seeing before 2006 but one which quickly gained traction and has had considerable staying power, largely through the efforts of Dershowitz and his ilk. I don’t predict as bright a future for this latest concoction. When you combine highly offensive, provably false, and strikingly dumb, the negatives don’t usually cancel each other out.

About David Samel

David Samel is am attorney in New York City.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

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

  1. seafoid says:

    “And when news surfaced that the Israeli Army has the lowest rate of rape against enemy civilians ”

    Modern first world warfare is moving towards taking infantry out of the way and using drones. They don’t tend to rape.

    I would love to see Dersh’s stats. Sounds like they are a crock. Like the rest of his stuff.

    • Ludwig says:

      Yeah I never heard of drone rape

    • Mndwss says:

      What Germans said after world war 2:

      “better to have a russian on your belly, than an american over your head”

      Americans kill. (Russians also kill, but sometimes they only rape.)

      Americans and Israelis kill from a distance. And then they are proud that they do not have sex with their dead victims…

  2. During the Soviet era, ‘fellow travellers’ who praised the Soviet system were often hit with the retort: ”If you love the USSR so much, why don’t you go and live there?”

    A bit glib, no doubt, but it still makes a valid and not easily answerable point. Could it be that these ‘Communists’ enjoyed their lives in a prosperous Western democracy just a little too much?

    So I would like to say to ‘diaspora’ Zionist hoodlums like Dershowitz: ”If you love Israel so much, why don’t you go and live there?” Could it be that you enjoy your life among the gentiles, in a prosperous Western democracy, just a little too much?

  3. Citizen says:

    Stalin, like Eyal Qarim, also gave his troops a free check to rape German women, and the soviet troops did so en masse, same as the Jewish troops fighting for “independence” and “self governance.”

    Over 2 million German female kids and women were raped by the soviet troops: link to

    Pause, please, and think about that historical fact.

    • seafoid says:

      link to

      “The wars of Israel […] are mitzvah wars, in which they differ from the rest of the wars the nations wage among themselves. Since, essentially, a war is not an individual matter, but rather nations wage war as a whole, there are cases in which the personality of the individual is “erased” for the benefit of the whole. And vice versa: sometimes you risk a large unit for the saving of an individual, when it is essential for purposes of morale. One of the important and critical values during war is maintaining the army’s fighting ability […]

      As in war the prohibition against risking your life is broken for the benefit of others, so are the prohibitions against immorality and of kashrut. Wine touched by gentiles, consumption of which is prohibited in peacetime, is allowed at war, to maintain the good spirit of the warriors. Consumption of prohibited foods is permitted at war (and some say, even when kosher food is available), to maintain the fitness of the warriors, even though they are prohibited during peacetime. Just so, war removes some of the prohibitions on sexual relations (gilui arayot in the original – YZG), and even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime (under the specific terms) out of understanding for the hardship endured by the warriors. And since the success of the whole at war is our goal, the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge (yetzer ha’ra in the original -YZG), under the conditions mentioned, for the purpose of the success of the whole.”

      • Eva Smagacz says:

        Shorter Eyal Qarim: If it’s good for the Israel, prohibitions against immorality are lifted.

        • seafoid says:

          That is why Zionism’s land fetish is so dangerous. Zionism is more than just bread and butter settler colonialism. It’s religion and settler colonialism.
          Anything can be done for the sake of the land. But in the process the whole point of the religion is obliterated.

  4. seafoid says:

    Glen Greenwald on war.

    link to

    “Every war – particularly protracted ones like the “War on Terror” – demands sustained dehumanization campaigns against the targets of the violence. Few populations will tolerate continuous killings if they have to confront the humanity of those who are being killed. The humanity of the victims must be hidden and denied. That’s the only way this constant extinguishing of life by their government can be justified or at least ignored. That was the key point made in the extraordinarily brave speech given by then-MSNBC reporter Ashleigh Banfield in 2003 after she returned from Iraq, before she was demoted and then fired: that US media coverage of US violence is designed to conceal the identity and fate of its victims”

    The IDF is a dehumanisation machine.
    Boasting about its rape record is straight out of 1984.

  5. tokyobk says:

    Dershowitz’s statement actually does not depend on what he believes or what is the actual rate of rape (and I believe that armies always rape and always underreport).

    He is simply making the point that any presumably good thing about Israel will be used to prove how terrible is. A gay pride parade in Tel Aviv cannot indicate relative security for gays but only planned hasbara to cover other crimes.

    • ”A gay pride parade in Tel Aviv cannot indicate relative security for gays but only planned hasbara to cover other crimes.”

