Monday, February 16, 2009

This is how the Lobby operates: the Case of Alan Dershowitz

As you may or may not know, there is something afoot in the world of academia in America (again...).

Or, rather, was - it was quashed, with no American media exposure.

OK, OK - first things first.

The Independent, Hampshire College Becomes First U.S. University to Divest from Israeli Occupation:

Since July 2005, a coalition of Palestinian groups has called on ”people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era”. On Feb. 7, Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts became the first U.S. institution of higher learning to divest in companies that directly profit from Israel’s rule over the Occupied Territories. Below is a press release that went out earlier today from Students for Justice In Palestine, a campus group that led the divestment effort.


Hampshire College becomes first college in U.S. to divest from Israeli Occupation!

Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

This is, or rather was, a boycott American companies doing business with Israel - because it is an apartheid state.

But somehow, in America, while criticizing South Africa's apartheid system in the 1980's was the thing to do, encouraged and supported by left and centrist and right wing individuals, human rights advocates, politicians, student organizations...

... the same cannot be said about criticizing Israel's apartheid policy.

This event was huge, and it shook the world of academia, the world of colleges and universities (where supposedly free speech is encouraged - snort!).

And so the courageous students became targets, and the college itself even more so.

This was something the Orwellian thought police could not, would not tolerate.

Especially since this event made waves in international newscasts and media, especially when archbishop Desmond Tutu endorsed the peaceful protest.

So what exactly did this protest entail?

Democracy Now:

The Board of Trustees at Hampshire College has agreed to divest from six companies because of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Hampshire is believed to be the first US college or university to divest from companies tied to the Israeli military. The companies are Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola and Terex.

This was a boycott of American companies that are doing business with the IDF; Caterpillar will always be associated with the Israeli Army bulldozer and its driver which maliciously rolled over the naive American girl, Rachel Corrie, crushing her to a gruesome death.

So what happened?

First, lets see if you know exactly who is Alan Dershowitz?

Lets look at wikipedia:
Alan Morton Dershowitz (born September 1, 1938) is an American lawyer, jurist, and political commentator. He is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is known for his career as an attorney in several high-profile law cases and commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

OK, he is a lawyer and a political commentator, famous for his commenting on the Israeli-Arab conflicts.

Being an American, of course he tries to be fair and non-partial while "commenting" on the Israeli-Arab conflict, right? (Riiiiiiiiiiiiight).

Lets look at Amazon, and our dear Alan's book, The Case for Israel.

There is a saying that history often repeats itself, and in the case of the Amherst college, that is indeed the case.

Wikipedia again:
In spring 2002, as reported later by the Harvard Crimson, a "petition, which calls for Harvard and MIT to divest from Israel and from American companies that sell arms to Israel, [and which] also calls for the U.S. government to stop supplying weapons until four specific conditions are met by the Israeli government," gathered over 600 signatures, including 74 from the Harvard faculty and 56 from MIT faculty members. Among the signatures was that of Harvard's Winthrop House Master Paul D. Hanson, who "signed the petition as a professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations" and whom Dershowitz "publicly a debate over the Israel divestment petition." But "saying Hanson had turned down his offer, Dershowitz staged a solo debate in the Winthrop Junior Common Room [at Harvard]. Standing beside a chair with a copy of the petition taped to it, he said students and professors who had signed the petition were antisemitic and knew 'basically nothing about the Middle East.'"

According to Adams, "'Your House master is a bigot and you ought to know that,' he told the crowd of about 200 students. 'Everyone else who signed that petition is also a bigot.'"

So, do you know now exactly who Alan Dershowitz is?

I will let you form your own view, but I will tell you my own personal view of this man anyway - I have to vent, you see.

Our dear Alan is an ego centric, pompous ass, but worse, he is another 'Israel first', yet another "American" in quotation quotes.

Our very own fifth column.

My favorite blogger, Phillip Weiss, picks up the narrative:

First calls to students who spearheaded Hampshire divestment came from an angered Alan Dershowitz

Immediately after Hampshire College announced they had divested from the Israeli occupation, there was another story that Professor Alan Dershowitz had made threatening phone calls to students who had worked to pass the divestment. This seemed like an odd story - how would Dershowitz get student's private phone numbers? And while he might be expected to create a media circus out of this, would he really try to harass and intimidate students?

Ends up that he would.

Brian Van Slyke:
It was Thursday morning and we had just broken to the press. Already we were terrified, mind you we were about to take on one of the world's most powerful political machines. What's more is that we were a little unprepared, as a local newspaper was coming out with the story a day early and so we had to go all out sooner than we expected (lest the media pick up on the story for a full day without our voices out there).

I woke up a little later than I had planned on. I knew we were about to get flooded with phone calls from the media and I didn't want them to wake me up and not be ready for their questions. Already people were running around the house, pacing with nervousness, on the phone with the media and arguing in Hebrew, or in the bathroom about to lose their breakfast.

Soon, everyone left but Matan and I. I came out of my room after responding to some e-mails from reporters and Matan came up to me:

"Brian, I just got off the phone with Alan Dershowitz."

I was still a little tired, and I didn't quite get it. "Wait, who?"

"Alan Dershowitz"

This woke me up. "What did he say?"

Matan smiled, "He said: I should have known you were involved. Then he went on to say he's going to organize a boycott of me and of the college."

"Oh." We knew we might be hearing from Dershowitz, but certainly not only after an hour or so of being out to the press. That was a little intimidating. "How did he get your number?" I asked. Matan didn't know.

