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Dershowitz justifies war on Iran (and Iraq? again?)– and Mort Zuckerman rides shotgun– in fresh attacks on BDS conference

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The Israel apologists are out in full force as the Penn BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) conference kicks off tonight. The usual suspects (plus a Philadelphia Daily News columnist) are employing the same tired smears to discredit the BDS movement.

Alan Dershowitz delivered a speech to “a full house” which garnered “applause throughout the talk,” the Daily Pennsylvanian reports.  The university paper also reports:

The Chair of the Penn Board of Trustees, David Cohen, introduced the event with a message on behalf of President Amy Gutmann. “We are unwavering in our support of Israel” he read. “We do not support the message or the goals of BDS…”

Penn’s Political Science and Philosophy, Politics and Economics departments, Penn Democrats and College Republicans were among the other sponsors of the event.

For more on David Cohen and his role at NBC, see Phil Weiss’ post here.

Here’s some of what Dershowitz said last night in his Jewish Federations-sponsored speech (taken from notes that are imperfect, so these aren’t direct quotes):

–Israel needs to send more women and people of color to make its case.

–Professors at the University of Pennsylvania who support BDS are complicit with evil.

–Protecting Israel is one of the great human rights issues of the 21st century.

–(During the audience Q and A): Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein hate America. They hate liberalism. They hate Western values. Make it clear that people who love liberty love Israel.

–Attacking Iran would not be preemptive, it would be reactive. Iran is already engaging in war with Israel. It has armed Hezbollah, Hamas….Israel has a right to attack.

–2 state solution would require a military presence in Jordan Valley in case there’s an incursion from Iraq. Iraq is becoming Iran. They take their orders from Iran.

–(In response to an audience member asking how to respond to an Arab student who says, you support gay rights but you took my land):

The land which is now Israel was barren land…Israeli policy was to never throw indigenous Arabs off the land. Israel’s birth certificate is cleaner than almost any modern country’s birth certificate. It was established legally. You can complain about America or Canada or Australia or New Zealand. Israel was much more humane.

–Palestinians have been on the wrong side of every war. They wanted to establish a concentration camp in Nablus [in the context of World War Two].

(To get a sense of Dershowitz’s support for torture and violence, read Max Blumenthal’s Op-Ed in the Daily Pennsylvanian.)

But Dershowitz’s rhetoric is nothing compared to the hysterical editorial printed by the New York Daily News today, surely reflecting owner and right-wing Israel supporter Mort Zuckerman’s line on BDS:

The University of Pennsylvania, one of America’s most respected bastions of higher education, plays host on Friday to the start of an odious conference destined to pulse with anti-Semitism.

Penn ought to be ashamed.

Called the National BDS Conference, the event is dedicated to undermining the very existence of Israel on the libel that the country is an illegitimate “occupation” and guilty of subjecting Palestinians to “apartheid” akin to how South Africa so brutally oppressed blacks…

In America, dangerous and reprehensible speech is best met with the truth. Spoken loud and clear. Spoken directly to the forces of hate. So if you’re near Philly and can spare the time, trek down to the BDS conference and tell them just how wrong they are.

And finally, Stu Bykofsky, who once wrote “ONE MONTH from The Anniversary, I’m thinking another 9/11 would help America,” pens this column:

One week after Holocaust Remembrance Day, the carnival of hate known as the National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Conference arrives at the University of Pennsylvania today, its clown car stocked with lies, half-lies, white lies and bald-faced lies, playing to the ignorant.

It gets no sympathy from Penn, which rejects its theme. Penn believes in free speech, as does Israel, the target of the hate fest. Free speech, and most human rights embedded in Western societies, are absent in Arab states.

That is the truth, which is poison to BDS, which immorally equates Israel with white-dominated South Africa, and even Nazi Germany. That’s what follows when you ally yourself with those who deny the Holocaust.

