As expected, Alan Dershowitz responded to the American Studies Association support of BDS movement’s by smearing the voters as anti-Semitic (reprinted from Haaretz.) Nothing new here. Nor was it new that Dershowitz told the following story in support of his condemnation:
[It] reminds me of the bigoted response made by Harvard’s notorious anti-Semitic president A. Laurence Lowell, when he imposed anti-Jewish quotas near the beginning of the twentieth century. When asked why he singled out Jews for quotas, he replied, “Jews cheat.” When the great Judge Learned Hand reminded him that Christians cheat too, Lowell responded, “You’re changing the subject. We are talking about Jews now.”
Dershowitz has been repeatedly peddling this story for over a decade. Given Dershowitz’s extremely uncomfortable relationship with the truth – e.g., here, here, here, here, and here (and that’s merely my own efforts, a small portion of Dershwatch exposés) – the first question is whether this rather far-fetched tale of brazen anti-Semitism actually occurred. A 1992 book authored by a prominent professor gives a very different account of Hand’s response to Lowell’s quota proposal. It was not the snappy verbal exchange about cheating depicted above, but a widely-circulated letter from Hand to Harvard:
I cannot agree that a limitation based upon race will in the end work out any good purpose. If the Jew does not mix well with the Christian it is no answer to segregate him. Most of these qualities which the Christian dislikes in him are, I believe, the direct result of that very policy in the past. . .
If anyone could devise an honest test for character, perhaps it would serve well. I doubt its feasibility except to detect formal and obvious delinquencies. Short of it, it seems to me that students can be chosen only by tests of scholarship, unsatisfactory though those no doubt are . . .
A college may gather together men of a common tradition, or it may put its faith in learning. If so, it will I suppose take its chance that in learning lies the best hope, and that a company of scholars will prove better than any other company.
Who was the professor who gave this far more credible version of the events? Alan Dershowitz in Chutzpah! (pp. 67-68). What transformed this story so dramatically in the decade between Dershowitz’s 1992 book and his 2002 version of the Lowell-Hand affair? Apparently Dershowitz was dissatisfied with the points actually expressed by the two men, especially the lofty prose, and decided to simplify them for his readers by manufacturing a dumbed-down encounter that never occurred. Of course the story of yet another Dershowitz fabrication is hardly surprising, though it never ceases to amaze me how this guy not only gets away with lying, but has so much confidence that he will do so. Chutzpah, indeed!