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Review: The Case Against Israel’s Enemies

Dershowitz goes into battle for Zion

By Alan Dershowitz; Wiley, £13.99

    Dershowitz: law-man as avenging knight
    Dershowitz: law-man as avenging knight

    Reading Dershowitz (pictured below), it is easy to summon to mind the hero-knights of legend defending the drawbridge against an attacking mob of sword-waving and axe wielding assailants. Clashing his steel against theirs, he lunges here with a flash of forensics, there with a slash of semantics until, one by one, he reduces all about him to a bloodied pile.

    And what victims lie here. Former President Jimmy Carter is top of the heap, beneath him a scattering of British and other academics, trades union members, journalists, a few Jews, even a couple of Popes, not to mention countless Arab leaders. Dershowitz has gone out to war against those whom he has no hesitation in terming Israel's enemies, and he gives no quarter.

    Carter, whose recent book attacking Israel as a practitioner of "apartheid" policies surprised even some of his admirers (among whom Dershowitz once was numbered), is enemy number one. The reason Dershowitz considers him so dangerous to Israel is that, "because of his high standing as a former President, he has mainstreamed the sort of political delegitimisation and vilification of Israel", which, if left unrebutted, "it is only a matter of time before some younger mainstream American politicians pick up and campaign against US support of Israel".

    With all the skill and attention to detail of the leading Harvard law professor and appellate lawyer that he is, Dershowitz assembles an appendix of misstatements of fact in Carter's book to disprove the former President's insistence that everything he has written about Israel is accurate. He also searches for the reasons why Carter has, as he puts it, descended "into the gutter of bigotry". These range from the allegation that Carter "has been bought off by millions of dollars from Arab governments" to Carter's ardent evangelical conviction that "Israel is deserving of punishment because Israeli Jews are not all strictly religious."

    Having himself been engaged (notably with Anthony Julius) in fighting attempts by, as he terms them, "third-rate" British academics to boycott Israeli academics, Dershowitz warns: "If there is ever a firm decision by a British union to boycott Israeli universities or academics, the result will be a massive refusal by US academics to have anything to do with those engaging in the boycott. British universities are already in a steep decline... largely because of the politicisation of Britain's powerful academic unions. A boycott... will only increase the deterioration."

    Some of Dershowitz's strongest words are directed at the Vatican's failure to condemn terrorist attacks against Jewish civilians in Israel. He boldly suggests the Vatican's reluctance "is for the same reason that the Vatican took too long and did too little in protesting against the mass extermination of Jews by Nazi Germany... The truth is that the Vatican has always had something of a Jewish problem." Phew!

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