It must have been tough, but Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and investigative reporter tracked Alan Dershowitz down in Tel Aviv for comment on the Steve Bannon controversy. And longtime Dershowitz followers may be surprised to learn that he is defending the man who could become the most highly-placed American official accused of anti-Semitism in many decades, in this interview with Aaron Klein:
I think we have to be very careful before we accuse any particular individual of being an anti-Semite . . . And I think one has to be very careful about using the term anti-Semitic.
But “care” about using the words anti-Semite has never been the hallmark of Dershowitz’s long career as a polemicist.
Was he being “careful” when he said that Black Lives Matter was guilty of an anti-Semitic “blood libel” in charging Israel with genocide against Palestinians?
Was he “careful” when he likened Judge Richard Goldstone to Nazi Dr. Mengele after Goldstone put out a report highly critical of Israel in 2009, which Dershowitz termed a “blood libel”?
Was he practicing “care” when he flatly described the late Harvard President Nathan Pusey as an anti-Semite in his book Chutzpah, and accused the entire American legal profession of anti-Semitism?
“Upon learning of the way law was practiced in American firms, I resolved never to become part of that system.”
More from the Breitbart interview:
I don’t think anybody should be called or accused of being anti-Semitic unless the evidence is overwhelming.
Was the evidence “overwhelming” with Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu — when Dershowitz accused them of mainstreaming anti-Semitism because they were critical of Israel? And said that Carter had the “blood of thousands” on his hands?
Dershowitz says that Bannon is a friend of Jews:
The evidence certainly suggests that Mr. Bannon has very good relationships with individual Jews. My former researcher, Joel Pollak, is an Orthodox Jew who takes off the Jewish holidays, who is a committed Jew and a committed Zionist, and he has worked closely with him. He has been supportive of Israel.
Is that the one and only criterion of whether someone is an anti-Semite or not? Being supportive of Israel? I think it might be.
So, I haven’t seen any evidence of personal anti-Semitism on the part of Bannon. I think the [Breitbart] headline about a Conservative Republican being a renegade Jew was ill-advised. But it doesn’t suggest to me anti-Semitism. It suggests to me a degree of carelessness.
“Ill-advised.” So who “advised” Stephen Bannon to make that nasty crack about Bill Kristol? Why weren’t Walt and Mearsheimer only “ill-advised” and “careless,” instead of, as Dershowitz said, guilty of writing a “hate-filled screed against Jewish participation in American politics.”
Dershowitz goes on to apologize for Trump.
I think the larger problem – and it’s a very complicated one today – is how you assess a person who himself might not have negative characteristics, but who has widespread appeal to people who do. And I think that problem exists on the right and the left. I think there are left-wing candidates who appeal to some of the worst bigots on the hard left. Anti-Semites on the hard left. Anti-Israel people on the hard left. And I think the same thing is probably true of some very right-wing conservatives who appeal advertently or inadvertently to people whose values they probably themselves don’t agree with.
He is obviously worried that Trump may not be pro-Israel, and so he is sucking up to him.
But it is not legitimate to call somebody an anti-Semite because you might disagree with their policies. Or because in one instance, like in the Bannon case, an aggrieved wife in a divorce may have said something which he himself has denied having said. I think you always have to have a presumption of innocence and of good faith.
“Innocence” and “good faith?” Doesn’t that describe Students for Justice in Palestine, who Dershowitz has not hesitated to call anti-Semites? And what about anyone who supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel — Dershowitz has accused them too of anti-Semitism.