Alan Dershowitz gave a pep talk on Jewish influence to an orthodox audience in Scarsdale Tuesday night. It was his crowd, and he really is a rock star. The suburban lanes were filled with cars and older yarmulke-wearing Jews streaming toward the synagogue like Woodstock. We were half a million strong! Four hundred anyway, but Jews punch above their weight.
That was Dershowitz’s theme: We earned our influence in this country by contributing more to its success than others– so now use your influence!
Dershowitz held forth for 50 minutes before he had to sign books and head to CNN. The crowd was on their feet at beginning and end. Dershowitz started out with self-effacing humor. At his yeshiva in Brooklyn he was a terrible student. The head of the school said Dershowitz, what are we going to do with you. You have to find a job where you don’t have to think and you just run your mouth. You could be a lawyer. Or a conservative rabbi. The man couldn’t even say the word Reform, Dershowitz said. By his last year he was suing the school (for an arbitrary rule on who could apply for NY state scholarships; he won).
The news. Trump has a better chance of getting peace in the Middle East than Obama; Dershowitz got into the Israel defense racket because of Noam Chomsky; it’s getting harder and harder to defend Israel and Dershowitz is now blacklisted at campuses; Israel’s second and third-rate academics come to the U.S. and Europe to get jobs and sell themselves as anti-Zionist because people will hire a talking dog; Bernie Sanders is strange; the dissident human rights group Breaking the Silence is a small bunch of malcontents who lie about the Israeli army; and Jews should use Jewish power, from intellectual to financial, to punish those who criticize Israel.
The best quotes are about outsize Jewish influence and how we’re entitled to it because we made America great. #8 and #11 below. “We have to hit them in the pocketbook. Don’t ever ever be embarrassed about using Jewish power.”
1. It’s getting harder to support Israel.
Dershowitz didn’t start out as Israel’s lawyer, but then the left turned on Israel after the Six Day War. Early on, the left loved Israel because the Soviet Union was its supporter. Only Republicans didn’t like Israel, the State Department, Eisenhower, the oil men.
Israel was very easy to defend. Boy have things changed dramatically over the last 50 years…. The two people who got me engaged really deeply were the Reverend Daniel Berrigan– he was an unbelievable anti-Semite, a real bigot, he called Israel a criminal community of Jews, he said that Jews had to choose between supporting Israel and supporting civil liberties, he was an evil evil man [Read this to see the real Berrigan]–
And Noam Chomsky. I had befriended him, I had worked with him against the Vietnam war. And suddenly he’s turning against Israel. When the far left turned against Israel,
I would become… somebody who could make the liberal case for Israel. That has become harder and harder to do. The demographics are clear. Republicans now support Israel much more strongly than Democrats.
Dersh said Chomsky had been his camp counselor at Jewish camp as a boy.
2. The importance of the Israel lobby.
Israel must always remain a bipartisan issue. We never want to see Israel become a referendum issue in an election. Why? We could lose! … Who could have predicted the outcome of the last election. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Republican Jews have to keep the Buchanans out of that party, and Democrats have to defeat the Bernie Sanderses and Keith Ellisons. As for Ellison, “He thinks I’m the one who defeated his candidacy [for party chair]. I hope he’s right.” I wonder if that is true, or Dershowitzian BS.
3. Bernie Sanders.
The other day on al Jazeera Sanders made a strong case of defense for Israel. Sanders is a strange guy. It’s very hard to figure out what his politics are… He’s a decent man. His support for Israel is not deep and it’s opportunistic sometimes.
4. Third rate Israeli academics are flooding the world with anti-Zionism.
Some of the strongest anti Israel people at every university are Jews, and some of the most virulent and anti-Israel are Jewish Israelis.
It’s much harder to become a professor in Israel than in the U.S. because there are countless topflight minds over there, so a lot of the academics in Israel try to get jobs in Oslo, Poland, Paris, the midwest.
