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Alan Dershowitz defends Dan Gertler, the Israeli criminal billionaire who has looted the DR Congo

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Dan Gertler, the criminal Israeli billionaire who is responsible for untold misery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the poorest nations on earth, has an influential new supporter: Alan Dershowitz. In a front page report in today’s New York Times, Dershowitz speaks up for Gertler, who was sanctioned last year by the U.S. government, as “a very good person.”

In fact, Dan Gertler is too corrupt for even the Trump administration to accept. Here’s what the Treasury Department said a year ago about why the U.S. was punishing him under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act: 

Gertler is an international businessman and billionaire who has amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Gertler has used his close friendship with DRC President Joseph Kabila to act as a middleman for mining asset sales in the DRC, requiring some multinational companies to go through Gertler to do business with the Congolese state.  As a result, between 2010 and 2012 alone, the DRC reportedly lost over $1.36 billion in revenues from the underpricing of mining assets .  .  . 

The U.S. Treasury Department’s language is accurate but too clinical. What it means more vividly is that Gertler and Kabila have stolen hundreds of millions that the DR Congo could have used to create a professional army to replace the current bands of unpaid, uniformed looters who kill and rape civilians with impunity; to invest in education and health; and to reduce the 70 percent rate of malnourishment. Nearly 6 million of the nation’s 81 million people have been displaced by repression and fighting, and the DR Congo is still the greatest ongoing humanitarian disaster since the end of World War 2. 

Meanwhile, Gertler’s crimes have apparently raised no alarms in Israel itself, even though he reportedly flies home regularly from central Africa. So far, the Israeli government is not investigating him, and he remains basically unknown there.

Gertler’s anonymity in Israel (and in the U.S.) is unfortunately routine in reports about corruption in the Global South, which are often marred by unconscious racism. Visiting Western journalists will dwell at length on the grotesque wealth of certain African leaders like Joseph Kabila, but forget to even name the big oil companies, mining giants and hedge funds that pay them. 

Back to Alan Dershowitz. Dan Gertler is far from the first unpopular person he has championed. Dershowitz defends his choices by arguing that a just legal system means that everyone is entitled to a vigorous defense. Somehow, though, Professor Dershowitz never seems to step up and represent people like the millions of Congolese civilians who continue to flee for their lives.

H/T Patrick Connors

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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33 Responses

  1. festus on December 11, 2018, 11:53 am

    Seems to be an endless supply of guys like this.

    • Misterioso on December 12, 2018, 10:59 am

      For the record re Dershowitz:

      The Harvard Crimson, Dec. 3/18

      “Billionaire and Convicted Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein Boasts Deep, Longstanding Ties to Harvard”


      “Epstein donated millions to the University. He funded the construction of a campus building. He cultivated cozy friendships with top Harvard brass including a former University president. And he forged close personal and professional ties to Alan M. Dershowitz.”

      “But the billionaire — who for years operated a sex ring of underage girls out of his Palm Beach, Fla. home, the Miami Herald reported in a three-part feature Wednesday — nonetheless boasts deep and longstanding ties to Harvard.

      “Epstein has donated millions of dollars to the University. His money funded the construction of at least one campus building, still standing today. He cultivated cozy friendships with top Harvard administrators including a former University president. And he forged close professional and personal ties to Alan M. Dershowitz, a high-profile professor emeritus at Harvard Law School who also allegedly had sexual relations with a minor.

      “Now — as the Herald’s reporting is once again focusing national attention on Epstein’s and Dershowitz’s alleged misconduct — Harvard is staying quiet. University spokespeople declined to comment for this story. Harvard also refused to comment publicly on the allegations against Dershowitz.”

      “The Herald reported they had identified about 80 women who said they had been molested or sexually abused by Epstein between 2001 and 2006.

      “Witnesses and alleged victims testified in civil court that hundreds of girls traveled to Epstein’s homes over the years under the pretense they would be paid to give Epstein ‘massages.’ Epstein forced the women to perform sexual acts during most massages, according to the Herald. The Herald described the operation as ‘cult-like’ and akin to a ‘sexual pyramid scheme’ in which girls acted as recruiters, attracting other underage girls.

