Alan Dershowitz vs. David Solway on Obama and Israel


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Below is an exchange that Frontpage hosted between David Solway and Alan Dershowitz on the subject of Obama and Israel:

Et Tu, Dershowitz?
By David Solway

A year and a half ago, I posted an article on this site expressing my skepticism of Alan Dershowitz’s insights into American politics and questioning his bias in favor of President Obama and the Democratic party. I wrote there: “when it comes to the international figure who may well be the most serious threat to Israel’s well-being and perhaps even to its survival—by whom I mean not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but Barack Obama—Dershowitz’s pen tilts to the “sinister” side of the page as he no doubt meditates his still unwritten The Case for Obama.” I pointed out that Dershowitz does not so much as notice what National Post columnist George Jonas called “the malodorous miasma of gall, social engineering zeal, anti-Semitism and Arabist agenda that emanates from the Obama administration.” Mark Steyn probably said it best: “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.”

True to form, Dershowitz has just published a column in The Jerusalem Post in which he declares his support for Obama as the president who is “best for America and for the world,” and, of course, for Israel. As a trained and practiced lawyer, he proceeds to marshal the evidence for his case. But as critical readers, we must see that the evidence is, to put it mildly, unpersuasive, if not disturbingly misleading.

Dershowitz argues that Obama is “a pragmatic, centrist liberal who has managed—with some necessary compromises—to bring us the first important healthcare legislation in recent history, appointed excellent justices to the Supreme Court, supported women’s rights, eliminated the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, maintained the wall of separation between church and state [and] kept up an effective war against terrorism.”

Well, let’s see. A “pragmatic, centrist liberal” is, by all reasonable counts, precisely what Obama is not. His record and his antecedents show beyond the slightest doubt that he is a far-left ideologue who wishes to “fundamentally transform” America into a redistributionist welfare state on the failing European model. The “excellent judges” he has appointed to the Supreme Court include Sonia Sotomayer (of “wise Latina” fame) and Elena Kagan, who did not recuse herself when voting for the Affordable Care Act, though she had “participated as ‘counselor or advisor’ of the law when she was solicitor general, and…is clearly not impartial about the fate of ObamaCare.” Obama’s support of women’s rights is arguable and many disapprove of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, but we can leave these issues to debate and opinion. As for the separation of Church and State, the Catholic Church would surely not agree following the contraception flap. His “effective war against terrorism” consists of scrubbing terms like “Islam” and “jihad” from U.S. security documents and inviting the Muslim Brotherhood, in the person of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, to the White House. (The hunting down of Osama bin Laden was already in progress during the tenure of the previous administration.)

“President Obama has kept his promises,” Dershowitz avers. But Obama’s broken promises are legion, whether it is his promise to close Guantanamo, to reverse President Bush’s anti-terrorist policies, to establish “an unprecedented level of openness in Government,” to constrain the lobbying industry, to create five million more energy jobs and keep unemployment under 8 percent, to bring down health care premiums, to halve the deficit by the end of his first term (the 2013 budget envisions a deficit of more than $1 trillion)—the list is nigh endless.

Dershowitz is proud of his president for having visited the embattled Israeli town of Sderot during his candidacy run—when he needed to ensure the support of American Jews for his White House bid. But since being sworn into office, Obama has not visited Israel once, though he has graced Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia with his presence. He has callously snubbed Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu while befriending Turkey’s Islamist despot Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “And when the IDF finally had to respond to the rocket terror with Operation Cast Lead,” Dershowitz preens, “President Obama supported Israel’s actions and his administration condemned the Goldstone Report.” But as Roger Simon points out, such criticism “was tepid at best. Indeed, the administration ended up criticizing that pernicious and dishonest report on the Gaza conflict less stringently than Judge Goldstone himself, who finally renounced it after being confronted with obvious facts he chose to ignore.”