How do you get a job? How do you distinguish yourself? You become a talking dog. “The dog can talk?–oh we’ll hire any dog who can talk!” You become an Israel who is a virulent anti-Zionist. “That’s interesting! An Israeli who’s a virulent anti Zionist. That’s somebody to hire!” And so many of the second and third rate professors from Israel that come to American universities come as anti-Zionists.
The worst departments are Jewish and Israeli Studies. These are hotbeds of disaffected Israeli anti-Zionists, making “problems,” preaching against Israel.
That’s why Sheldon Adelson my dear friend, won’t fund professorships in Jewish studies.
5. Breaking the Silence are liars.
These are a couple of dozen hard left Israelis who went into the army reluctantly, picketed Israel when they were in the army, now come out of the army just lying through their teeth. Go on Youtube and you see a tape of members of Breaking the Silence lying and others… pointing out the lies.
This is very difficult. Facing Jews and Israelis who are so anti Israel that the students give them a lot of credibility and believe them. It’s a real tragedy.
6. Israel is superior.
There is no country in the world that has contributed more to the humanity in the first 69 years of its existence than the state of Israel. The world should be applauding Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s birthday, instead of regarding it as Nakma– Nakba, which the Palestinians inflicted on themselves by not accepting [partition].
7. Dershowitz is blacklisted for honorary degrees and commencement speeches.
It used to be that he got an honorary degree “at every major university and I spoke at every major graduation.”
Today no major university will have me speak at a graduation because I’m too pro Israel. That includes Brandeis.
Brandeis withdrew an invitation under pressure a few years ago and said, Don’t worry we’ll invite you back in a year or two, but it never happened. Dershowitz has lost out to that talking dog!
If you’re anti Israel again you’re like the talking dog and everybody wants you.
8. Jews need to use their financial power to punish Israel’s critics.
“If you divest from Israel, we divest from you,” Jews need to tell schools. So far, no university has ever divested from Israel.
That has to remain the rule. Anyone that does has to be treated with economic consequences. We have to hit them in the pocketbook. Don’t ever ever be embarrassed about using Jewish power. Jewish power, whether it be intellectual, academic, economic, political– in the interest of justice is the right thing to do.
Don’t listen to me, listen to God, Dershowitz said. Jews say a prayer that only after the Jewish people have strength will they get peace. And we are “entitled” to the power we have in the U.S.
People write a book called the Israel lobby and complain that AIPAC is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington. My response to that is, that’s not good enough. We should be the most powerful lobby in Washington….
We are entitled to use our power. We have contributed disproportionately to the success of this country. We have done so much for this country. When you think of how much better this country has become since our grandparents and great grandparents took the risk of coming, here, we have not only the right we have the obligation to speak out, and use every piece, every bit of power available in support of Israel.
9. Trump has a better shot at peace than Obama because he’s got Israel’s back.
I’m not encouraged that we will see a full blown peace break out suddenly, but I do think the Trump administration is going to have better possibilities of peace than the Obama administration.
Dennis Ross explained it: when Israel knows it has America’s support, it takes risks for peace.
Obama got nothing because he deserved it…. I’m not encouraged but I do think this administration has a chance to bring the two sides closer together and to produce some tangible results.
10. Israel must stay “superior.”
I’m a very strong believer that peace should be tried as an option. We should try every option of peace before we have to resort to other forces, but the only way peace will be achieved, is if Israel remains qualitatively superior to all– all– its neighboring countries.
11. Here’s the finale. More Jewish influence.
Look, we are the most affluent successful generation of Jews anywhere in the world, that’s the good news. This is the best of times. It’s also the most dangerous of times…
I’m very encouraged about the future of Israel and strength of Israel. I’m very encouraged about the future of the American Jewish community. We are a very influential community. We deserve our influence. I hope all of you will participate in this great period of Jewish American, Jewish Israeli life, you have so much to contribute. Use what you’ve earned, use your influence to support Israel and support Jewish values.
Standing O. The orthodox pour out into the streets. It’s dark now in Scarsdale, but there’s throbbing thrilling Jewish pollen in the air.
Thanks to David Samel.