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Dershowitz’s indifference to the blatantly obvious is something of a conundrum. He is far too astute not to see that Obama has no love for the tiny country he has spent much of his career defending. Dershowitz has long been among the most eloquent and erudite supporters of the Jewish state. His opposition to the “settlements” may or may not be misguided but, in book after book, he has consolidated the “case for Israel” about as well as anyone can be expected to. At the same time, despite his transient critique of Obama’s position on the Middle East, he remains staunchly in the president’s camp, a strong liberal and a voting Democrat. I frankly cannot see how one can have it both ways, since Barack Obama is manifestly no friend of Israel and liberal Democrats are far less likely to promote Israel’s welfare than are conservative Republicans. Something does not compute
What is Dershowitz’s problem? Is it the liberal cocktail circuit’s come-hither? Is it the Lucullan mindscape of Harvard University—where, interestingly enough, Islamic facilitators and academic revelers like Roy Mottahedeh (Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program) and Noah Feldman (Bemis Professor of International Law) prance about, without Dershowitz’s pushback? Is it the inability to reverse a lifelong commitment to an ideological cause? Is it Obama’s liberal-left agenda that attracts socialists and socialites alike, irrespective of massive failure? (American Jews are especially prone to this aberration.)
Maybe Dershowitz sees himself as a gentle mentor to the president, coddling him toward a more profound grasp of Middle East complexities? Are we dealing with what Czeslaw Milosz in The Captive Mind, borrowing from the Arabic, called “ketman,” the false stance adopted by a person “in order to find himself at one with others, in order not to be alone”? Or adherence to a social convention that issues in the evasion of unpalatable truths which are not in themselves that obscure, in other words, the usual politically correct response to the problems of the age? Or perhaps a cognitive scotoma, a blind spot that blots out an emotionally unacceptable part of reality? “I know Obama’s views on Israel,” says Dershowitz, “I don’t agree with all of them, but he is definitely not anti-Israel.”
Earth to Dershowitz: It’s time to recalibrate your coordinates. Obama is never where one thinks he is—except far to the left of one’s rehabilitating gaze. Why would any intelligent person side with an administration that is visibly committed, to quote the excellent Pamela Geller, “to weakening American power and collaborating with the ascension of the Muslim world,” the latter to Israel’s undeniable detriment? Or perhaps the issue should be framed differently. As star journalist and political author Mark Steyn suggests, “I suppose it’s conceivable that there are a few remaining suckers out there who still believe Barack Obama is the great post-partisan, fiscally responsible, pragmatic centrist he played so beguilingly just a year ago.”
Barack Obama is the litmus test for all conscientious citizens—blue state or red state, so to speak. For devoted liberals with brains, the question remains: Will they eventually contrive to disenchant themselves and emerge from the political hallucination to which they have so readily succumbed? And for advocates of the Jewish state, Obama should provoke a crisis of conviction, one which should not be allowed to go to waste.
Whatever the reason for Dershowitz’s sinuous temporizing and defection from the obvious, it would be a day of jubilation were the prodigal son to return home, that is, to a clear-sighted apprehension of the real relation between Washington and Jerusalem as it is currently being played out. For he has spent far too long sojourning in alien lands where deceit and stupefaction reign. There might be something, after all, to the apothegm from Ecclesiastes 10:2: “A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.”
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