As Dershowitz recognizes, the defense partnership between the U.S. and Israel has gained strength. Nevertheless, what Dershowitz refuses to mention is that Obama has worked assiduously against Israeli interests in the faux negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, insisting on the indefensible 1967 borders as an initial bargaining position, requiring few if any concessions of the Palestinians while demanding that Israel terminate its housing projects, even in East Jerusalem, regarding the unelected and corrupt Mahmoud Abbas as a partner for peace, and pledging $400 million in aid to the Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza.

Dershowitz tells us the obvious, that “the greatest threat Israel faces today is from Iran,” and praises Obama for announcing “that his policy is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it takes military action to do so. In the meantime, he has ratcheted up sanctions and diplomatic pressure while explicitly keeping the military option on the table.” In fact, despite all the media hype, Obama has been notoriously reluctant to impose sanctions with teeth and his assurances of military support are highly suspect. Indeed, Obama (and the State Department) have appeared to do everything in their power to dissuade Israel from responding to the Iranian threat of extermination, from leaking information about Israel’s military plans to warning against “loose talk of war” with Iran and calling on Israel to allow time for (clearly fruitless) sanctions to take effect.

“I am confident,” Dershowitz concludes, “that President Obama will keep his promise ‘always [to] have Israel’s back’ in the face of the continuing threats posed by Israel’s enemies.” With the exception of the predictable Left, very few Israelis share his confidence. And with the exception of America’s liberal Jewish constituency, perhaps a majority of Americans do not either. My own conclusion is that the lawyer who naively takes presidential rhetoric for accomplished truth, and who does not hesitate to inform us that he was an invitee to the Oval Office “to discuss Iran strategy,” is not to be trusted.

Dershowitz responds: In a destructive effort to turn support for Israel from a bipartisan issue into a wedge issue between Republicans and Democrats, several right wing Republicans have criticized Jewish liberals, including me, for supporting President Obama.  In doing so, they risk turning the 2012 election into a referendum over Israel, in which they claim their vote for the Republican nominee is a vote for such support and a vote for the Democrat is a vote against such support. They never pause to consider the implications of such a “referendum.”  What if the Democrats win?  What if Obama, who is leading in all the critical polls, is reelected?  Does that mean that Israel has lost the referendum?  Does that mean that the long bipartisan history of support for Israel has ended?

It is important that Republicans support Israel and that Democrats support Israel. It is important for both candidates to campaign for the votes of Jewish supporters of Israel and it is critically important that the bipartisan support for Israel be maintained.  That is why both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak went out of their way this week to praise the Obama Administration’s support for Israel’s security, following their meetings with both Mitt Romney and Leon Panetta.

In some Western European countries, national elections are indeed referenda over support for Israel, with conservative parties tending to be far more supportive of Israel than left wing parties. That has never been the case in the United States.  Israel’s strongest supporters have always included liberal Democrats, such as Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Mario Cuomo, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid—with some exceptions, such as Jimmy Carter.  They have also included conservative Republicans—also with some exceptions such as Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul.

Over the years, I have agreed with some of the policies of Republican presidents and some of the policies of Democratic presidents.  I have also disagreed with the policies of presidents from both parties.  Since President Obama’s election in 2008, I have disagreed with some of his actions and policies with regard to Israel, while agreeing with many others.  Since I myself have been a strong opponent of Israeli settlement policies since the early 1970s, it should come as no surprise that I agree with both Republican and Democratic presidents who have been critical of these policies.  I have also been critical of both former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama when they have not been tough enough on Iran.  And I have criticized every American president since 1948 who has refused to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

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  • Anamah

    Israel is everything from the Jordan River to the Mediterraneam Sea. The so called Palestinians must present their claims to Jordan.

  • Rolando Robles

    Israel must be purged from being an incubus of the U.S. to cease its control of Congress and to stop it from bing a subversion of the American democracy through its economic power, symbolized by the AIPAC!

    • bkopicz

      Dont forget Area 51

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Thanks to OPEC, the entire world is raped for overpriced oil.