      “One of the women Epstein allegedly paid for sexual services — Virginia Roberts — stated in a 2015 affidavit that Epstein and his associate Ghislaine Maxwell directed her to have sex with Dershowitz and others. Roberts wrote in the affidavit that she had sexual intercourse with Dershowitz six times starting at age 16. Dershowitz has denied these allegations multiple times over several years, and the judge presiding over the case ultimately struck the allegations from the record on the grounds that they were not relevant to the suit.”

      “Dershowitz was first implicated in Epstein’s crimes in December 2014 when a civil case challenging Epstein’s plea deal alleged that Dershowitz forced a then-underaged, unnamed woman to have sex with him several times in New York, New Mexico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

      “The Herald identified the woman as Roberts.”

      “Dershowitz — who is famous for representing defendants like O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bülow — repeatedly denied the allegations at the time, criticizing Roberts and her lawyers for including the charges. Dershowitz has since continued to deny the allegations. The presiding judge struck the allegations from the record in 2015 without directly addressing their veracity.”

      “Dershowitz acknowledged that he once traveled to Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion to receive a massage, according to the Herald. But in his deposition in the case, Dershowitz said the massage involved no sexual activity and was performed by a professional masseuse — and that his wife was present the whole time.”

      “In a Friday interview with The Crimson, Dershowitz once again strongly denied Roberts’s allegations. Dershowitz said the accusations against him form part of an extortion plot against Wexner, the chairman and chief of L Brands — the corporation that owns Victoria’s Secret.”

      “He shared the results of his personal investigation into one of the girls with Krischer, according to the Herald. Dershowitz showed Krischer photos scraped from the girl’s social media that depicted her using marijuana, the Herald reported.”

      “In a written public statement in 2011, Acosta accused Epstein’s lawyers of carrying out a ‘year-long assault’ on prosecutors, investigating their families and personal lives. Private investigators for Epstein allegedly posed as police officers and followed the girls and their families, according to the Herald.”

      “The Pipeline Parity Project, a Law School student group whose mission is to end harassment and discrimination in the legal profession, wrote in a statement that the allegations against Dershowitz are perturbing.

      “’The allegations against Alan Dershowitz are disturbing, as is Harvard’s silence in response,’ the group wrote. ‘Harvard maintains its policy of institutional silence, and our community is left with the harm that has been done.’

      “The group denounced Harvard’s failure to launch a public investigation into the allegations against Dershowitz and compared it to the school’s decision not to investigate charges of sexual assault brought against Brett M. Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court this fall. Kavanaugh taught at the Law School for roughly a decade before indicating he would not return to teach his class in January 2019.”

      “Amelia Y. Goldberg ’19 — a member of Our Harvard Can Do Better, an anti-sexual assault advocacy group — wrote in an email that she finds the allegations against both Dershowitz and Epstein ‘deeply disturbing.'”

      “’Efforts to protect perpetrators of sexual violence are unconscionable,’ Goldberg wrote.”

      • ckg on December 12, 2018, 6:47 pm

        Thanks for this Misterioso. So Desrshowitz keeps changing his story about the massage. How could his wife have been present during the massage as said the deposition, if he, as he said in 2016, immediately called her afterwards?

        From the Palm Beach Daily News in 2016:

        “I never got a massage from anybody. It’s made up out of whole cloth,” Dershowitz said in a Jan. 21, 2015, article in the New York Daily News. In an interview the following day on Local 10 News, he said, “I kept my underwear on during the massage.”

        Dershowitz said he received one massage at Epstein’s house “from a woman in her 40s. I think her name was Olga. I called my wife after getting the massage. It was an unpleasant experience. I’ve always acknowledged I had one massage. I said that from day one.”

      • marc b. on December 13, 2018, 7:35 am

        Only one massage from Olga, and he didn’t like it. Now we know who advised Clinton to claim he didn’t inhale. Dershowitz has always been more Roy Cohn than Laurence Tribe.

  2. RoHa on December 11, 2018, 5:51 pm

    Everyone is entitled to a vigorous defence in court. The NYT is not a court.

