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Yet another Dershowitz fabrication

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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.

DershowitzBookCoverChutzpahWho 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!

About David Samel

David Samel is an attorney in New York City.

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19 Responses

  1. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    December 23, 2013, 12:00 pm

    Dershowitz is a propagandist for Israel, not a scholar. Anyone looking for the real lowdown on Dershowitz should read Norman Finkelsten’s Beyond Chutzpah. It’s a systematic demolition of Dershowitz and his ridiculous tract, The Case for Israel. And Finkelstein’s book was not reviewed in The Nation*, or the New York Times, or Dissent, Commentary or The New Republic.

    *Alexander Cockburn mentioned the book in his column Beat the Devil, but in The Nation’s book review section, Finkelstein’s book was apparently banned, as are all of Finkelstein’s other books as well, including We Went Too Far, and Knowing Too Much.

  2. LanceThruster
    December 23, 2013, 12:15 pm

    It’s almost as if the esteemed barrister does not even care about the truth.

    How could that be?

  3. Tuyzentfloot
    December 23, 2013, 12:31 pm

    The late Fouzi El-Asmar described an unpleasant encounter with Dershowitz in 1970 in his book ‘To Be an Arab in Israel’ . That’s 43 years ago. A long career of scumbaggery.

    • a blah chick
      a blah chick
      December 23, 2013, 9:06 pm

      Refresh my memory. Was that when the Dersh picketed someplace where El-Asmar was speaking in New York?

      Ah, Dersh, still fighting the good fight against truthiness!

      • Tuyzentfloot
        December 25, 2013, 5:46 am

        I don’t know about Dershowitz picketing but it’s part of the same affair.
        Dershowitz visited El-Asmar in prison in 1970 and presented himself as ‘an American New Leftist’ investigating the problem of administrative detention. The interview itself went well. The article that Dershowitz published about it in Commentary was full of lies and elaborate fabrications. In the article all administrative detentions were justified and El-Asmar was the head of a gang of murderers.
        Later the article by Dershowitz was used to discredit El-Asmar when he spoke in the US somewhere in 1972. Summaries of the article were distributed at the locations where El-Asmar spoke.

        Dershowitz has been around longer than that but that’s the oldest story I know about him. His wikipedia page can’t find anything really wrong about the guy though.

  4. Bumblebye
    December 23, 2013, 1:49 pm

    Don’t you understand, David? Once the Dersh has claimed something, it automatically becomes True (with the capital T)!

  5. talknic
    December 23, 2013, 2:09 pm

    Even more disconcerting is schmucks like Dershowitz breaking one of the most basic tenets of Judaism on behalf of the Jewish state.

    Either they’re not practicing Jews or they’ve never learned the basic tenets of Judaism or the Jewish state isn’t very Jewish

    • mcohen
      December 23, 2013, 4:48 pm

      talknic says:
      December 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      “breaking one of the most basic tenets of Judaism ”

      OED,then calling someone a schmuck must be a basic tenet of judaism

      “or the Jewish state isn’t very Jewish”

      you are mistaken …there are no jews in israel ,they converted to zionism which is a nationalistic movement that consists of europeans,arabs,africans,asians,americans even eskimo,s.
      at the moment the ruling government is the democraticaly elected zionist national party (ZNP) which was voted into power by the countries citizens.

      either way all citizens of israel are zionists as the live in a zionist country.

      those arabs living in israel are zionists,they choose to accept citizenship and they vote and have members parliament representing them

      they are zionists

      • Ron Edwards
        Ron Edwards
        December 24, 2013, 10:22 am

        That doesn’t even work as e. e. cummings poetry. First I tried it as plain prose, then I tried it as point-by-point reply to talknic, and then (desperate) I tried it as e. e. cummings – still zip. I’m left to conclude it’s schizophasia.

      • talknic
        December 25, 2013, 9:33 am

        mcohen “OED,then calling someone a schmuck must be a basic tenet of judaism”

        Point out a tenet where calling a spade a spade is somehow sinful

        “there are no jews in israel ,they converted to zionism which is a nationalistic movement that consists of europeans,arabs,africans,asians,americans even eskimo,s.
        at the moment the ruling government is the democraticaly elected zionist national party (ZNP) which was voted into power by the countries citizens”,

        The Zionist entity has control of the Zionist Movement’s state. Call it Zioland

        “those arabs living in israel are zionists,they choose to accept citizenship and they vote and have members parliament representing them

        they are zionists”

        Your theory is contrary to the Israeli Government brief. They’re Israeli citizens with “complete equality of social and political rights … irrespective of religion, race or sex .. (guaranteed) freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture;”

  6. Ron Edwards
    Ron Edwards
    December 23, 2013, 2:46 pm

    In addition to the excellent points made here, what is with this guy and his tenuous connections between (i) the topic of the discussion and (ii) the anecdotes he brings up?