      Perhaps if Israel’s apologists didn’t make such a point of ‘pinkwashing’ the occupation by going on and on about how wonderfully liberal and gay-friendly they are, then pro-Palestinians would be happy to admit that, for all its many many crimes, Israel is at least relatively friendly to gays. But when gays are used as some sort of Potemkin village by Israel, then yes, we are right to be cynical about it.

      Oh, and Dershowitz never ‘simply makes a point’. Ever. He is always looking to spin things to make Israel seem like a put-upon victim. Always.

    • gamal says:

      you know when i can overcome my racism and burning sense of inferiority, no, no,

      even then i am impervious to Israels beauty, and the beastliness of Arabs, my loss no doubt, but how should i be penalized,

      say if i harboured homophobic attitudes, in what way should my rights be curtailed, how does this pertain to the insignificant minority of Israeli’s who may also harbour such feelings, what should be done with them, they could be designated “Arab”, to ensure that they do not enjoy rights which they are insufficiently beautiful to merit.

      to what would you ascribe Israeli superiority in this respect, something intrinsic? or is it just adventitious and does that matter?

      What we are really saying here is that some peoples (peoples mind you not people) should what? have their rights curtailed, due to hailing from less than ideal environments, according to some universal criteria to which you have access, i mean its not just gays is it, the average Israeli citizen is probably, wouldn’t you say, treated better by his/her state than the average Arab, or Palestinian, what extra-consideration, rather than a mere contemplation of their relative beauty, do you think they should get in respect of their admirable and self-evident superiority?

      why do Arabs live in barbarous kleptocracies and other repellent polities? and you are surely not suggesting seriously that Israel is not responsible for conditions on the WB and in Gaza, you may concede they have a little influence perhaps? and thus a little responsibility?

    • David Samel says:

      bk I would say you missed the point but you actually missed two. First is my point that Dershowitz fabricated this claim out of whole cloth. In the course of making his larger argument in defense against the pinkwashing charge, he put forth this absurdity, genuinely hoping that people would believe it. The second point is Schulman’s. I don’t think she would have any issue with Israel’s gay community having a parade. She warns against the effort to co-opt worldwide gay support for Israel and to place its supposedly progressive attitude above freedom for Palestinians. She also objects to actual alliances made between Islamophobic movements and gay organizations.

  6. Avi_G. says:

    a military rabbi named Eyal Qarim recommended rape of Palestinian women and girls if it serves the purposes of maintaining morale and the army’s fighting ability: “the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge, under the conditions mentioned, for the purpose of the success of the whole.”

    Do you suppose if I brought this to the attention of local synagogues where I live, they will bother looking into it and issuing a condemnation?

    None of them will bother to look into it of course, because the claim is anti-Semitic. Jews don’t do that, you see. And the messenger will be considered an anti-Semite, too.

    Then the Rabbi at my local synagogue will go on droning about the evils of Islam and Moslems.

  7. pabelmont says:

    TheDersh ™ has not, presumably, responded to the request, however politely framed, by a possibly radical anti-Zionist, for source of his wonderful and possibly not entirely made-up-of-whole-cloth information about rape. Maybe he read that quote in “From Time Immemorial”, a wonderful source of quotable materials — even if itself completely discredited by Norman Finkelstein (another radical anti-Zionist, or used to be so considered).

    • Avi_G. says:

      pabelmont says:
      March 4, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      TheDersh ™ has not, presumably, responded to the request, however politely framed, by a possibly radical anti-Zionis

      People like to use crutches when they attempt to avoid answering important questions.

      Another person with a god complex like Dershowitz is Jeremy Slater. You could press him firmly to answer a question, he won’t respond and only hint that he responds to polite questions only. Then when he is asked politely and with extreme care, but the questions are inconvenient for him to answer, he resorts to claiming he only answers “serious” questions. That’s, incidentally, one of the words to which Slater masturbates, “seriousness” and “serious”. He’s also, let’s not forget, a professor emeritus. In other words, his arguments gain intrinsic validity and credibility by virtue of him and his title making said arguments, not by virtue of his arguments being either valid or convincing.

      • marc b. says:

        Then when he is asked politely and with extreme care, but the questions are inconvenient for him to answer, he resorts to claiming he only answers “serious” questions. That’s, incidentally, one of the words to which Slater masturbates, “seriousness” and “serious”.

        thanks for the morning laugh. i nearly shot coffee through my nose.

  8. kma says:

    yeah, and IDF doesn’t torture anyone to death, either.
    (or steal or murder civilians or brag about it or lie about it or..)