      P.S. "Rolando" socialist scumbags like yourself will always lose. It's the American Way.

  • Bud MacFarlane

    Tell Alan, there is a little Bud MacFarlane in all of us.

  • Schlomotion

    Mr. Dershowitz strains credibility on many occasions, but by comparison, Mr. Solway is just plain loony. He argues for a more "realist" position than Mr. Deshowitz's. Mr. Dershowitz's position is that pro-Israel fanatics should not make this election a partisan referendum on Israel. He takes the long and broad view. Mr. Solway's "realistic" position is that he should make it a moral issue and resort to boilerplate demagoguery with Israelis as the most moral people on Earth and anyone who disagrees with them immoral. Mr. Solway, Canadian, faults the American President for visiting this country and not that country, and for not making more public appearances for Hasbara's sake when he has the Free World to run. If the objective was to make Mr. Dershowitz look like a political mastermind, then bravo.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Obama is the friend of every Islamofascist regime in the world.

      Even the left hates Obama.

  • rebel

    Dershowitz is a disappointment. I have thought that he has seen daylight. Unfortunatelly, his religion is still liberalism. Of course he is afraid of "making Israel a wedge issue" as his many leftist Jews friends. Democrats are maybe supporting Israel but they supporting Obama more and these two things could hardly be comperable . Obama is to the detriment to both of the USA and Israel. His reelection would be a catastrophic event in our time, because after the election he does not to have even pretend to be friendly to America or Israel.

  • weroinnm

    Godfather of The Islamic Revolution! http://weroinnm.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/godfathe
    “Food For Thought”
    Semper Fi!

  • Chaim from The Bronx

    Dupes abound among the Jewish voting public, yes, but Dershowitz isn't one of them. He's too smart to believe what he says about Obama's stance toward Israel. I don't think he's simply blinded by leftist ideology either.

    It boils down to this: he detests traditional Jewish religion and beliefs, and all Jews who hold them dear, and he knows full well that they won't surrender Jerusalem or the ancient Jewish homelands in Judea and Samaria to genocidal maniacs, because doing so would be the undoing of Israel.

    Obama knows this too, and that's why he's working to force Israel to do exactly that. Dershowitz, for his part, is a secular zealot who, rather than see Jewish tradition thrive, would sooner see Israel fall altogether.

    The two of them are like peas in a pod.

    • Bert

      I agree and feel that Dershowitz receives altogether too much attention.
      We should be listening to far better people than Dershowitz.

      • SCREW SOCIALISM

        There are plenty of better people.

        Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Gingrich, Santorum.

        Ignore any "socialist" "progressive" "islamist".

  • kasandra

    Prof. Dershowitz's view is the same as that expressed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz after Obama, while Prime Minister Netanyahu was on his way to the U.S., announced that as an initial position Israel should agree to return to the 1949 Armistice Lines (i.e., the "'67 borders"). At that time she warned that Jews should not use Obama's Middle East Policy as an issue. The only reason relevant to both Dershowitz and Wassermanseems to be that recognizing this issue would decrease Jewish support for Obama. Is it even arguable that Obama's policies have been good for Israel? I won't go into chapter and verse but any fair view of is policies, plus his articulated policy of "putting daylight" between the U.S. in Israel, indicates that he is no friend of Israel's and, as will be the case with his Russia policy, he will be able to be even more "flexible" should he be re-elected.

  • dnha14

    Professor Dershowitz said: "Does that mean that the long bipartisan history of support for Israel has ended?"
    The professor is dreaming. It ended 4 years ago.

  • Moishe Pupick

    M., August 06, 2012 common era
    Professor Dershowitz is just another Ivy League Jewish intellectual who uses his admittedly
    outstanding lawyer's skills to try to get us American Jews to believe that 2 plus 2 equals 5. I remember watching a public debate between the late Rabbi Meier Kahane, zt'l, and Professor Dershowitz. In my opinion, the Rabbi won that debate hands down. Dershowitz lacks "street smarts."

