NEW YORK – Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, a supporter of Barack Obama’s election in 2012, is offering stinging criticism of the president’s Middle East policy, suggesting it led to the ISIS crisis and broad instability in the region.
"It was big mistake to jump on the Arab Spring enthusiastically, without realizing it was soon going to turn into an 'Arab Winter,'" Dershowitz told WND.
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Dershowitz is the author of a newly issued e-book, "Terror Tunnels: The Case for Israel's Just War Against Hamas."
He maintained Obama made a similar mistake by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after a supposedly "democratic revolution" during the "Arab Spring" toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
"The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and now ISIS in Iraq and Syria, they are all basically the same," Dershowitz argued.
"Some may be Sunni, some Shiite, but in the end what they all want is an Islamic caliphate. They want Shariah law to apply, they want to relegate women to a tertiary role, they want to execute gays, they want to murder Christians and they want to kill Jews."
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And all Islamic jihadist groups share a hatred for Israel, he argued.
"Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. If Israel were just another country – a Swiss country, or a Scandinavian country – and was doing exactly the same thing that is being done in regard to the Palestinians, no one would care. It's not the Palestinians that people care about. It's the fact that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people."
Dershowitz's criticism of Obama is especially biting today in view of the ringing endorsement for his re-election he penned in a Jerusalem Post editorial published in 2012.
Saudi Arabia a 'family owned' gas station
Dershowitz stressed Israel is the only reliable ally the U.S. has in the Middle East that "will forever be supportive" and can be relied upon "to provide it intelligence and technical support."
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"There is no other country in the Middle East on which the United States can rely, except Israel," he said. "Turkey is our friend today, but I predict it will be our enemy tomorrow. Saudi Arabia is our friend today, but who knows what it is going to look like a year from now? It's basically nothing more than a family owned gas station. Qatar has been switching sides every day practically. Jordan as long as the Hessonite kingdom lasts is our friend, but who knows how long that is going to last?"
Dershowitz pointed out that every Israeli government since the founding of the country in 1948 has supported the U.S., and he predicted future Israeli governments would be no different.
ISIS, an early-stage Hamas
Dershowitz noted similarities between ISIS and Hamas, arguing they are merely at different stages of development.
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"In the beginning, Palestinian terrorists were using terror the way ISIS is using it," he said. "The Palestinians hijacked planes, they killed people, they murdered American diplomats, murdered American citizens in order to get attention and to recruit. They have stopped doing that."
He argued Hamas has grown more sophisticated, employing techniques to manipulate the media for political gain.
"Now Hamas plans to engage in warfare that puts Israel in the dock of the International Criminal Court and other international organizations," he said. "ISIS is still in its first phase of trying to get recruits and attract attention. ISIS is not trying to hide its brutality, while Hamas is trying to hide its brutality."
He noted Hamas had killed Palestinians for allegedly collaborating with Israel and "does not hesitate to kill something like 162 children who were used as child labor building the terror tunnels."
"Hamas kills Israelis by aiming its rockets landing in Gaza. And Hamas tries to hide that and deny it. Hamas tries to put all the blame for the deaths on Israel," he said.
He concluded Hamas and ISIS are "two terrorist groups that are at different stages of their development, but have the same goal – establishing an Islamic caliphate, taking over the whole world, imposing Shariah law on everybody, killing infidels."
Dershowitz noted "infidels are defined as not just non-Muslims, but if you are not the right kind of Muslim – or in Gaza, if you are not the right type of Palestinian – the end result is the same: you get killed."
WND asked Dershowitz if Israel's experience in Operation Protective Edge – the military response launched in July to Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli citizens – was evidence ground troops would be needed to degrade and destroy ISIS.
"It all depends on what strategies ISIS uses," he answered.
"Israel initially went into Gaza with only air strikes, but then when Hamas used the tunnels, Israel had no choice. You couldn't destroy the tunnels from the air. First of all, the entrances to the tunnels were in homes and mosques and hospitals. Second, you just can't destroy the tunnels from the air; you have to be there to go into the tunnels and blow them up. And now we hear that Hamas is going to rebuild its tunnels."
He argued ISIS is likely to change its tactic in response to the Obama administration air war.
"ISIS is going to embed their fighters among hostages and among civilians. The United States is going to find, as Israel found, that you cannot effectively destroy a terrorist group without killing civilians if the terrorists hide among civilians," he said.
