Home > Israel, Middle East, Palestinian Authority, Palestinians > Alan Dershowitz’ Impassioned Speech Calling Out the U.N. for Its Pro-Palestinian Bias In No Uncertain Terms. What Do You Think?

Alan Dershowitz’ Impassioned Speech Calling Out the U.N. for Its Pro-Palestinian Bias In No Uncertain Terms. What Do You Think?

October 4, 2011

Alan Dershowitz from Israelseen.com

This post is going to be long.  It consists of a e-mail exchange between myself and one of our best friends.  She is an Israeli liberal.  She recently forwarded me a video of a speech that Alan Dershowitz gave about ten days ago at the “Durban Watch” Conference sponsored by the Hudson Institute and Touro University(“the largest Jewish-sponsored educational institution in the United States” according to its website).  I had hoped to embed the video right here so you could watch it, but it is at Pajama Media’s PJTV and evidently can’t be embedded here.  I urge you to view the clip (or part of it – it runs about 17 minutes): 

Durban Watch: Alan Dershowitz — Harvard Professor and Best-Selling Author

In this speech, Prof. Dershowitz very convincingly asks how the U.N. can dare to say that it has any moral authority since as far back as 1975 it has done virtually nothing for oppressed people of the world like the Cambodians under Pol Pot, the Rwandans, the Chechens, etc.  because they have been preoccupied with discussing Israeli human rights violations.  Further, he points out that it is ludicrous to say that a vote to admit the Palestinians is in support of the two-state solution because a large number of the voting countries do not recognize Israel as a legitimate state.  So, they are really only supporting a one state solution – Palestine.  He then goes on to talk about the rights of Arabs in Israel, the great medical and other scientific devices that Israel has given the world, and the very effective counter-terrorism methods which have become the state of the art.

The following is the email trail between my friend and myself.  I have eliminated the identifying names and the chronological order has been set in reading order so that the earliest posts are first, but otherwise, the debate is verbatim.

My question to all out there:

A. Is my correspondent correct?  Did I “reject it all”, or did I give Dershowitz his due and refute him where appropriate?

B. Do you agree with Dershowitz’ argument?

C. Do you agree with Dershowitz’ style and delivery?

I would love to hear your comments

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From:  A FRIEND OF G’s – M.S.  Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 10:19 PM
To: G     Subject: Alan Dershowitz – what a speech

 None of you will suspect me to be a Zionist or a pro State of Israel’s policy. But you all must listen to this profound words of the no. 1 supporter of Israel, the fame Alan Dershowitz, and I am very serious.Listen to him. Go to this link.

http://www.pjtv.com/?cmd=mpg&load=6057&mpid=457

From, M.S.

__________________________________________________________________

From: G    Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 3:10 PM
To:  Mark Zivin;
Subject: FW: Alan Dershowitz – what a speech

 Hi,

Although I do not support the policy of Israel these days, I do think that Dershowitz’s speech to which you can listen on this link is really impressive and has a lot in it.

Let’s hope for better news this coming year

__________________________________________________________________

From: Mark Zivin Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 12:02 AM
To: G
Subject: RE: Alan Dershowitz – what a speech

 Although Dershowitz makes some excellent points, I find him to be one of the most arrogant, one-sided and sometimes hypocritical apologists for Israel.  He has become a caricature of his early pro-Israel self and he has lost all credibility with me.

 The points that resonated with me include the following:

  1. There is no doubt that the UN continues to be an extremely anti-Israel body – I personally do not believe that it should be condemned wholesale as many on the right here in the US do.  I believe that it is a flawed organization  – but still accomplishes much good in the world.
  2. I particularly liked his suggestion that any state that is not willing to recognize Israel not be allowed to vote on Palestinian admission. However, unfortunately, while the application obviously implies that it is within a two-state framework, I am not sure that there is anything explicit about that in the application
  3. I was very surprised to hear his claim that Fayad is asking for multiple times the land area for acceding to 1) Jewish Quarter, 2) Route to Hebrew U. and , 3)Western Wall.  I have NOT heard that anywhere else.  As a matter of fact, it was my understanding that in several of the previous proposals, Israel offered less land.   This is the type of claim that causes me to question the veracity of everything he says.  Look, he claims that Fayad told him this face-to-face, so I guess I have to believe him.  However, as with most political statements, one really needs to know the context in which a statement is made – so as to make sure that it was not in some way taken out of context.