    He says the ASA’s pro-BDS statement *reminds him* of the alleged exchange between Lowell and Hand. Even if the latter were referring to the two men’s actual dialogue instead of his Dersh-verse version of it, how exactly does the statement remind him of the exchange? They are not alike in the verbal content regarding Judaism. They are not alike in terms of the individuals producing the statement. They are not alike in policy terms. The connection is a big fat zero which the reader is supposed to fill in with “anti-semitism” because … because … Alan feels it with his twitching antennae … or something. And then to treat that inference as evidence.

    “Feels like,” “Smacks of” (his favorite), “Reminds him of,” it’s always the same, and never with an actual accusation, i.e., “It IS,” or with any substantial justification for the smacking of, or whatever. He *just knows,* just well enough to hint and to display yet another rubbery facial expression instead of nailing it down in any way. This man has built his entire career on fairy-tale inferences and smirks, even without considering the arrant lying such as the article describes.

    Harvard Law School! How’d that investigation of plagiarism turn out? Inquiring minds would like to know.

    • Citizen
      December 24, 2013, 12:45 am

      @ Ron Edwards
      He was selling his own version of Larry Summers’s standard hasbara line on ASA’s decision, that is, it’s singling out, picking on the Jews when there’s worse or at least as bad others doing similar or the same bad thing.

      Dershie is a walking, talking freudian projection. He must puke every time he looks into his own shifty soul. Actually either his metaphorical mirror or his actual mirror.

      • Ron Edwards
        Ron Edwards
        December 24, 2013, 10:19 am

        We’re agreed on our assessment of this person, as stated in your second paragraph.

        For your first paragraph, I think you’re trying to explain his point to me. That’s not necessary – I get what he’s *pretending* to say. My point is that there is no identifiable, externally valid connection, such that pretense is *all* he has.

        The mystery to me is how this vapid, sneering nonsense has generated such respect, status, deference, and success. In professional and intellectual terms, he is the single most deficient individual I have ever observed in academia – which is really saying something.

      • DaveS
        December 24, 2013, 12:36 pm

        Ron, you’re absolutely right that Dershowitz’s dishonesty may be viewed as the least of his faults, when compared to his intellectual reasoning. However, there have been plenty of arguments on this website and elsewhere dismantling the double standard defense, and I wanted to focus on the sheer jaw-dropping nature of his fabrication. No matter how many times he is proven to be a shameless liar, he continues to amaze.

        Your concluding paragraph brilliantly sums it all up, though the fact that you are understandably mystified by Dersh’s “respect, status, deference, and success” shouldn’t blind us to the fact that he does enjoy that success. He is a veritable rock star of the hasbara circuit, and I cannot resist exposing his lack of clothing every now and then.

  7. The Hasbara Buster
    The Hasbara Buster
    December 23, 2013, 6:38 pm

    I had heard the “yes, but we’re talking about Jews” story ascribed to an unnamed antisemitic professor at the University of Buenos Aires.

    The resurfacing of the same exact story in an American context in Dershowitz’ fantasy makes it clear it has nothing to do with any actual antisemitism, and everything to do with Jewish victimism and the need to create myths to support it.

    On another note, Dershowitz makes another false analogy when he claims, “China occupies Tibet, Russia occupies Chechnya and several other countries occupy Kurdish lands.” China doesn’t occupy Tibet; it has annexed the region, and its inhabitants have full Chinese citizenship and even some privileges the Han don’t enjoy, such as the right to have more than one child. This contrasts with the situation in the West Bank where the Palestinians are not Israeli citizens. Also, China has built for the Tibet the highest railroad in the world, which can be used by everyone. In contrast, Israel builds roads on expropriated Palestinian property where the very owners of those lands can’t drive.

    • deralterkayaker
      December 23, 2013, 10:28 pm

      Really? The Chinese are pussycats in Tibet? Wow…ask the monks who escaped death now living in India…ask the people in the Free Tibet movement…again, all I can say is wow in disbelief…

      • DaveS
        December 24, 2013, 12:50 pm

        You apparently devoted too much effort at coming up with an amusing handle and not enough at reason. HB did not say that the Chinese were pussycats in Tibet, but only that Tibetans are full-fledged citizens of China. Similarly, Native Americans are full-fledged citizens of the US, but that does not mean that Americans were pussycats in dealing with them.

        Israel is qualitatively different. It is continuing a military occupation that has lasted nearly half a century. It rules over about four million people with an iron hand and gives them no say in the political system (some “democracy”!). It also privileges its own citizens on the land these stateless Palestinians have lived in for centuries.

    • DaveS
      December 24, 2013, 12:42 pm

      HB, I’m a little disappointed to learn that Dershowitz might not have fabricated this story himself, but only “adopted” (plagiarized?) someone else’s fabrication. My estimation of his inventiveness has gone down a notch, until I research who plagiarized whom. Maybe Dersh was the creative genius after all. Still, it is fascinating that you are familiar with an Argentine version.

      In fact, I have seen one or two references by others to the “well-known” story about Lowell and Hand that were obviously cribbed from Dersh, because no one would have suspected that the story was simply false.

  8. eGuard
    December 24, 2013, 1:40 am

    Dersh, create a Palestinian state first and then start about which “country” faces most threats.

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