    • Tuyzentfloot on December 12, 2018, 11:55 am

      Getting Dershowitz to defend you is
      1. a full admission of guilt
      2. stating you’re going to evade justice by any dirty trick possible

  3. Marnie on December 12, 2018, 4:16 am

    I seem to only be able to associate dershner with nazis, crooks, pedophiles, misogynists and human waste. It might have a lot to do with the extremely low bar he has set for himself wrt what is ‘a very good person’. Does that even mean anything anymore?

  4. CarlH on December 12, 2018, 7:43 am

    Whenever rich dirtbags need to be saved from the consequences of their actions, Alan Dershowitz will come to their aid. For generous compensation, of course.

  5. Jackdaw on December 12, 2018, 12:30 pm

    James bagged two Jews on safari, neither of whom really have much connection to the I/P conflict.

    Do they, James?

    • annie on December 12, 2018, 2:30 pm

      dershowitz doesn’t have much connection to i/p? tell the msm, he’s got top pundit status hauled out to defend israel routinely and he wrote the goto handbook for students taught in prep schools to learn how to defend israel on campus. say what you will about dersh, but claiming he’s doesn’t have “much connection to i/p” is a farce.

      • annie on December 12, 2018, 2:40 pm

        just go to youtube and place “dershowitz defends israel” and there are endless videos. listen to dersh go up against marc lamont hill and peter beinart on cnn during israel’s 2014 summer slaughter in gaza, arguing israel is not an occupying power there.

    • eljay on December 12, 2018, 2:44 pm

      || Jackdaw: James bagged two Jews on safari … ||

      He bagged two sleazeballs on safari. You anti-Semitically “counted Jews”.

      • Jackdaw on December 12, 2018, 4:23 pm


        You are here for one reason.


        Jews, and only Jews.


      • annie on December 12, 2018, 4:31 pm

        if i referred to ‘bagging two Jews on safari’ yonah, jon and slew of others would be on me faster than flies on sh*t. have they ever gone after jack for anything?

      • Jackdaw on December 13, 2018, 2:50 am


        They haven’t gone after me because they also recognise what James North has done. James has gone on a ‘Jew hunt’.

        He has shamed two Jews, neither of whom have any real connection to the I/P conflict.

        There are a far greater number of slezeball Gentiles in this world, but James North focuses only on the Jewish ones.

        Screw James, and the wilfully blind who condone him.

      • eljay on December 13, 2018, 9:36 am

        || Jackdaw: eljay.

        You are here for one reason.


        Jews, and only Jews.

        Jews. ||

        I don’t know how many that is, but I do know that you know how to count them.

      • eljay on December 13, 2018, 9:48 am

        || Jackdaw: @Annie

        They haven’t gone after me because they also recognise what James North has done. James has gone on a ‘Jew hunt’.

        He has shamed two Jews … ||

        The article is about an Israeli and an American. You anti-Semitically turned it into a “Jew hunt” and shamed two Jews. Put your Captain Israel underpants back on and find the courage to stand behind your actions.

      • wondering jew on December 13, 2018, 1:04 pm

        annie- frankly i do not come to mondoweiss to focus on people or issues that i don’t care about. here’s my thought: safari comes from arabic. that interests me far more than what jackdaw said about dershowitz and this other guy.

        i saw dershowitz debate beinart once. that was interesting. jackdaw’s statement is not interesting.

        you are the primary person from the editorial side of mondoweiss who argues down here in the comments section. i pay attention to what you say and not to what jackdaw says.

      • amigo on December 13, 2018, 3:14 pm

        ” i pay attention to what you say and not to what jackdaw says.”WJ aka Yonah Fredman.

        Of course you don,t pay attention to Jackdaw and the other zionist apologists.You are far too busy looking for Antisemitism under every nook and cranny , which is why you are here.

        Annie is right , your fellow apologists can make any slur against Arabs they wish , tell the same lies over and over and you just sit back and post reams of tedious off topic blather just like the hypocrite you are.

        Oh don,t bother replying Yonah , that is not the point of this post.

      • Mooser on December 14, 2018, 4:31 pm

        “You are here for one reason.Jews.”

        ROTFLMSJAO!! “Jackdaw”, you are here for the same reason: Jews! Why, if it wasn’t for Mondo, you might have to spend time talking to Jews, the ones all around you.

