WASHINGTON – One of the nation’s leading liberal minds is convinced Israel will do what it has to do to survive, suggesting the country may act on its own and attack Iran, despite President Obama’s nuclear deal.
Former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowtiz told WND, “I have to tell you, if (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu learns through credible intelligence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, he will not allow that to happen.”
Dershowitz is a Democrat and generally a supporter of Obama, but the professor divided sharply with the president over his nuclear deal with Iran.
“I don’t think it’s a good deal,” said Dershowitz. “I wish they had been more transparent. I wish it had gone before Congress as a treaty. But the administration chose to make it an executive order.”
The famous constitutional scholar and defender of Israel was in Washington to accept a prestigious award, honored as a “Speaker of Truth” by the pro-Israel organization EMET last week.
And it put him in a curious position. It is unlikely that Dershowitz has ever before been on a list including such staunch conservatives as previous honorees Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; Dr. Charles Krauthammer; former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.; former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton; and former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla.
But Dershowitz couldn’t have appeared to be more delighted or honored, showing the high bipartisan regard in which EMET is held by strong supporters of Israel on both sides of the aisle. There usually has been a Democrat among the half-dozen, or so, EMET honorees every year since 2007.
Honored this year, in addition to Dershowitz were:
- Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla.: Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
- Brian Mast: U.S. Army veteran and former Israeli Defense Forces volunteer. He served under elite Joint Special Operations Command as a bomb disposal expert. Mast loss of both legs to an IED in Afghanistan in 2010.
- Frank Gaffney: Founder and president of the Center for Security Policy. Gaffney served as the assistant secretary of defense for international security policy for President Ronald Reagan.
- Raheel Raza: Muslim-Canadian award-winning author, journalist, public speaker and human rights activist.
When asked by WND if the president had a blind spot when it came to Israel’s security, Dershowitz replied, “I think it’s a mixed picture.”
“My Israeli friends who are in the security business tell me that this administration has been quite good. They supported Israel’s self-defense efforts in Gaza, they opposed the Goldstone Report (a 2009 U.N. report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza), they oppose the BDS (boycott, divestment sanctions) movement, they have provided Israel with weaponry and are now in the process of trying to finalize a military allocation.”
But, he noted, “The area I think where Israel and the United States are in most disagreement is Iran, which is, of course, a security issue. If you ask this administration, they will tell you they think they are protecting Israel’s security for the next 10 years. I don’t agree with that. Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t agree with that.”
The professor mentioned the other areas of major disagreement have been the settlements (he sides with administration in generally opposing them) and the peace process, “And I really do think that the Obama administration is wrong when it comes to criticizing Israel on the peace process. Israel has offered to make peace in 2000, 2001 and 2008. You can go back to 1937, 1947… It’s been the Palestinians who have refused to negotiate a reasonable two state solution.”
He concluded, “I am disappointed in the Obama administration’s overall approach to Israel. My disappointment is primarily a function of the Iran deal.”
Introducing him at the awards dinner last Wednesday, EMET Founder Sarah Stern lavished high praise on the guest of honor, saying, “There’s probably no human being alive today who’s done more to challenge the antisemites, the anti-Zionists and the BDSers on college campuses today and throughout the world than Alan Dershowitz.”
In his keynote speech, the professor focused primarily on the danger to Israel of the BDS movement, which has grown virulent on campuses in America and abroad.
“The goal of BDS is not to actually get universities to divest (in Israel), it is to mis-educate students and future leaders,” he began, “by lying to them, by demonizing, delegitimizing, discriminating against, and applying a double standard to the nation-state of the Jewish people.
“The goal of BDS is to destroy Israel.”
To convey the depth and breadth of misinformation about Israel on campuses, Dershowitz told the story of being recently challenged to debate the BDS movement at the Oxford Union, the oldest debate union in the world.
“Winston Churchill has debated there. I’ve been asked to debate several times at the Oxford Union, and I was always told by the honest people who run it, ‘You cannot win a debate at Oxford when you are on the side of Israel. And you certainly can’t win a debate on BDS.’ Oxford is the home of the BDS movement. It’s where it started,” the professor who retired from Harvard in 2013 explained.
