The Case Against Israel's Enemies
Answering Israel's critics
By Steven Martinovich
Israel's recent offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip once again thrust it on front pages around the world and predictably divided the world into two groups: those who supported Israel and those who viewed it as yet another deplorable action by the Jewish state. While many nations have their detractors, Israel's are a group whose opinions range from measured criticism to the vitriolic who wish its end. Over the past few decades it's been hard not to notice that the numbers who fall into the later camp seem to have increased markedly – particularly among those on the far left and right wings – while the number of moderates are shrinking.
Famed attorney and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz has trained his sights on Israel's most vociferous enemies with The Case Against Israel's Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace, an attempt to counter the arguments of everyone from Jimmy Carter to Mahmoud Aminejad. It must be noted Dershowitz isn't a blindly partisan supporter of Israel and Zionism. He supports Palestinian statehood and the remove of most settlements in the disputed territories. He also argues that Israel must put an end to what he refers to as the occupation of those same lands.
Dershowitz opens his effort with an attack on his former friend Jimmy Carter. He argues that Carter proves aid to Israel's enemies by comparing it to an apartheid state, a laughable claim given the full rights that Arabs enjoy unlike Jews in most other Arab nations. He also charges that Carter advised Yasser Arafat to walk away from beneficial peace settlements and refuses to debate his critics. An appendix is devoted to refuting dozens of claims made by Carter including his whitewashing of Arafat and Hamas.
Proving that that everything old is new again, Dershowitz takes aim at centuries old charges being propagated by John Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt that allege there is a conspiracy and network of American Jews who are promoting Israel's interests at the expense of the United States. The two academics echo classic arguments made throughout the ages that Jews are inherently disloyal to the country they live in. Ironically, Walt holds a chair at Harvard that is funded by a pro-Israel family.
The political right also takes its share of attacks but given its fervent support of Israel for both political and religious reasons, it's surprising to hear Dershowitz argue that the far right may be more influential than its leftist counterpart. Though Pat Buchanan, Taki Theodoracoplus, Robert Novak, Joseph Sobran and James Baker, among others, have made statements varying in their severity and offensiveness, their views on Israel are well-known but lightly regarded. It's difficult to understand exactly who these writers and politicians actually influence except the paleoconservative wing of the American conservative movement.
"Israel is the only country in the world that is accused by its enemies of practicing apartheid without racism; of perpetrating a Holocaust without gas chambers; of engaging in genocide without mass murder; of committing war crimes without targeting civilians; and of being the worst human rights violator in the world, while having one of the most responsible legal systems in the world. This is accusation by metaphor, prosecution by propaganda, trial by bigotry, guilt by hyperbole, and sentence by sloganeering," writes Dershowitz with a passion one could imagine during closing arguments.
The Case Against Israel's Enemies also takes time to address several related issues including the boycotting of Israeli academics and divestment – both growing movements despite the huge contributions made by the tiny state – and how the ranks of suicide bombers used against Israel have grown to include the ranks of women and children. In one of the most compelling sections of his book, Dershowitz argues this fact demands new ways of looking at warfare, with the line between civilian and soldier being blurred far more than most people far away from the rockets and bombs might realize.
Ultimately, given that emotion long ago replaced rationality when it comes to Israel, The Case Against Israel's Enemies will likely end up preaching to the choir. That doesn't diminish what Dershowitz has done here, however, because the charges that people like Carter, Mearsheimer, Walt and even outright lunatics like Aminejad make need to be forcefully addressed. Past history of ignoring that sort of thing was the reason for Israel's founding in the first place. Fortunately for Israel one of her occasional critics also happens to be one of her most capable defenders.
Steven Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
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