  9. marc b. says:

    has anyone talked so much about issues that they know so little about? ‘dershowitz’. yiddish for ‘gag reflex’ i think. in any event, this is superficial crap. dershowitz leaves out the facts that the police and prison system, including medical professionals, are integral parts of the military complex in israel dealing with unruly palestinians, although such personnel are not technically part of the IDF. so even if we could rely on the statistics cited, they would leave out a large pool of potential rapists. (look to investigaions and reports on rape in US prison system.) and apparently it never occurred to dershowitz that ‘rape’ (he has an interesting philosophical history on this subject) doesn’t have to be forced sexual intercourse between parties of the opposite gender. there are repeated, credible documented cases of male-on-male sexual assault/battery, and injuries from such attacks, as part the process of interrogation by the IDF, military intelligence, police forces etc. including sexual battery on minors and repeated threats of sexual battery against minors as a tactic to elicit confessions, obtain evidence against others, etc. (or so they say. i don’t even give them ‘credit’ for the use of this tactic as a means of gaining intelligence. it appears to me to be extra-judicial punishment in many cases, or more grotesquely a method of undermining the evolution of palestinian leadership through trauma.)

  10. I like (as in “am fascinated by”) the rabbinical blessing of atrocities if it serves the interest of the Jewish state.

    It causes me to recall a scene in “I, Claudius” where a centurian does not want to execute a virgin minor, so he is instructed to rape the girl first in order to salve his conscience.

    If the rapes and reporting of it served the expansion of Zionist power, I have no doubt there would be an Israeli official paraphrasing Colenel Kurtz of “Apocalype Now!” when he observed, “I remember when I was with Special Forces… seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember… I… I… I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn’t know what I wanted to do! And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it… I never want to forget. And then I realized… like I was shot… like I was shot with a diamond… a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God… the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men… trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love… but they had the strength… the strength… to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling… without passion… without judgment… without judgment! Because it’s judgment that defeats us.

  11. piotr says:

    I also observed that IDF is improving its behavior. For example, soldiers were defecating in Palestinians bedrooms and offices, and this was rectified by the invention of machines that apply extremely smelly liquid, a.k.a. skunk water. Much more dignified.

  12. American says:

    Dershowitz gets worse with age….I read somewhere that fanatics of his type do become increasingly wild and double down on their fanaticism with age…natural brain aging I guess.
    But lately I have noticed an increase in all kinds of stuff Israel related, large and small, being put out to the public and it seems, like Dershowitz’s, some increasing exaggrated or something ‘shocking’ in Israel’s favor.
    The other day I saw this in the NYT and the numbers blew my mind….is this even possible? I am suspicous that it is something to re infuse the holocaust and keep it dominate among Jews to increase Israel support.

    Holocuast Museum Researchers Discover 42,000 more Nazi concentration camps and Jewish ghettos

    link to

    The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945. The research could have legal implications as well by helping a small number of survivors document their continuing claims over unpaid insurance policies, looted property, seized land and other financial matters.

    • tree says:


      Your link was bad. Let’s see if this is any better.

      link to

      This appears to be the most outrageous statement to me:

      The lead editors on the project, Geoffrey Megargee and Martin Dean, estimate that 15 million to 20 million people died or were imprisoned in the sites that they have identified as part of a multivolume encyclopedia.

      Citing figures of “died or were imprisoned” seems suspect to me. Its an odd combination to put together. Why not merely “imprisoned” as clearly anyone at such a camp would have been imprisoned before dying there. The Times gives an example of one such man who was by his own account kept at 5 different camps before being liberated. Did the researchers count him 5 times?

      Granted, the researchers are acknowledging that the victims weren’t only Jews ( who only numbered 16 million in the entire world in 1939, and 9 million in Europe), but still the numbers seem way too high, and overhyped.

    • Taxi says:

      Rounded up numbers are always suspect – for instance why 42,500 and not 42,499 or 42,501? Know waddamean?!

      Really bugs me when the headcount of victims in any atrocity is rounded up.

  13. ToivoS says:

    “We only kill civilians because Hezbollah/Hamas fires at us from behind human shields,” a line I do not recall seeing before 2006

    Actually this line has been around much longer than that. I don’t know when I first heard it but in 1990 or so I was talking with an Israeli veteran from the 1948 war. He described scenes of Arab men literally using their own women as shields as they fired at Israeli soldiers. He implied he witnessed this but when I pressed him on the question, he just said “it was widely known”.

    This man, BTW, was sabra and moved to the US in 1952 never to return to Israel. Never did figure him out — someone who had internalized the anti-Arab racism, support for Zionism but a de facto rejection of the country of his birth.