When Jeffrey Goldberg employed similar rhetoric, likening the BDS movement with Nazi Germany, this is what I wrote:

Goldberg, and others like him, are guilty of conflating Israel with Judaism, and Jews with Israelis. The BDS movement is not an economic boycott directed against Jews; it is a boycott movement directed against the State of Israel, which labels itself the Jewish State, because of its flagrant violations of international law and its continued occupation of Palestinian land. As Alisa Solomon, co-editor of Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, told me in 2009, “it’s a very dubious and dangerous collapse when ‘Jew’ and ‘Israel’ are conflated. Anti-Semites do it a lot, and unfortunately, powers of the Israeli state do it as well.”

Invoking Nazi Germany’s policy of boycotting Jewish-owned businesses as a way to smear the BDS movement is a cheap trick that has no merit. Nazi Germany instituted a blanket boycott, with no end in sight, that was directed at a persecuted minority just because of their religious faith. The BDS movement is targeting a state, asking Israel to comply with their obligations under international law, because of their unjust and oppressive policies towards the Palestinian people. There are many Jewish organizations that support the movement, including inside Israel.

This is nothing less than a full-scale campaign to tar the BDS movement as anti-Semitic and akin to Nazi Germany. I’ll leave you with Omar Barghouti’s eloquent response in the UPENN student paper, which Adam Horowitz highlighted earlier:

As to the venomous and patently false anti-Semitism smear thrown recklessly and maliciously at BDS activists in an explicit attempt to bully them into silence, it is increasingly seen today as a weapon of intellectual terror that is employed to stifle debate and free speech when the subject is Israel’s occupation and apartheid or the generous U.S. support for both. This time around, though, with the BDS movement’s solid human rights and international law credentials and track record, the anti-Semitism smear is hardly working.

BDS is categorically opposed to all forms of racism, including Islamophobia, anti-black racism and anti-Semitism. Anchored in international law and universal principles of human rights, BDS calls for equal rights for all humans, without discrimination. This universalist commitment has enabled BDS to spread in recent years at a spectacular rate within the mainstream of western societies, achieving one success after another, in the economic, academic and cultural boycott spheres. Israel is conceding that it is losing the battle for hearts and minds not just in Europe but also on U.S. campuses. Thus the panic, the vilification and the bullying attempts to crush the BDS conference at Penn.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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36 Responses

  1. seafoid on February 3, 2012, 1:58 pm

    “Professors at the University of Pennsylvania who support BDS are complicit with evil.”

    “It is the duty of the international community to prevent evil and nuclear [weapons] from coming together. That is the obligations of most of the leaders of the free world, one which they must meet,” Peres said.

    Great hasbara relay there from the Dersh . I imagine when he dies he’ll be put on a Zionist horse in the manner of El Cid.

    Does this evil shtick still work with dumb Americans? It would get laughed out of town in Europe.

    Evil is Knieval. Denying people their humanity is not part of Judaism and is plain wrong. Bombing other countries is wrong. Leave the decent people of Iran out of Israel’s Palestinian problem.

    And there is no access to the free world for the people of Gaza.

  2. tombishop on February 3, 2012, 2:07 pm

    All those who are attacking supporters of BDS should read Albert Einstein and others letter to the New York Times on December 2, 1948 protesting Menachem Begin’s visit to New York:

    • seafoid on February 3, 2012, 3:02 pm

      Begin was the father of Likud. They won the 1977 election and Israel has followed them since then.

      • Theo on February 4, 2012, 8:23 am

        I really see no difference in israeli politics regardless which party is in power. Netanyahoo or Peres, what is the difference, they both are war criminals, as most other top politicians in Israel are.
        Coming home, do you see much diffrence between our two political parties? Once, yes, but now they both sing the same song and get paid from the same paymasters.

    • tombishop on February 3, 2012, 4:53 pm

      The scan of the actual newspaper article is here:

      • anonymouscomments on February 4, 2012, 2:26 am

        also here

        i always found it amazing how SCARCE this scathing NYT editorial was. scrubbed from history, though it references begin, jewish terrorism, deir yassin, and fascist tendances in what became likud (revisionist zionists). like 3 places on the web, and all obscure and “questionable”. WTF.

        i swear the internet is going to get sanitized in time. i fear my kids or grandkids, should i have any, will have less access to knowledge than we do now. most people do not *care* now, but this may be the peak of accessibility to unfiltered knowledge. the state or global powers need to react against such diversity of ideas/history/ideology, as it breeds independent thought and feeds dissension and resistance. a second book burning is in order, and i think it will come in the form of a controlled and corporate internet.