  • geopeyton

    To paraphrase someone I'd guess Prof. Dershowitz admires, he won't see success for Israel until he learns to love Israel more than he hates conservatives. And I don't see that happening.

  • Jim

    Kahane always wins the argument. He quickly saw that the protesting the war in Viet Nam would one day be turned back and would lead to attacks on Israels. Did he get it right? You betcha.

    Unlike the rebels from Orthodox Judaism which have turned liberal he organized defense against the physical assaults that targeted Orthodox Jews. The liberals did nothing. The Liberal Jews almost seem to hate the Orthodox.

    He was hired to spy on the John Birch society. He reported back that he thought them nuts but a threat to no one.
    This at a time when the Liberals were using The John Birch Society as a Red Herring against conservitives. He gave an honest report which makes him a Saint in politics.

    Good for you Moishe.

  • mlcblog

    It continues to run true that liberalism is a mental disorder. Basic psychology, recovery classes and tenets reveal that emotion clouds reason. Further, I agree with Moishe P that Dershowitz lacks street knowledge, tends to be very Ivory Tower in his being. Mr. D desires so much to be loved by his leftist friends and looked up to as a loyal leader and wise man. It is sad when one sees through it. Desperation!! (I know because I am painfully coming out of my leftist, idealizing-man cocoon.)

    • Lisa_H

      Mr. Dershowitz lives in an alternate universe. Mr. Solway has a clear argument which is SADLY answered by platitudes and generalities.
      And mlcblog: congratulations! I think many of us "turned" to sanity and reason. When just about everyone around us espouses a certain [incorrect] view, it is very very hard to see the truth clearly. I maintain that we must first see the truth in ourselves and then use that as a mirror, something that you have evidently been doing (correct me if I'm wrong).

      • mlcblog

        Thank you, Lisa H. Yes. it is hard but oh, so nice to be thinking with sanity for the first time ever!! I get it straight from God himself. He says in his Word if we ask for wisdom He will give it liberally and with no condemnation.

  • amused

    And now the Repopcons throw Dershowitz under the bus , fir the sake of their partisan obssesiveness . You'll not find a more stalwart and intelligent supporter of Israel than Dershowitz A man too smart to be duped by your Obama Hate Syndrome .
    You guys are truly SCHMUCKS of the highest order .What a sorry ,sorry lot .

  • Chaim from Tokyo

    I'm no soothsayer, but years before he did it, it hit me: Yukio Mishima was going to commit seppuku.

    It was no big deal, just plain to see, clear as day. But if I said it, people gave me a look, so I let it pass.

    And then, sure enough, he did.

    What's the point?

    Obama wants to wipe out Israel. It is a big deal. And if reelected, he'll make his play to do it.

  • amused

    When it comes to "presumptions and asssumptions" you folks take the cake . What "disqualifies Dershowitz from the human race " is ONE THING , and you all know it…..the fact that he supports Obama . And to your brainwashed lot that 's enough for condemnation . The amazing thing about this rabid hatred of all things obama is that facts are tossed aside in favor of biased and bigoted opinion . And it's there in virtually every issue , sucking up eagerly ANYTHING which originates in the Breitbart polluted blogosphere , in fact several of the alleged joirnalists here jump back and forth feverishly maintainning the high pitch accusations and in many cases plain ole' LIES . And you'er proven WRONG in most cases , like the recent Aurora Massacre , you all accused that Psychiatrist of being a liberal and evrey other meme in your slanderous ideology , youv even knew her reasons for allegedly dpoing NOTHNG regarding Holmes .