      • RoHa on December 14, 2018, 6:50 pm

        “Why, if it wasn’t for Mondo, you might have to spend time talking to Jews, the ones all around you.”

        It’s good to know that MW serves a useful and beneficial purpose.

    • Marnie on December 13, 2018, 12:15 am
  6. genesto on December 12, 2018, 12:51 pm

    With Dershowitz, it has always been about winning first, at any cost. Justice takes a back seat in Mr. Dershowitz’s world.

    • DaBakr on December 12, 2018, 3:30 pm

      . And why should anybody trust that you and your cohorts here at MW understand justice? there is a system of laws that is supposedly blind that theoretically, but not always, delivers justice. That this needs to be explained to you is one thing. But, there are other forms of justice if you prefer. Sharia. Plains justice. Texas style. Saudi style. Mullah style. Shotgun style. You pick. Dershawitz uses the US constitution as his source material. If you have a problem, appeal.

      • annie on December 12, 2018, 4:29 pm

        dabakr, it’s hypocritical to tout justice “supposedly blind” and the US constitution knowing dershowitz could care less about either of those things as he advocates for a state that respects neither.

      • MHughes976 on December 13, 2018, 4:31 pm

        I’m sure that Annie understands as well as anyone that there are many systems of law that attempt but always to a degree fail to embody justice, of which we all have some idea outside what we know of legal systems.
        In the NYT report by Kenneth Vogel Dershowitz shows no sign of arguing specifically constitutional law, he just says that his client Gertler is a good man blamed for the actions of others, ie appeals, sincerely or cynically, to our general ideas of justice. I must say that I don’t feel particularly outraged by the fact in itself of Dershowitz’s having taken on this particular client. Perhaps he does think, contrary to the Magnitsky Act people, that the accusations against Gertler are exaggerated. It’s not awful for a lawyer to make this sort of brief remark at a conference which the Press attends.
        I was interested to read in Vogel’s article (should have known, perhaps) that D, Israel’s most assertive, untiring and articulate apologist, whose 2003 ‘Case for Israel’ is still well known, is sometimes invited to the White House specifically to discuss ME matters. O mi God.
        James is of course being accused of anti-Semitism but I wonder if he is concentrating on the widely criticised Dershowitz rather than drawing out the wider ‘penumbra’ of Vogel’s article which concerns the ramifications of the international security-providing industry and the very deep Israeli involvement, through firms like Mer which Vogel mentions, in that industry’s workings. To start discussing all that in terms which don’t invite accusations of anti-Semitism is a complicated task.

      • Mooser on December 13, 2018, 6:06 pm

        “But, there are other forms of justice if you prefer. Sharia. Plains justice. Texas style. Saudi style. Mullah style. Shotgun style. You pick”

        How come “Jewish Law” isn’t among the choices?

      • DaBakr on December 17, 2018, 2:48 am


        Because the ten commandments are all over the place dude

      • DaBakr on December 17, 2018, 2:52 am


        I, nor do you apparently, not know that he could “care less” about any of those things. Unless he said he doesn’t specifically. You may be inferring from his legal opinions but you don’t actually know this.

      • Mooser on December 17, 2018, 2:09 pm

        “Because the ten commandments are all over the place dude” “Dabakr”

        ROTFLMSJAO!! Yes, Israeli law makes frequent reference to it, and considers the Ten Commandments the bedrock law of Israel, donnit?.

      • DaBakr on December 17, 2018, 4:24 pm


        Yeah, I thought you’d get a kick out of Moses tablets wth your reference to “Jewish law” and all.
        Brought to you by court houses throughout the USA.

  7. Ossinev on December 13, 2018, 5:39 pm

    Everytime I watch and listen to Dershowitz a tiny but only a very tiny part of me feels sorry for him as in he must have had a pretty negative time at school given his smarmy,creepy,snidey mannerisms and his constant but mummy but mummy a big boy just hit me interruptions.

    Really looking forward to a specific panel situation where having listened politely and silently to what he has said the chair panel or the panellist who is being constantly interrupted by him turns to him and loudly and clearly says you have had your say will you now please STFU and let me have mine.

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