      • MRW on February 4, 2012, 6:32 am


        That Letter to the Editor was signed by Arendt and Einstein, among others.

        Here is the link to the original on NYT:

        Title is:
        New Palestine Party; Visit of Menachen Begin and Aims of Political Movement Discussed

        Thanks for this.

      • Citizen on February 4, 2012, 9:29 am

        Yes, hence the importance of Wikileaks and its fate. There is a battle over whether any government can classify all significant facts versus, does the public have a right to know everything government does? The mainstream media is on the side of the government, as it has demonstrated repeatedly. Which will set you free, the truth or the lies? Maybe the question is: free to do what, free from what (besides the truth)? For example, on a relatively mundane (yet very significant) level considering the range of what is at stake, MAC gives us great products, beautiful and really functional in terms of gathering facts and sizing up conflicting opinion on virtually anything, great communication products as well, but would MAC be so well-received if we all knew the work conditions of those who make MAC products in China? Would Americans go one way or another–if they knew all the pros and cons of our de facto illegal immigration issue. And, to the point here, what if all Americans knew all the facts about Israel and our “special relationship” with it? And ditto re the US-Iraq situation since Bush Jr attacked Iraq? Ditto re Afghanistan & Iran.

  3. Justice Please on February 3, 2012, 2:17 pm

    A busy weekend. The BDS event, on Saturday World Can’t Wait and several other orgs protesting against war, sanctions and assasinations against Iran, and the Munich Security Conference runs the whole weekend with a major protest coming on Saturday.

    Rise up people!

  4. pabelmont on February 3, 2012, 2:23 pm

    ““We are unwavering in our support of Israel.”” Is this a university talking, a few trustees and the president, speaking as individuals (university name provided for purposes of identification only), err whhhut?

    • Citizen on February 4, 2012, 9:34 am

      Pretty disappointing that a university speaks like any US politician. All worried about the same thing–stable funding. When the Zionists banged on Truman’s door, and the head Zionist pounded on his desk in the oval office, the pattern was set. It worked. Do as we say or we will fund your opponent.

  5. Shingo on February 3, 2012, 3:02 pm

    Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein hate America. They hate liberalism. They hate Western values. Make it clear that people who love liberty love Israel.

    Someone needs to reming Dersh that Israel hates liberalism. Talk about projection!

    What can possibly be liberal about segregation, ethnic cleansing, marriage laws that deny citizenship to Palestinian spouses, torturing of children, collective punishment and maintaining open air prisons etc?

  6. Brewer on February 3, 2012, 4:39 pm

    As I contemplate the major changes in Western Society during my six decades, the one that stands out is the loss of truth as a value in itself. There was a time when the attainment of academic office brought with it a commitment to veracity – no matter how damaging to one’s cause. The very idea of using subterfuge to win a point or support was anathema.

    What is fascinating, inasmuch as the utterly disgusting can fascinate, is how much Dershowitz relies on the ignorance of his audience and that he does not seem to care that his dissembling is obvious to any with a modicum of Historical knowledge and common sense. He is a true Zealot.

    The blatant lies (barren land etc.) are obvious to all but his reference to my country, New Zealand, which has served as a model for post-colonial reparations is particularly egregious. I speak as a Kiwi with blood ties to both colonists and indigenous people.
    New Zealand has both Constitutional Law and a mechanism to settle land issues arising from colonial settlement. Negotiations, under the auspices of the Waitangi Tribunal have resulted in settlements to the satisfaction of all major tribes. It is an on-going process, not without controversy but largely successful.

    I have suggested to our Government that NZ should offer Israel it’s expertise in this field. The response referenced the well-known futility of teaching a pig to sing.
    Seriously however, I believe it is only through such a mechanism that the Israel/Palestine conflict could ever be addressed.
    Here is a comprehensive description of the process for those who might be interested in possible methods of resolving seemingly intractable problems:

    • American on February 4, 2012, 12:35 am

      Good comment Brewer…and interesting link.
      But something tells me (observation of zionism) that fairness will never be satisfactory to Israel.
      You would have better luck teaching a pig to sing.

