This New York Times review of Alan Dershowitz’s autobiography “Taking the Stand” is an excellent example of how to take sides without being too blatant about it. Dahlia Lithwick just picks and chooses what to mention and what to ignore and phrases things in ways that always make Dershowitz seem the good guy. Here’s a portion–
Love him or hate him, Dershowitz has lived a life that matters, hugely and enduringly. He is a man in full at a time when most of us aspire to be little more than a presence on Twitter.
David Bazelon once told him about a New York judge who complained, “Why does Cardozo always get the interesting cases?” Bazelon’s point was that Benjamin Cardozo, the famous jurist, took unimportant cases and made them into legal landmarks. As Dershowitz describes his remarkable career it becomes clear he has done the same, transforming his cases into significant human rights (as may have been the case in his representation of Sharanksy) or forensic science issues, mainly because he’s the “Dersh character.” Dershowitz concludes by discussing his growing interest in the Israel/Palestine conflict and his dissatisfaction with how the international law and the human rights community have organized around the issue. He believes that his role in this debate will be what he will be remembered for, and also that this controversy has elicited some of the strongest reactions of his career. As he explains it, those who once hated him for being a liberal democrat have now joined with those who call him a sellout and fascist.
If we were talking about any other country, a man who disagrees with the human rights community and international law would be seen as a partisan hack justifying human rights violations. But because it’s Israel, this makes Dersh a lovable contrarian and rather than focus on the substance, Lithwick goes along with Dersh’s formulation–his critics are name-callers allied with rightwingers who hate him for his liberalism.
And in the long passage on how Dersh has defended free speech rights, the name “Norman Finkelstein” is never mentioned. Though Lithwick does mention his lack of support for “Muslim” protesters who interrupted the Israeli ambassador’s speech.
[P.S. Lithwick’s parents live in Israel. She has lately been quoted to the effect that “the Israeli courts respect the dignity of every human being and strive to represent all people who come before it.” –Ed.]