Dershowitz was originally asked to debate Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement. “But he refused to debate me because, he said, I am part of the group that has to be boycotted. I’m not an Israeli, but I’m a Jew and I support Israel, so he refused to debate me. He was boycotting me.”
Barghouti also forbade a woman from debating him.
“Finally, they got a man, a very good debater, named Peter Tatchell, who is one of the leaders of the human rights movement in Great Britain, and he was a very distinguished and very difficult opponent.”
Dershowitz described how the debate turned on a key admission, when his opponent acknowledged that the BDS movement applied only to Israel.
“For many people in the audience, that was a shock. They did not know this. The young students of Oxford thought that BDS being applied fairly and across the board.”
And, once Tatchell acknowledged that, Dershowitz went out into the audience and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I issue you all a challenge. I will wait all day, but I want any of you here to name one country in the world faced with threats comparable to those faced by Israel, that has had a better record of human rights, a higher regard for the rule of law, and more concern for the lives of enemy civilians. Alright, I’m waiting.”
The silence just went on and on.
“I said I have all day,” relayed Dershowitz. “‘Shout out a country. Shout out any country.’ Of course they couldn’t, because there is no such country.”
Finally, as a joke, a student from the back yelled out, “Iceland!”
And, the professor said, “Ya got me!”
“But, in the end, we won the debate, which was shocking. People at Oxford University supported the opposition to the BDS movement.”
Dershowitz won by a vote of 137 to 101.
“I don’t tell this story to praise myself as a debater,” the legal scholar told the throng of hundreds at the EMET dinner.
“I tell this story to tell you not to give up, even in the most-extreme, hard-left environments. We have truth on our side,” he said, distinctly enunciating each word with emphasis. “It is a powerful, powerful weapon.”
“A strong Israel is required to get peace. Never apologize for your strength,” Dershowitz concluded.
Perhaps the most emotional declaration of love for the people of Israel came from 12-year U.S. Army veteran Brian Mast, who lost both his legs to a landmine as a bomb-disposal technician in Afghanistan, but still went on to volunteer in 2015 to serve alongside the Israeli Defense Forces.
Mast is running for Congress in Florida’s 18th district. The primary elections will take place on Aug. 30, 2016.
Even while standing upon prosthetic legs, Mast cut a well-chiseled figure and projected an image of great strength. Similarly, his voice carried a powerful resolve.
“The world is attempting to sell the lie that the most peaceful country in the Middle East, Israel, is responsible somehow for preventing peace. That is a complete lie,” Mast began his speech.
The soldier recounted his deep affection for Israel by describing what it was like to share the Sabbath dinner with families, every weekend.
“As I went to the homes of each of these families, I realized something very important, that each one of them, every single one of these families was waiting for a son or a daughter, or a grandson or a granddaughter, to return home from their military duty in order to begin the festivities of the dinner of Shabbat,” he recollected.
“This struck a chord in me, and I started to think about this, as, here in the United States, I had served 12 years and I was very familiar with the fact that it wasn’t the job of every son and daughter in the United States to serve. But it was the job in Israel for every son and daughter to don a uniform and serve in the defense of the state of Israel.”
“And,” he continued, “I learned from that, as I am a father of three, and as much as I hope my kids some day enter service in the military, that I know there is no easier way to break me down as a parent than to think about losing one of my children.”
“And that’s the reality for every single parent and grandparent across Israel. That at one point in the life of their children they will probably have to don a uniform and fire a weapon in defense of Israel. And it is for that reason that I know every single family across Israel truly desires nothing more than peace with every single one of their neighbors, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, whatever neighbor you want to pick throughout the Middle East.”
“They want nothing more than peace. Because they want their children to grow. And they want their children to go to school, and they want their children to start families. And they want their children to travel and they want their children to have a life. They don’t want their children to have to go fire a rifle in defense against lies that are being perpetuated.”
“And this was the lesson that I learned,” the warrior proclaimed, softly but with the utmost conviction.