An hour a week. That’s all the time you have to spend to help Israel. During that hour, write a letter to the editor or an op-ed piece for a newspaper, call in to a talk-show or read a book about Israel in addition to contributing financially to the country. And you don’t have to give up exercise.
That was the advice Harvard law Prof. Alan Dershowitz gave the nearly 300 people who attended the annual dinner of the Physicians and Dentists Division of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe on Tuesday night.
Author and law Prof. Alan Dershowitz was the keynote speaker at the annual dinner Tuesday night of the Physicians and Dentists Division of the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey. Photo by Daniel Santacruz
Before his presentation, Dershowitz spoke with this newspaper about his forthcoming book, "The Case Against President Carter and Other Israel’s enemies," due out in September.
The author described two of his previous books, "The Case for Israel" and "The Case for Peace," as "positive," calling his new book "negative."
According to Dershowitz, Israel’s enemies fall into two categories: those who would attack it militarily, like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; and those who would attack it morally, economically, and politically, like Jimmy Carter and professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, American academics of what he called the "hard left." He devotes the first two chapters of his book to the work of these three men.
"It is necessary for me to expose the fallacies of Carter’s attack against Israel. It hurts me to go negative on Carter, but it has to be done," he said.
In April Carter laid a wreath at the tomb of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah and met with Hamas leaders.
Also targeted in the book are professors Norman Finkelstein, with whom Dershowitz has had heated exchanges both in print and on talk shows, and Noam Chomsky, whom he called the "dean" of Israel’s enemies and who has sided with Holocaust deniers. Finkelstein, who, Dershowitz said, has collaborated with Hezbollah, was denied entrance to Israel upon his arrival there last week, a decision the speaker criticized.
"They should have let him [in] unless there was security threat, but there wasn’t one I was aware of," he said. "They should have let him talk because the more he talks, the more foolish he sounds."
Still, the enemies of Israel aren’t limited to academia or the far left, he emphasized.
"People shouldn’t forget that the hatred for Israel really starts on the right, and from the beginning it was conservatives that opposed Israel and today still there are people like [former presidential candidate and columnist] Pat Buchanan and [journalist] Robert Novak," he said. "It’s the extremists on both sides."
An advocate of a Palestinian state, Dershowitz, who said he has been to Israel "40 to 50 times," believes that goal is now more difficult to achieve than before, because of Hamas.
Speaking to the full gathering, Dershowitz praised the accomplishments and contributions of Israel in the fields of science, medicine, and technology during its 60 years of existence, pointing out that despite this, no other country is more vilified at the United Nations.
"If a space alien landed at the United Nations and had to report back to his or her leader, he would say that this is a wonderful world [in which] Libya serves on the [U.N] Security Council, Syria on the [U.N.] Human Rights Commission, [and] this little empire, evil Israel, is causing all the problems," he said. "What a distorted picture is presented."
That distorted picture, he added, is taught to students at schools like Columbia University, which has a student body and faculty that is one-third Jewish. Dershowitz said that several Columbia professors traveled to Iran recently to ask forgiveness from Ahmadinejad because the school’s president, Lee Bollinger, had been confrontational when the Iranian leader visited the school last September.
Dershowitz criticized Carter for undermining American policy in Iran, Iraq, and Cuba, and for saying earlier this week that Israel has 150 nuclear weapons.
"Where did he learn that?" asked the speaker. "When he was president?"
Following the presentation, Dr. Zvi Marans, the federation’s campaign co-chair, said the talk gave "everybody the feeling that being Jewish is something to be proud of, to brag about." He noted that Dershowitz was invited because of "the excitement he would generate."