    • David Samel says:

      Thanks for the history lesson, Toivo. I have been wondering how long this claim has been made, and suspected it must have been tried out before 2006, but that is the first time I can remember it being widely used and believed. I also recall that when the 2008-2009 Israeli attack on Gaza began, I was initially surprised that this excuse that had proven so valuable in Lebanon in 2006 was not being used. However, after a few days, sure enough, I started hearing it everywhere.

    • Shegetz says:

      The ‘hasbara’ is older. Much older.

      I recall arguing with a friends’ mother over a poster in their house with a picture of a tank inside the first floor of a wrecked house and the block letter caption:


      She regaled me with tales of how utterly evil Arabs are because they hide their tanks inside houses with families living on the floor above so that they would be killed and could blame the Israelis for it. This was in 1978.

      I never believed a word of it then. Don’t believe a word of it now.

  14. edwardm says:

    From such as these the IDF was spawned.
    link to
    On November 6, 1948, ( Yosef) Nachmani wrote: “In Safsaf, after … the inhabitants had raised a white flag, the [soldiers] collected and separated the men and women, tied the hands of fifty-sixty fellahin [peasants] and shot and killed them and buried them in a pit. Also, they raped several women…” After listing alleged atrocities in other villages—Eilaboun, Farradiyya, and Saliha—Nachmani writes: “Where did they come by such a measure of cruelty, like Nazis?” Is there no more humane way of expelling the inhabitants than by such methods?”
    I wonder if he also regretted that Bernadotte was murdered in a “Terrorist way” – instead of in “more humane” way.

  15. RE: “Dershowitz blames the entire event on CUNY Professor Sarah Schulman, whom he condemns as the type of anti-Semite who blames Jews not only for financial depressions and wars, but also for their positive contributions, which must have a hidden malevolent agenda.” ~ David Samel

    MY COMMENT: Like many successful attorneys here in the U.S., Dershowitz lies (or at a minimum, grotesquely distorts) with abandon! ! ! Mostly because Dershowitz and his ilk are very well paid to do so.


    . . . He [Mark Twain] quotes his childhood friend as saying, “You tell me where a man gets his corn pone (bread), and I’ll tell you what his opinions are.” Meaning that one’s opinions can be told based on where that person got their bread. . .
    NOTE: I believe Twain when speaking about this used ‘pinions in the place of “opinions”. If not, he should have!

    SOURCE – link to

    P.S. ANOTHER RELEVANT QUOTATION: “You can’t use tact with a Congressman! A Congressman is a hog! You must take a stick and hit him on the snout!” ~ From ‘The Education of Henry Adams’, By Henry Brooks Adams (American journalist, historian, academic and novelist, 1838-1918)
    The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams – link to
    The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography (Google eBook) – link to

    P.P.S. Henry Brooks Adams’ paternal grandfather was Pres. John Quincy Adams, and his great grandfather was Pres. John Adams.

    • ● P.P.P.S. RE: “Like many successful attorneys here in the U.S., Dershowitz lies (or at a minimum, grotesquely distorts) with abandon! ! !” ~ me (from above)

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      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to

  16. kayq says:

    If Dersh’s psycho claims are true, then can he please explain the amount of rape rates — which often go unheard of — that occured in 1948 and the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres.

  17. a blah chick says:

    The Dersh is always pulling stuff out of his ass.

    One horrendous incident involved the capture of young Bedouin girl in the Negev in 1949 by an army patrol. She was taken back to the camp and gang raped over a period of several days before being shot and buried in an unmarked grave. The soldiers involved were tried in secret and the case buried until it was made public about ten years ago, 50 years after the crime. I hope that someday someone will be able to uncover this poor girl’s name, she deserves to be remembered.

    I can recall this whole “the IDF doesn’t rape” from the 70′s. My guess is that they rape at the same rate as other armies, assaulting other soldiers, civilians and probably the odd tourist.

  18. David:

    Around 2002 Israel’s apologists were claiming that the IDF was the most moral army in the world because instead of bombing refugee camps from the air they conducted house-to-house searches. Dershowitz himself claimed as much in The Case for Israel:

    Not only was Jenin not a massacre or an unparalleled catastrophe but it is regarded by many as a model of how to conduct urban warfare against terrorists hiding among civilians. (…) Instead of bombing the terrorists’ camp from the air, as the United States did in Afghanistan and as Russia did in Chechnya, with little risk to their own soldiers but much to civilians, Israeli infantrymen entered the camp, going house to house in search of terrorists and bomb-making equipment, which they found. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers and fifty-two Palestinians, many of whom were combatants, were killed.