    • MRW on February 4, 2012, 6:40 am

      I agree with American, Brewer: good comment.

    • Citizen on February 4, 2012, 9:45 am

      I feel the loss of the pursuit of truth too, Brewer. Perhaps it’s always been a romantic notion in the classical sense a la “truth and beauty, beauty and truth.” I know truth has always attracted me same as beauty. But now, in my dotage of almost 7 decades, I wonder about truth being a prime mover in human nature generally. It may be the contrary. Not that most humans want to be lied to, but they rather simply not know full truth, won’t aspire towards it as an end in itself yet with a net gain for all of humanity. This is of course true when it comes to very practical matters, matters contained in the old adage, “He knows on which side his bread is buttered.” In mollification, most of us were not born with a silver spoon, and many of us have families to support–there’s a reason why college students generally are more open to ideas beyond the average and it is motivated by more than a keen mind and idealism born of youth–it is that if you have to work to sustain yourself literally month to month–even if you have no children, you may learn to curb your enthusiasm for rocking the boat. Great movers and shakers don’t often come from the (equivalent of) the working or lower-middle class throughout history. When they do come, they often come with tremendous ruthless rage, and not totally without reason (that yet does not justify what they’ve done).

      • Thomson Rutherford on February 4, 2012, 8:06 pm

        I know truth has always attracted me same as beauty. – Citizen, Mondoweiss (2012)

        Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all
        Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

        – John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (c. 1820)

        It’s such a lovely, defining idea from the Age of Romanticism, to which the death blow finally came with World War I (the end of an era) and the Balfour Declaration (the germ cell of a different one).

      • Brewer on February 5, 2012, 3:17 am

        Dating the decline in Truth as Beauty or Truth as God is haphazard I guess – liars have always existed. I believe however, that those who practice deceit gained a champion in Edward Bernays
        His efforts (which made him very rich) drew a cloak of respectability over what was and still remains a practice that runs counter to Man’s best interests.
        So much of what I see as destructive in Western Society can be sheeted home to the pernicious machinations of this fellow. Of course, he merely recognized the opportunity to yoke Niccolò Machiavelli’s ideas to the emerging mass media but his impact can be felt in every walk of life today.

        We look back at mad periods of History with amusement – the excesses of the latter Romans, the Bourbons and even some contemporary weird cultures. I’m betting that, should Man survive the era of American/Israeli dominance, it will be equally regarded as an aberration and figures such as Bernays will be rightfully denigrated.

        It was probably inevitable that Americans, having spent a couple centuries taming the land and its resources and finally enjoying the fruits of their labor by way of an emerging middle class, should become prey to those whose instincts are honed by an altogether different tradition. Clever fellows who have learned that there are ways to profit beyond tending one’s own garden.

        Apologies if this all sounds a bit melancholy. Blame the effect of the Republican Primaries on a non-American who finds them rather bizarre. I find myself in total agreement with Fidel Castro:

        I must point out that the campaign to select a Republican candidate as the possible future president of this globalized and far-reaching empire has become —I say this in all seriousness— the greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance that has ever been heard.

        Triumph of image over reality.

      • Citizen on February 5, 2012, 10:17 am

        TR, Hitler writes in Mein Kampf of how the Brits, then the Americans used pure propaganda of the worst sort in WW1 (insert vintage poster of animalistic cannibalistic “Hun” devouring the innocent) –the Americans to drum up an OK from the masses to send doughboys “over there”–Big Biz was concerned the Brits wouldn’t be able to pay their debts, the Zionists wanted to show the Brits they’d send Americans like the brave hillbilly Sergeant York to help, Wilson was naive) . Hitler learned from that, and so did Goebbels, his chief propaganda minister, Goebbels.

