Interview: Alan Dershowitz

'Judge Goldstone is either fool or knave'

By Paul Berger, New York, February 4, 2010
On the offensive: Dershowitz

On the offensive: Dershowitz

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has accused Richard Goldstone, the author of the UN investigation into Operation Cast Lead, of “using his Jewishness to defame Israel”.

Said Mr Dershowitz: “If he weren’t Jewish and well-known as a Jew, his report would be ignored. And yet in every interview he emphasises, ‘I am a Jew, I am a Zionist, I am connected to the Hebrew University.’”

Mr Dershowitz, who submitted his own 50-page response to the Goldstone Report to the UN last week, added: “If the Tsar had called a Jewish man in and said, ‘Look, we are writing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and we need you to edit it and make it a little more credible and acceptable. Will you please sign your name to it’, no respectable Jew would do that. They know the Jewishness would be used in that respect.

“He used his Jewishness as a sword against the Jewish people and against the state of Israel. That’s a very serious charge but one that I think I have proved definitively in my report.”

Mr Dershowitz said that when he heard Mr Goldstone — a former Harvard colleague — had accepted the UN assignment, he urged him to examine how Israel ought to have responded to rockets from Gaza. When he saw the report, he said he was “shocked beyond belief”.

He said: “I never had high hopes, but I never in my worst nightmares believed Richard Goldstone would attach his name to so false, malicious and defamatory a report. He can’t look himself in the mirror and say, ‘I believe that the Israeli government used rocket attacks as a pretext to go and kill civilians.’

“The question is: is he a fool or is he a knave? There is no third alternative.”

Mr Dershowitz says his main critique of the Goldstone Report is its methodology. In his report to the UN, he writes that the report is “poorly written” and “laden with internal inconsistencies, shoddy citations of authority, and overall poor craftsmanship”.

Mr Dershowitz said that he and Mr Goldstone were once friends. They ate lunch together at work and Mr Dershowitz invited Mr Goldstone for dinner at his home.

Last week, the former chief justice of South Africa, Arthur Chaskalson, co-authored a defence of Judge Goldstone’s legal record, saying he was concerned about personal attacks on Judge Goldstone’s integrity.

“Some who have criticised him say that as a Jew he ought not to have accepted a mandate to enquire into the events in Gaza,” he wrote. “We do not agree. Religion and ethnicity are irrelevant to the capacity for judging with integrity.”

Mr Goldstone declined to comment.

Last updated: 6:32pm, February 4 2010