 Actually, the impression I got from the tone of Dershowitz’ rant was that he is damn pissed off that the Palestinians are making a very smart political move by going to the UN.

 Finally, I don’t if you are aware that Pajamas Media (PJTV) is a predominately right-wing media outlook that – similar to MEMRI and CAMERA – will rarely, if ever, publish anything that criticizes Israel.  While they claim to ‘set the record straight’ and ‘counter the left-wing media’ and do translate/publish some very interesting information – they are so one-sided that in my mind, they have very little credibility.  Camera in particular looks for anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias everywhere – and in my mind often stretch the truth in doing so.

 Also, the Hudson Institute is a right-wing think tank in DC – and very partisan.

 Anyhow, thanks for forwarding this.  I am a big believer in listening to all points of view.

 Hope all is well with you guys.

 Love,  Mark

__________________________________________________________________

From: G Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2011 5:21 PM
To: Mark Zivin
Subject: RE: Alan Dershowitz – what a speech 

Dear Mark,

Anything that you say about Dershowitz or the media that you mention is right. However, you do not address his main points! It is incredible to hear about the fact that the UN did not deal with Cambodia and at that time they were condemning Israel. It is amazing to realize that they never deal with what Turkey or Syria are doing while at the same time they are voting against Israel permanently. And so on and so on… I will not go again into the arguments that he brings. Most of the things he says are right! I am sorry to say that in your arguments you sound one sided also. You know that I do not agree with the politics of our government, but I am also tired of everybody (especially the British) blindly supporting the Palestinians only without really understanding the problem in depth.

Gmar chatima tova

G

__________________________________________________________________

From: Mark Zivin  Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 12:47 AM
To:Subject: RE: Alan Dershowitz – what a speech

 First, I didn’t address those issues because I have not had time to research whether he is totally correct or not.  He may well be – but I don’t take what virtually anybody says without fact checking.  Plus, I am sorry but for me citing events (as tragic as they may be) that are 35 years old don’t support or refute where the UN is today – and what positive role they may play in the world.     

 Finally, as my mom used to say, “two wrongs don’t make a right”.    The fact that the UN is anti-Israel does not address whether or not anything is really accomplished by the Palestinians going to the UN.  I personally don’t believe that Abbas went to the UN because he thought that somehow magically this would “create” the State of Palestine.  I think that he went because the peace talks are at a standstill and that he was trying to shake things up.  It appears that he has.

 Bibi has agreed to come back to the negotiating table with no pre-conditions.  I read that the Palestinians have rejected that – which makes me extremely angry at them – but perhaps that will change.  I certainly hope that the two sides can at least start talking.

__________________________________________________________________

From: G
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 12:02 AM
To: Mark Zivin
Subject: RE: Alan Dershowitz – what a speech 

Even if part of it is right, you should give it consideration. But you reject it all at once just because it is him and also because it is about Israel. He is on the extreme side and so are you in your response.

__________________________________________________________________

From: Mark Zivin
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 10:19 PM
To:Subject: RE: Alan Dershowitz – what a speech

While there is no question that I dislike Mr. Dershowitz, and that came through loud and clear in my response to you, I don’t reject all of his arguments out of hand and I am sorry that I didn’t do a better job of communicating that.  I should have spent more time in expressing my points of agreement and also in explaining my disagreements.  I did indicate a couple points of agreement:

  1. There is no doubt that the UN continues to be an extremely anti-Israel body – I personally do not believe that it should be condemned wholesale as many on the right here in the US do.  I believe that it is a flawed organization  – but still accomplishes much good in the world.
  2. I particularly liked his suggestion that any state that is not willing to recognize Israel not be allowed to vote on Palestinian admission. However, unfortunately, while the application obviously implies that it is within a two-state framework, I am not sure that there is anything explicit about that in the application