      • Citizen on February 5, 2012, 10:27 am

        Brewer, I’m sure you know, but others here may not, that Goebbels used Bernays as his main mentor. Goebbels used embryonic modern marketing devices and psychology to further the interests of the Nazi aspirations. Bernays used his own ideas (developed partly from Freud, who he was directly related to) to, for example, sell cigarettes to Americans (who might have thought in all their ignorance inhaling smoke was not good for you)–by using hi-kicking girls-next-door with “legs up to here” prancing about Rockett-style, on parade, with a cig in their lip-sticked mouths. Such a contribution to humanity such folks are–of course now such people are icons of the American Dream and PR and marketing is the way to go (along with creating toxic currency and investment securities). Sell the sizzle not the horse meat steak. Sell WMD, Iraq, now Iran. Toss that bugaboo Hitler and wip out that hole card “anti-semitic” when folks get wise. Can anything better describe our whole culture, let alone our masochistic enmeshment with the rogue state of Israel?

  7. stevelaudig on February 3, 2012, 7:48 pm

    Religious delusions are the most dangerous. If God, as the Zionists contend, their god has chosen them to possess the land, then it seems a heresy to argue that U.S. taxpayer support is needed. Did God say “Give the check to the United States?”. I’m no bible scholar but I don’t recall seeing that.

    • Citizen on February 4, 2012, 9:55 am

      stevelaudig, any fundie would laugh at your comment. God works in mysterious ways is what it boils down to–their point would be, I think, that God also says God helps those who help themselves and others of same affinity.

  8. eGuard on February 3, 2012, 8:38 pm

    Saw the Dershowitz video. Is this the best they can bring up?

  9. yourstruly on February 3, 2012, 9:35 pm

    if alan dershowitz and the other apologists for israel blow up like this for a bds conference, what’ll they do when bds surfaces on every college campus, send in a few mossad assassins? what’s he worrying about, anyway, israel gets delegitimized and the huge number of israelis who carry two passports can pack up and return to wherever they came from, be it the usa, western europe, argentina or australia? of course israelis will be able to stay in palestine, so long as they’re willing to live as no more than equals with palestinians. scream as much as you care to, alan, won’t help because it’s gonna happen & sooner rather than later.

    • Citizen on February 4, 2012, 10:04 am

      yourstruly, Dershie is ready to go down with his Zionist ship, and he’s thinking we’ve won for many scores of years, and we will keep winning–that’s what we are about. He’s into the Big Lies same as Hitler, Stalin, etc were–Goebbels never stopped, right to the end. Neither will Dershie. He’s like Newt–he pounces on anything that may work for his agenda–the chattering intellectuals with facts do not matter at all–at least that’s correct so long as the press is controlled/enlisted. Getting harder though as we progress in avenues of communication beyond the government-given Volk AM radio in every household. Of course, that’s the point of those in Congress moving to censor the internet indirectly and to shackle Wikileaks.

  10. RoHa on February 3, 2012, 10:59 pm

    “2 state solution would require a military presence in Jordan Valley in case there’s an incursion from Iraq.”

    (1) A solution would establish peaceful relations between Israel and all the Arab states, so why would Iraq want to invade?

    (2) Such an invasion would have to pass through Jordan. Surely it would be better for the Israelis to have a military presence on the Jordan-Iraq border.

    (3) What principle (aside from mutual agreement) allows a state to have a military presence on the border of another state?

    And the Vietnamese require a military presence on the borders of Laos and Cambodia in case there’s an incursion (passing through Thailand) from Burma.

  11. FreddyV on February 4, 2012, 6:11 am

    Brewer: ‘There was a time when the attainment of academic office brought with it a commitment to veracity’

    This is what amazes me. Dershowitz has been exposed time and time again as a fraud, yet still he is given a voice.

    Words springing to mind: Conflate. Confuse. Subterfuge. Bamboozle. Apologists for Israel play this game where they draw people into a convoluted debate and spew half facts and specious rhetoric which leaves the (factually) unarmed opponent at a loss before he’s even started. People think he’s clever because they don’t know he’s a liar. The other liars give him a platform because he’s good at talking ignorant people round to his way of thinking.

    The subject has to be boiled down one indisputable fact and the masses need to hear it.

    The occupation of Palestine is illegal.