"It's at that point that the United States may have to consider introducing ground troops. It all depends on what tactics ISIS uses. If ISIS emulates Hamas, there will be ground troops. If ISIS keeps their fighters in open areas, then I think air attacks will be sufficient."
Israel justified attacking Hamas
He argues in "Terror Tunnels" Israel's Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza was a just war in a just manner.
"Anybody who thinks that Israel did the wrong thing, ask yourself the question, 'Would you allow tunnels to be dug under your house with death squads that could come out at any time of night or day to kill your children?' That's the issue Israel was facing," Dershowitz argued.
He was one of the first non-Israeli citizens the government of Israel allowed to tour the Hamas terror tunnels before the start of Operation Protective Edge.
"Hamas diverted millions of dollars from building hospitals and schools in Gaza to constructing a network of terror tunnels that are nothing short of a miracle of engineering," he explained.
"The tunnels are about six feet high and about, maybe, four feet wide – just enough for a person to go through single-file. But they are very secure. They are made out of concrete. They are not just dirt tunnels. And they have a track with a little train that can immediately take hostages. In fact, Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a tunnel attack, taking him away on one of these tunnel trains quickly back into Gaza where he could be kept as a hostage for many years."
He argued the terror tunnels are a clear-and-present danger to Israel national security.
"Israel has a much stronger argument for going after Hamas than the United States does for going after ISIS," he maintained.
"After all, the tunnels are being built under Israel's border, and the death squads are coming out in Israel, potentially killing hundreds or thousands of children. The rockets are coming into Israeli cities and towns."
By comparison, the ISIS threat to U.S. national security is more remote, Dershowitz argued.
"By comparison, ISIS is pretty far away from the United States," he observed.
He noted there's a possibility ISIS will send terrorists to the U.S. with American or European passports, "but that is speculative right now."
"So, if the United States has the right to target ISIS leaders for assassination, as Obama says we do, and the right to cross over into Iraq and Syria, again as Obama says we do, and ISIS has no right to have sanctuary anywhere in the world, then clearly Israel has the same right when it comes to protecting Israel against Hamas."
He noted that prior to World War II, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain thought a political solution might contain Hitler. But Winston Churchill proved to be right, objecting that nothing but a military solution would hold Nazism in check.
"There had to be a military solution to Nazism and to fascism," he said. "Now there has to be a military solution to ISIS and Hamas. ISIS and Hamas cannot be allowed to impose their terrorism on democratic countries."
He argued that Hamas today is as anti-democratic as the fascists were in the 1930s and 40s in Europe.
"If Hamas were to have an election today in Palestine, the polls indicate would get more than 60 percent of the vote while the Palestinian Authority would get only 32 percent of the vote. That would not be a gain for democracy. You'd have democracy for one day. The next day, Hamas as the winner would deny all other Palestinian groups their basic rights."
He compared the scenario to Nazi Germany in 1930s.
"The German people had democracy until the Nazi Party won an election by approximately 32 percent of the vote. Then in 1933, Hitler became chancellor and the Nazi Party took over the government. That was the end of democracy in Germany until 1945."
Hard left continues to attack Israel
Dershowitz railed against groups that have termed Israel the aggressor in Operation Protective Edge. He singled out the National Lawyers Guild, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Amnesty International as groups that have accused Israel of committing war crimes.
"These groups apply an obvious double standard not only between the United States and Israel but between Israel and every other country in the world," he said. "And my book is designed to expose that double standard and to make a strong case for why Israel has engaged in a just war in a just way."
He continued: "We have come to accept that organizations like the United Nations are very one-sided in favor of the Palestinians, but now to have American organizations like the National Lawyers Guild or the Center for Constitutional Rights that pretend to support human rights and civil liberties and then they turn out to be nothing more than hard-left organizations, many of them with a kind of Stalinist orientation that hates America, hates Israel and hates democracies to the point where these groups and others have basically become the arm of Hamas in America."
He said support of these groups in the U.S. should be suspect.
"It's a crime to support a terrorist organization in the United States, and some of these groups come awfully close to providing material support for terrorist organizations," he said.
"And they are ultimately un-American in their attitude and certainly anti-Semitic when it comes to supporting Hamas. You cannot support Hamas without being ant-Semitic, because the Hamas charter calls for the killing of every Jew hiding under every rock and behind every tree. How can you support an organization like that without being anti-Semitic? It would be like supporting the Nazi Party in the 1930s."