q&a with alan dershowitz

  1. 237 Posts.
    Q&A with Alan Dershowitz

    Jess Rigsby, Morrisville, NC:

    I'm a second year law student at Duke, and as I write this the "Palestinian Solidarity Movement" conference is gearing up on Duke's campus. Can you briefly explain to me how Duke's playing host to a group of people who refuse to condemn terrorism directed at Jewish civilians relates to "academic freedom"? I don't think Duke's administration would be so accommodating to old-line hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan... is Jew-killing just more liberal-chic these days than other forms of racism and hate?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    You have put your finger precisely on the issue. If Duke in fact would not accommodate the KKK, then it should not accommodate the Palestinian Solidarity Movement. But if it has a policy of open access to all groups without regard to content, then it is doing the right thing. The one thing no university should tolerate is a double standard.

    Joel Farber, Lancaster, PA:

    What basis is there in law for your opposition to the settlements?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    My opposition to the settlements deep in the West Bank and in Gaza is not based on the law. Indeed I have argued that Jews should have the right to live anywhere in the West Bank and in Gaza, as they should anywhere in the world. I believe, however, that in the interest of peace and the two state solution, the Jews who live in these settlements should be relocated either within the Green Line or within the area that is likely to become the final borders of Israel. The world should recognize, however, that this is in the nature of a compromise and that the Jewish settlers are being asked to surrender their legal rights in the interests of peace.

    Earl Mann, Toronto:

    There are implicit threats to do away with a two state solution'. Are there any legal grounds whatsoever to do this?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    The one state solution proposal now being made by Palestinian lawyers and some anti-Israel academics is nothing more than a ploy. It is designed to destroy the Jewish state of Israel and to substitute another Islamic Arab state. Those who advocate the single state solution would never do so with regard to India, the former Yugoslavia, or other previously united states which have now been divided on ethnic or religious grounds.

    Dennis Wolf, San Jose:

    Should Israel have sent a legal team to The Hague to argue its case for the security fence?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    Israel should not have sent a legal team to the Hague because when it comes to Israel, that court is a sham, with a predetermined result. Israel should not legitimate such a legal travesty. It's own Supreme Court is far more capable of rendering a nuanced judgment on the complex issues growing out of the Security Fence.

    Akram Zekaria, London:

    Don't you think the world needs laws to protect innocent civilians in times of war? Are there such laws?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    The law certainly does need to protect innocent civilians. The first step it should take is to recognize that it is a war crime for terrorists to hide among civilians, thereby requiring democracies to choose between allowing the terrorists to continue to kill innocent civilians in a democracy or taking military action which will often result in some civilian casualties. The fault for all civilian casualties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies exclusively with the Palestinian terrorists, who deliberately create a situation in which civilians will be killed.

    Leon Katz, West St.Paul, Mn:

    Could the U.S. technically issue an arrest warrant for Yasser Arafat because of his involvement in the murders of Americans in the Middle East and elsewhere?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    Yes. Arafat is clearly guilty of murdering American diplomats, and the CIA has his voice on tape ordering the murders. There is no statute of limitations for murder.

    Kenny, Cambridge, Mass:

    What would you respond to an 'average American' who asks why American foreign policy should be so considerate of Israel's well-being, thereby creating many enemies in the Middle East and all over the world?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    American foreign policy rests on favoring democracies over tyrannies and supporting our allies. Were America ever to abandon Israel, such an immoral action would destroy America's credibility. Israel is also an important strategic and military ally that provides the United States with important intelligence information and other benefits. That is why every American president and nearly every American congressman and senator supports Israel, even when their own electoral interests do not require such support.

    David Kopel, New York:

    How do square your support for John Kerry with his repeated public commitments to submit American foreign policy to consensus arrangements with the UN, when you yourself have assailed the UN's record of outright anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic bias?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    I strongly support John Kerry for President because he would be better for America, better for the world and better for Israel. Yes, better for Israel. He understands better than President Bush does that the major threat to Israel's existence comes from Iran, not Iraq. Kerry has not said that he would ever submit American foreign policy, or the welfare of America's allies, to a U.N. or foreign veto. He will, however, try to broaden international support for Israel. I strongly believe that no presidential election should ever be turned into a referendum on Israel and that it is important that both parties must continue to support Israel as vigorously as they do.

    Marc Lampert, Toronto, Canada:

    I've heard a lot of people on Israel's opposition claim that Sharon is unfit to broker peace because he is a "war criminal". How do we respond to these claims about Sharon?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    Most people who call Sharon a war criminal regard Yasser Arafat as a hero. The claim is political and utterly incredible. I too criticize Sharon's indirect involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, as did the Israeli commission, but those massacres were conducted by Lebanese Christians in revenge for massacres conducted against their leaders and their people.