    If the world understands this, Dershowitz and his kind will be finished.

    • Citizen on February 4, 2012, 10:20 am

      FreddyV, exactly. All what you say is on display now across America in the GOP candidate debates and Obama’s babbling in the background, all gearing up for a grand display of just what you said. Every SuperPac TV ad is a case in point. Both the status quo contenders and their status quo competition, not to mention the myriad arms of the mainsteam media, all use the “words springing to mind usage” as you pinpoint in your comment. I think Goering at Nuremberg put it in best capsule form, paraphrasing, ” Promise them what they want, and instill Fear to get them to follow–works great in both undemocratic and democratic countries.”

      The key is the American condition for true democracy: the informed consent of the citizens. America maybe has done better on this than in past world history, but I don’t think you will see another Pentagon Papers. Most Americans have not a clue what kind of government they have thanks to 9/11 pretext. Dick and Jane don’t “walk like Egyptians” at the height of the Arab Spring.

    • Thomson Rutherford on February 4, 2012, 6:58 pm

      The occupation of Palestine is illegal. If the world understands this, Dershowitz and his kind will be finished.

      You have an impressive faith in both the “legal system” and human nature. But I grant you, we need a good measure of that if progress is to be made.

      • Citizen on February 5, 2012, 10:35 am

        Maybe we should accent “left over colonialism–only in Israel,” rather than “occupation” since lots of folks don’t know the difference between de facto and de jure, between spirit of the law, and letter of the law, and they easily overlook the fact virtually total control of the border and air space and underground is more than a mere blockade?

      • FreddyV on February 6, 2012, 5:46 am

        On reflection, my comment does sound entirely like child like naivety. The point I was attempting to make is that Dersh and his ilk, as Citizen pointed out in the post below spin the whole subject when given a platform to do so and we actually entertain this. Why do we even debate Zionists? Look at Oslo. The Palestinians are not dealing with an honest partner in Israel and the US are not an honest broker, so how do you get around it?

        The topic needs to be distilled to the one simple fact. No talking about the holocaust or existential threats or self defense etc etc.

        Just the one fact of the illegality of the occupation. If they don’t want to sort it out, BDS is the only solution.

  12. sajepress on February 4, 2012, 7:32 am

    Despicable Dershowitz.

    • Citizen on February 4, 2012, 10:33 am

      Dershie is an American lawyer; he borrows the American adversarial legal process (especially as to criminal law) to justify in his own mind what he says and does–a trial attorney’s job is to present his case in any way he/she thinks effective–idea is the opposing lawyer will do the same, and out of this adversarial process, the judge (bench or jury trial) will determine the case result. This engine assumes a fair and impartial judge/jury. Anything said here so far on this thread does not seem to me to realize that Dershie is playing just this way, with the judge to be swayed being the hearts and minds of the America public. No trial lawyer will disclose a fact, or what looks like a fact, that will help the other side. But he/she will embellish any shred to advance his/her cause. Anyone opposing Dershie needs to know he’s a dirty fighter all the way, and will never stop in behalf his client, Israel aka in his mind, the entire Jewish people and their survival as such forever on this earth, no matter the cost to the rest of humanity.

  13. Thomson Rutherford on February 4, 2012, 8:29 pm

    Title of this post: “Dershowitz justifies war on Iran (and Iraq? again?)– and Mort Zuckerman rides shotgun– in fresh attacks on BDS conference.”

    Justifies war? Check. Rides shotgun? Check. It’s awesome the political and media power these rabid Zionists possess. Over the last half-century they have seized all the battlecruisers and aircraft carriers and we are left with the motor whaleboats.

    How did it happen?

    • Citizen on February 5, 2012, 10:38 am

      It started with Truman, caving in to his desire to remain POTUS–when he was faced with the reality that the Zionists banging at his oval office door really did have the power way back then to defeat him by giving their moneybags to Dewey’s campaign and their key votes in key states like NY to Dewey too. The Zionists also had the most influential Press on their side.

  14. kapok on February 6, 2012, 10:24 am

    From the photo it seems Dearth O’Witz is in denial of his growing girth.

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