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‘NYT’ review casts Dershowitz as lovable contrarian

Israel/Palestine
on 19 Comments
Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz

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.]

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19 Responses

  1. Krauss
    Krauss
    November 10, 2013, 10:56 am

    Some people may recall that Lithwick was on a panel recently where she stated she was ‘terrified’ of sending her kids to college. Terrified of what? Liberalism.

    So it is supremely ironic that a person who is racist and who fears liberalism will affect her kids homegrown racism will somehow be decided to be a judge on another “liberal” racist.

    This is just another example of how you can get a pass on almost any kind of vitriolic racism – so long as it’s directed at brown people abroad – in the American press. This kind of double standard is not going to last over the long term.

  2. seafoid
    seafoid
    November 10, 2013, 11:26 am

    He looks like a 1970s porn star in that photo.
    But most of all he’s a fraud.

    “Love him or hate him, Dershowitz has lived a life that matters, hugely and enduringly. ”

    And when he dies nobody will remember him.

  3. Blownaway
    Blownaway
    November 10, 2013, 11:32 am

    It’s as simple and honest as proper disclosure…I have a vested interest in how this article is perceived. Any one have doubt that they know each other and may even have a personal relationship?

  4. Cliff
    Cliff
    November 10, 2013, 11:40 am

    Of course a Zionist Israeli Jew would write this hagiography ABOUT a hagiography.

    I believe there’s a term for that…

  5. Marco
    Marco
    November 10, 2013, 11:51 am

    “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 soon as I saw the name David Bazelon, I suspected that he must be related to Slate’s editor Emily Bazelon.

    Sure enough. David Bazelon was the Chief Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

    Emily Bazelon is his granddaughter.

    And incidentally, Bazelon once worked as a freelance journalist in Israel.

    Philip Weiss has admitted that he may have gotten ahead in journalism on account of his name and pedigree. I suspect the same is true for Emily Bazelon. The Slate editor will crusader against economic inequality and social disparities while being so evidently the beneficiary of them. For that matter, the same can be said for most of the rest of Slate’s writers.

  6. American
    American
    November 10, 2013, 1:07 pm

    Just another zio mouthpiece.
    Regulary featured in the NYT naturally.
    I will say again— however Israel turns out or doesnt –when history writes up this era the Dersh and the Zios will be featured —but it wont be flattering.

  7. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    November 10, 2013, 1:17 pm

    Dershowich lovable, he of the approval of the legal use of torture, lovingly known as torture warrants “If he still refused to, he would be subjected to judicially monitored physical measures designed to cause excruciating pain without leaving any lasting damage. A sterilized needle underneath the nail might be one such approved method. This may sound brutal, but it does not compare in brutality with the prospect of thousands of preventable deaths at the hands of fellow terrorists”. http://www.alandershowitz.com/publications/docs/torturewarrants.html

  8. Philip Munger
    Philip Munger
    November 10, 2013, 3:00 pm

    And in the long passage on how Dersh has defended free speech rights, the name “Norman Finkelstein” is never mentioned.

    Looking much further back, there is the case where he defended Natan Sharansky in the USSR courts, but declined to help Andrei Sakharov:

    The NYT (December 7, 1977) reported that American Jewish organizations advised leading New York civil rights lawyer [Dershowitz] not to aid Andrei Sakharov because his efforts would taint the Soviet Jewish movement by threatening Soviet authorities.

    The Struggle for Soviet Jewry in American Politics, by Fred A. Lazin, p. 234

    • ToivoS
      ToivoS
      November 10, 2013, 4:05 pm

      This quote from Lithwick transforming his cases into significant human rights (as may have been the case in his representation of Sharanksy)

      is simply incorrect. Sharansky’s case was a significant human rights issue on its own. It was made into one by American anti-Soviet propaganda during the cold war. The Soviets deserved the beating they got over it, but Dersh was a bit player then.

      Today the heroic Natan is known for arguing the case that Jews have been in Israel for 3000 years and the Palestinians are just Arabs that moved there in recent time and do not have special rights there.

      • Philip Munger
        Philip Munger
        November 10, 2013, 5:31 pm

        Good points. The Dersh might have been a “bit player” then, but he was already a grandstander, eh?

  9. Hostage
    Hostage
    November 10, 2013, 3:03 pm

    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.

    By this point, Dershowitz has long since become one of the public opinion makers here and in Israel. His professional colleagues have always considered him a trial lawyer and newspaper columnist, rather than a legal scholar. He is an outsider to the international law and the human rights community, who consider him a professor of torture and other uncivilized behavior.

    His body of work for the Jerusalem Post, long ago transformed his role there from that of an observer, into one of an instigator or person responsible for facilitating and prolonging the I/P conflict.

  10. Steve Macklevore
    Steve Macklevore
    November 10, 2013, 3:38 pm

    I see Dershowitz as a clown.

    A rather sad, attention-seeking clown with a shabby repetitive act and wet pants.

  11. seafoid
    seafoid
    November 10, 2013, 4:21 pm

    One of the reasons I despise Dershowitz is because he reminds me of the 1930s .
    Here’s an NY Review snippet on what led to the Shoah with some modern day parallels in bold.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/jun/20/how-ordinary-germans-did-it/

    Neitzel and Welzer do not sufficiently appreciate the combined effects of several factors : National Socialist / Zionist ideology, a pan European right wing/ GOP, plutocrat and pan Jewish consensus on rabid anticommunism/ Islamophobia, and on the identification of Jews as Bolsheviks/ Muslims as terrorists , and vice versa, a German / IDF military tradition contemptuous of any restraint and phobic about partisans / Gaza and German / Zionist cultural assumptions about German /Jewish cultural superiority over Eastern European / Arab populations ”

    What a mess and the Dersh was in the middle directing much of it for the last 30 years.

  12. EUR1069
    EUR1069
    November 10, 2013, 6:07 pm

    Why, oh WHY couldn’t the NYT pick Norm Finkelstein to write the review? Just for the kicks..

  13. LanceThruster
    LanceThruster
    November 11, 2013, 1:11 pm

    xD

  14. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    November 11, 2013, 1:52 pm

    What publisher thinks that there is a big audience for yet another autobiography by Alan Dershowitz? Are friends of the Israel Lobby going to buy up thousands of copies for Hillels to give away to incoming students just to get this on the bestseller list?

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      November 11, 2013, 8:03 pm

      “yet another autobiography by Alan Dershowitz?”

      You mean there already is one?

      “copies for Hillels to give away to incoming students”

      What have the poor kids done to deserve that?

  15. Theo
    Theo
    November 12, 2013, 12:20 pm

    Dersh loveable?

    A couple of years ago he did a TV debate with Mr. Levy of Haaretz, consequently I wrote him an e-mail voicing my approval of Mr. Levy.
    In return he called me an anti-semite, (and I always though Mr. Levy is also jewish!), and instructed me to crawl back under the stone where I came from.
    Yes, a pleasant and loveable individual.

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