  • Amused

    so , yesterday the truth came out , that Psychiatrist ,weeks prior to the shooting , broke with patient /doctor confidentiality and WARNED COLORADO CAMPUS POLICE , that, Holmes was an imminent danger to himself and others , which IS within protocol . What did the cops do ? You all prejudged and condemned her , tagged her as one of those typical educated lefties , and then after much blather and baseless accusations ,quickly mounted your crucifixes and posed as the "perpetually persecuted " . What a hatefull bunch . So the next victim of your rabid animus is ..Dershowitz . Why ? How so this fall from grace ? He stated support for Obama , therefore he falls in the category of those who voted for him[ the other half of the electorate] who in your view are TRAITORS and DESIRE ISRAEL'S Destruction .How long before you discredit Abe Lincoln and praise Booth ?

  • Amused

    What a bunch of sick , sick puppies .

  • Murray

    With economic disaster looming, the world will again need a scapegoat, and Jews will always fill that bill. Liberal Jews don their traditional cloth of acquiescence in the ridiculous hope that they will be spared if they just don't antagonize anyone. No, even keeping your heads down and avoiding becoming the "wedge issue", you won't dodge the bullet. Obama, the Islamists, and their masters will see to that. Good luck. If civilization is to survive Israel must survive.

  • Amused

    No matter what your perception of those you tag as "liberal jews " , the world will STILL make scapegoats of the Jews . And it wont have anything at all to do with liberal or conservative jews . It didn't matter during the Black Plagues , it didn't matter during the Inquisitions , nor the Pogroms in Russia or the Soviets Union and it's satellites , or during the Nazi Regime , or even now with the arabs and muslims . Jews could be left , right , conservative or liberal they will always be the world's scapegoat . And now something 'new ' but really old , jews getting scapegoated in the US for not towing the party line , not fitting the christian fundamentalist narrative of what they should be and how they should behave . Israel WILL survive , and not by Obama nor anyone elses hand , in addition you are writing off roughly HALF of Israelis themselves who are divided between those who are of the belief that peace is possible with the palestinians and really dont care if Jerusalem is the capitol , and those who believe the opposite on both issues .

  • Amused

    So be careful all you "zealots " lol…jew and gentile alike , for to continue on your present course , you will soon be condemning half of Israelis and eventually find yourselves condemning Israel itself lest it behaves in a way , not in accordance with your narrative .

  • Gamaliel

    Dershowitz said he didn't think there would be a big difference between a Republican or Democrat in the White house when it comes to Israel but if Obama is in Iran will produce nuclear bombs, if Mitt Romney is in, Iran won't. You can't get more different than that.

  • Bill Narvey

    Dershowitz warns against making Israel's security a wedge issue in the upcoming election. His fear essentially is bound up in his question of David Solway, that if it is made a wedge issue, what happens to Israel should Obama win re-election?

    Good question, but Dershowitz is blind to the very negative assumption he makes that is implied in his question. That assumption is that if Israel is made a wedge issue and Obama wins, he will turn on Israel because American Jews turned on him.

    Dershowtiz's assumption upon which his caution against making Israel a wedge issue rests and which he appears blind to, is that Obama is really anti-Israel, petty and vindictive.

    If Dershowtiz was not so blind to what in his heart of hearts he knows of Obama's character, he would not be so quick to defend and support Obama.

  • obamawarner

    David Solway is right of course. And part of Dershowitz' response is obscene.
    "You cannot question Obama regarding Israel, otherwise you turn Israel support into a partisan issue". Yeah, exactly. Wait, what? So effectively this Obama mouthpiece is saying that you cannot criticize Obama, or he will become even more anti-Israel. Well, how clear do you want to spell out the word blackmail.
    But then on the substance of the issue: Iran has never propelled quicker to nukes than under Obama's tenure. He has effectively given Iran the green light, done NOTHING at all to stop it, rather than some election year window dressing (sanctions will stop the mad mullahs? Ooh please….).
    The picture is clear: Obama hates Israel, Romney loves Israel. A vote for Obama is a vote for iranian nukes, and thus perhaps a second holocaust. See my blog (obamavsisrael.com) where I detail the threat Obama poses to the jewish state.