    Then in 2006 Israel conducted the Lebanon war almost exclusively from the air, “with little risk to their own soldiers but much to civilians.” The Zionists had to find some new excuse, and what they came up with was the claim that because “the terrorists” hid among civilians, a large number of civilian casualties was to be expected. The previous line about the morality of house-to-house urban warfare vs. the immorality of carpet-bombing was completely dropped, now that Israel itself was carpet-bombing.

    That’s why you began to hear the “they hide among civilians” argument more around that date.

    • David Samel says:

      Ibrahim, leave it to you, a longtime Hasbara watcher, to provide some context. I remember well the line about house-to-house searches in Jenin and the terrible toll in IDF life ( I believe all 23 soldiers dies when one house was booby-trapped), all because they were too concerned with Palestinian life to bomb from the air. Dersh not only used this line in his book, he continues to do so. I saw him recently, either in his debate with Susan Abulhawa or in person at Fordham Law School, where he talked about how Israel had the perfect right to bomb Jenin from the air, but was too concerned with civilian casualties, resulting in the loss of 23 soldiers.

      But until you mentioned it, I had not connected the conflict between that line and the hide-behind-civilians line that became so prevalent in 2006. The worst single incident in that assault was the bombing of a residential building in Qana in which 29 people, mostly children, were killed. Dersh went on at great length in a subsequent book about how Hezbollah was congratulating itself over this great fortunate PR event, because the poor Israelis had fired on nearby terrorists and missed and accidentally struck the building. Meanwhile, Israeli spokespersons had difficulty deciding on an excuse: was it inaccurate aim, or did they strike the building on purpose because they thought terrorists not civilians were inside? Who cares, when you have effective speakers like Dershowitz lying on your behalf.

    • marc b. says:

      HB, dershowitz’s argumentation, like all zionists, follows an easily identifiable pattern called the rule of superlatives that’s composed of two parts: 1. whatever tactic is being employed by israel is justified; 2. israel’s sensitivity and skill while employing the tactic is historically unparalleled. so the IDF is not just a highly disciplined force, capable of etc. etc. it is ‘the most moral army in the world’, the reverse side of this coin being that the jewish people, i.e. israel, are facing unprecedented threats, always. (and by the way, the word ‘history’ is left out, as in the ‘most moral army in the history of the world’ as it is assumed that all prior history was leading to this blessed event, the creation and ascendence of the only jewish, democratic theocracy in the middle east. which leads to another point, the inherent contradictions of zionist argumentation, another important rule, or more accurately phenomenon, ‘israel as oxymoron’. jerry slater could explain this, but you can only understand the explanation if you allow yourself to fall into a trance and nod silently while he speaks.)

  19. talknic says:

    That people like Alan Dershowitz bear false witness completely against the basic common sense tenets of Judaism, is really quite bizarre. Especially when they do it on behalf of the Jewish State.

    • seafoid says:

      If you look at all of the Mitzvot or how to live a Jewish life for the orthodox, many of them are common sense- how to keep out of trouble, not take too much on , treat others with respect . Zionism throws all of this out the window- history suggests this isn’t going to fly long term.

  20. Pamela Olson says:

    Yeah, I’ve been hearing the “hide behind civilians” line since I first got involved in 2003. At least two different “pro-Israel” students at Stanford knew a guy who knew a guy who refused to shoot at a Palestinian who was hiding behind a child, and as a result he was seriously injured by gunfire.

    If true (?), that was apparently supposed to generalize to the fact that all Palestinian combatants hide behind children, and no Palestinian children are killed except in this kind of situation. And, of course, the Israeli army was absolutely the most moral in the world. (Apparently all other armies simply shoot through the children in these situations.)

    By the way, I put “pro-Israel” in quotation marks because I don’t think people like this actually behave or believe in a way that is good for Israelis, and I don’t like things being polarized between “pro-Israel” and “pro-Palestine,” as if the two are mutually exclusive. Israelis have a huge amount to gain when their neighbors enjoy equal human rights (though of course certain business interests, politicians, ideologues, and land thieves have a lot to lose).

    Is there a less awkward way of saying it?

    • marc b. says:

      pamela, what’s particularly noxious about this ‘hiding behind ..’ meme (aside from the false moral dichotomy of craven palestinians versus righteous israelis) is that there is a well-documented history of the IDF’s policy of using palestinian civilians as human shields. adalah’s website has all of the pertinent documentation involving its case against the IDF, supreme court rulings enjoining the IDF’s use of human shields, etc. zionists turning the world on its head.