However, I simply don’t agree with much of his assessment of why the Palestinians decided to go to the UN – but that opinion is not based on the fact Dershowitz’ delivery or how I feel about him personally, but simply that I don’t agree with his assessment of why they went (that is, his contention that they went because the UN is so pro-Palestinian and the Palestinians “occupy” the United Nations).  Don’t get me wrong  – yes, the UN is pro-Palestinian - I certainly believe that, and there are many, many examples of that.  However, going to the UN was not their first resort – but rather a pretty late resort.  That is, for example, Abbas has been in power since 2005 – and it is only now that he is going to the UN.  Instead, he spent a considerable amount of time trying to reach agreement with Olmert and reports are that they were very, very close to an agreement.  This seems to me to be a pretty strong argument against D’s contention that the Palestinians’ main reason for going to the UN was because of its advocacy in favor of the Palestinians to the detriment of all other oppressed minorities in the world.  In addition, while I personally don’t believe that going to the UN per se, is going to solve anything – I think that it is a very smart, clever and non-violent tactic.  Therefore, rather than ranting and raving (which you have to admit Dershowitz does), I think it behooves everyone – no matter whether they are on the right or the left – to calmly and intelligently analyze this significant change in tactics.  I am personally extremely happy to see that the main stream Palestinian authorities seem to have rejected violence as a tactic.  (There are glaring exceptions like their honoring suicide bombers, and the PA’s possible reconciliation with Hamas – (but so far, they have not been able to reconcile and presumably one of the issues is their point of view on violence and terrorism)).  I still have a lot of history to learn, but it is my recollection that Arafat never rejected violence.  As evidence that the current government has made tremendous strides in eliminating violence, one only has to look at the fact that the heads of Israeli security have indicated the great advances that the PA police forces have made.  So much so that they were able to open up a significant number of checkpoints about two years ago. 

Many experts believe that the most serious threat to the occupation now is if the Palestinians can maintain discipline and successfully mount massive non-violent protests.  Israel does not seem to have an answer to major non-violent protest.  A group of us met with Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. a few weeks ago in Washington.  He had recently returned from a Congressional Delegation tour of Israel led by Steny Hoyer.  On that tour, he met with both the top Israeli political and military leaders, and the top Palestinian political leaders.  I know there are many people who think Jackson, Jr. is both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, but you cannot deny that he is very concerned and well informed on the issues.  He has been to Israel as a Congressman five times and to the West Bank several times – and to the best of my knowledge, these tours were organized by AIPAC, so no one can suggest that he has been “brain-washed” by radicals.  In any event, he was visibly upset and pessimistic about the situation.  There was one thing in particular that he said that I found very insightful and worth considering.  He said they were briefed by Israeli military and security leaders about the entire security situation.  When it came time for questions and answers, he asked what their plan was for countering a major non-violent protest (e.g., a march on the East Jerusalem check point by hundreds of non-violent protesters).  He said that they had no answer.  They simply talked around the issue.  That is disturbing…

 On a separate issue, I was about as disappointed with Abbas’ UN speech as I was with Dershowitz’ YouTube clip.  Abbas basically reiterated all of the old Palestinian talking points about the Nakba, etc.  Of particular note was his mentioning “63 years of occupation”.  That goes back to 1948 so by implication he seemed to be denying Israel’s right to exist.  What a step backwards.  Pretty depressing for us two-staters.  Further, he offered virtually no ‘olive branch’ that could be used as a way to bridge the gap.  On the other hand, Bibi’s speech was masterful – as usual – and certainly went a long way to reaching out to the Palestinians.  It’s a shame that Abbas didn’t call Bibi’s bluff – and agree to meet him the same day at the UN.  Now that would have been the sign of a great leader.  Further disheartening, the Palestinians also appear to have rejected the Quartet’s current negotiations to get everybody back to the table. 

 My final word to you is simply that I hope I can convince you that I do my best to give all sides consideration.  That is one of my core ideals.  Like most ideals, one doesn’t always live up to them, but I certainly try to.

 Sending lots of love,

 Mark

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