    Meir Yoram, Moryouseff, Paris, France:

    Do you think that Israel has the right to launch a strike against Iran's nuclear program? Could 'targeted assassinations' of nuclear scientists be justified?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    Legally and morally both Israel and the United States would have the right to launch preemptive strikes against Iran's nuclear program. Recall that leading Iranian mullahs have indicated that Iran would use its nuclear capacity to kill three million Jews. I also believe that targeted assassinations of criminals who are illegally building weapons of mass destruction, can, under certain circumstances, be justified morally. I think the legal case would be much harder to make.

    David Bratslavsky:

    Assuming that Israel's interpretation of Gaza/West Bank as 'disputed territories' (rather than occupied territories) is accepted, is the forced transfer of Jewish communities out of Gaza legal under international law?

    Alan Dershowitz: A nation may legally resettle its own citizens in the interest of making peace.

    Marshall Luban, Ames:

    How do you counter the claims made by Michael Tarazi in his "Two Peoples, One State" op-ed published in the NY Times on 10/4/04?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    The Tarazi proposal is a total fraud designed to substitute an Islamic Arab state for the Jewish state of Israel. My full reply to this proposal was published in the (London) Sunday Times on October 26, 2003 as "The Opposing View: From Leading Jewish American Lawyer Alan Dershowitz". I can only tell you that Tarazi would be the first person to oppose a one state solution if he believed that Arabs would be a permanent minority in that state.

    Yaakov Cohn, Framingham:

    The Presbyterian Church (USA) has refused to back further away from its decision to divest in companies that do business with Israel. It seems that the much-touted meeting between Jewish leaders and the PCUSA failed to move the church leadership from its position. Do you have any proposals as to how Jews should respond to the PCUSA?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    The actions of the Presbyterian Church are utterly immoral and anti-Semitic in effect, if not in intent (though for some who voted for it, I wonder about the intent). We must take a stronger stance in calling bigotry by its proper name. For my full views on this issue, see Los Angeles Times Commentary "Presbyterians' Shameful Boycott," Aug. 4, 2004. The same is true for the Episcopal Church's proposal to join the Presbyterian bigotry.

    Adam Feit, Cambridge, Mass:

    I have often marveled at how many Jewish faculty at respectable universities are so vehemently anti-Israel. Why do you think this is so?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    Most academics I know are guilty of a sin worse than being anti-Israel. They are pro-Israel, but are too cowardly to say so in public. They fear criticism by colleagues and students. The anti-Israel sentiments cannot be explained rationally under a single standard. Consider for example the selective opposition to Israel's occupation by many who support China's occupation of Tibet, Syria's occupation of Lebanon, and a continued occupation of Kurdistan.

    Tom Goldberg, Montreal:

    If invited by the Jewish students at Concordia University in Montreal, would you come to give a lecture on campus, in light of the university's rejection of a proposed speech by former PM Ehud Barak?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    I would only speak at Concordia University if former PMs Netanyahu and Barak were also invited. Concordia has lost its status as a real university by its bigoted and cowardly actions.

    Dov Bet-El, Jerusalem:

    I and my friends want to sue the BBC for slander of the Jewish people due to their reporting about Israel, which we think is greatly encouraging anti-Semitism. Do we stand a chance?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    No. A slander suit is not the answer to the BBC's one-sided reporting. They must continue to be exposed in the marketplace of ideas.

    Yoel Reiner, Haifa:

    It's no secret that Israel is very unpopular in Europe and on campuses in the United States. What is being done to improve Israel's image against the constant attacks that supposedly come from "enlightened" people?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    You put your finger on a very serious problem to which there is no simple solution. Israel must do a better job in making its case and supporters of Israel must become more vocal. I believe that the fight against anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic bigotry is one of the most important human rights issues of the 21st century.

    Ronny Schnapp, Sydney:

    It has been suggested that international law needs to be updated to accommodate the actions of democracies in the War on Terror. Do you agree with this and if so, how can these updates be introduced?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    I completely agree that international law must be updated. I have written extensively about that issue. See my article "The Laws of War Weren't Written for This War " published in The Wall Street Journal Europe, February 12, 2004.

    Roi Ben-Yehuda, Stanford:

    Since more American tax money goes into Israel than any other individual nation, do not Americans have a right and a responsibility to single Israel out and make sure that their money is not being used in the wrong way?

    Alan Dershowitz:

    It is a myth that Israel receives more money than any other country. Israel earns what it receives through providing intelligence, military and other support to the United States. Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and other Arab and Muslim countries receive outright gifts in order to prop up undemocratic regimes. They do not earn their money. Nor do they receive any where near as much criticism as Israel does. See my article "The Case Against Jordan"published in the Jerusalem Post on October 7, 2003.

    Kenneth Sikorski, Suolahti:

    Is proportionality (in military actions) in the 'eye of the beholder', to be defined/determined by states individually? I can imagine different regions entertaining different concepts, of what constitutes a proper proportional response.

    Alan Dershowitz:

    However one defines proportionality, Israel's actions since its founding have been more proportional than any country faced with comparable threats. They have killed fewer civilians than any country in comparable wars. For proof of this, see my book The Case For Israel, particularly chapters 18-20, 28 and 29.

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