About 20 minutes later I got a call from Andrew, another SJPer. "Listen, Brian, I just got a call from Alan Dershowitz. He's threatening to organize an international divestment campaign of Hampshire."

"What does that even mean?" I asked. Andrew didn't know.

A little bit later, I got a phone call. I thought it was my first reporter. I grabbed the cell phone, started pacing, and answered.

"Hello, Brian?"


"Hi, this is Professor Alan Dershowitz. I'm calling to find out if Hampshire College divested from Israel."

My heart sank. I was not ready for this. I stumbled: "I don't know, you should read our press release. Which I also think says we divested from the Israeli occupation, not Israel."

"I have read your press release. And I'm asking you."

"Okay, well look, I don't think I'm going to talk to you about this."


"Listen, I'm not going to talk to you. Sorry, bye." Click. I hung up the phone. I called up the stairs to Matan:

"Matan... I think I just did something bad. I think I just hung up on Alan Dershowitz."

"Good," Matan replied.

Our dear Alan is an attack dog of the lobby, who, because he had a successful career as a lawyer and is respected in the world of intelligentsia and academia, fills in the role he is assigned admirably.

He is used to bark at people who dare to criticize anything Israel, and baring his fangs, fur straight out, cold saliva spitting on the floor, growling, spits out words such as racist, bigot, and, of course, the ever lovable anti-semite.

Because, while the world recoiled in horror when they watched South African police during the era of the apartheid fire rubber (and sometimes real) bullets into students marching to get the rights of every human being (life, liberty and freedom), the world, especially the so called West, especially the USofA, is just fine with Israeli soldiers firing rubber (and sometimes real) bullets into Arab kids marching to get the rights of every human being (life, liberty and freedom).

So, going back to the Amherst college...

The Boston Globe:
Student activists at Hampshire College are hailing a divestment decision by the board of trustees that they say makes the college the first in the country to break financial ties with companies specifically because they do business with Israel. But the college strenuously denies the move was politically motivated.

The campus group at the Amherst school, Students for Justice in Palestine, said it had pressured the board to divest from six companies because of human rights concerns in the Palestinian territories. The group said it urged trustees to sell off holdings in a mutual fund run by State Street Global Advisors that invests in companies that "provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza."

But in a statement released today, university officials said the decision to divest from the fund was made "without reference to any country or political movement."

Instead, trustees concluded that the fund held stocks in more than 200 companies engaged in business practices that violated the college’s policy on "socially responsible investments." These violations included unfair labor practices, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing, and unsafe workplace settings, trustees said.

You see, the college did not divest from these companies because of their business with the apartheid state of Israel.

No, of course, it is only because of "unfair labor practices, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing, and unsafe workplace settings", with absolutely no mention and nothing to do with Israel.

More barking and growling
Isn't wikpedia just great?

In March 2006, John Mearsheimer, Wendell Harrison Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, and Stephen Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and author of Taming American Power: The Global Response to US Primacy, co-authored a controversial working paper entitled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," about which an extensive debate was subsequently published in The London Review of Books. In their working paper, Professors Mearsheimer and Walt criticize what they describe as "the Israel Lobby" for influencing U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East in a direction away from U.S. interests and toward Israel's interests.

In an interview conducted on March 20, 2006, cited in The Harvard Crimson, Dershowitz "vehemently disputed the article’s assertions, repeatedly calling it 'one-sided' and its authors 'liars' and 'bigots.'

Liars and bigots, oh my!

Which reminds me, have you bought the The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Paperback) by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt?

In July 2006, Dershowitz wrote a series of articles defending the conduct of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict against the international outcry regarding escalating Lebanese civilian deaths and the destruction of Lebanese civilian infrastructure resulting from Israel's stated attempt to weaken or to destroy Hezbollah which wields considerable political power and influence in Lebanon. After the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour indicated that Israeli officials might be investigated and indicted for possible war crimes, Dershowitz labeled Arbour's statement "bizarre" in an editorial,

Right, bombing civilians from the air is all right, criticizing that is bizarre.

In his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, argues that "Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land."[37] Carter states in Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid that Israel's current policies in the Palestinian territories constitute "a system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights.

In an op-ed, some newspaper articles, media appearances, and blog posts at The Huffington Post, Dershowitz has taken issue with President Carter's points of view and has challenged him to debate the matters in public at Brandeis University. Carter has publicly declined to visit Brandeis to discuss the book due to the request that he debate Dershowitz as a condition of the visit:

"I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz," Carter said in Friday's [December 15, 2006] Boston Globe. "There is no need . . . to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."
The school's debate request, Carter said, is proof that many in the United States are unwilling to hear an alternative view on the nation's most taboo foreign policy issue, Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. . . . "There is no debate in America about anything that would be critical of Israel," he said.

“There are two different Jimmy Carters,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “You heard the Brandeis Jimmy Carter today, and he was terrific. I support almost everything he said. But if you listen to the Al Jazeera Jimmy Carter, you’ll hear a very different perspective.”

Just LOL, "Al Jazeera Jimmy Carter".

Which reminds me, have you read Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (Paperback) by Jimmy Carter?

And finally,

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dershowitz published an essay in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled "Want to Torture? Get a Warrant," in which he advocates the issuance of warrants permitting the torture of terrorism suspects if there were an "absolute need to obtain immediate information in order to save lives coupled with probable cause that the suspect had such information and is unwilling to reveal it."

This just so happens to be the Israeli policy.


We are becoming more and more like Israel every day.

Good job, alan (woof! woof!).

No comments: