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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Alan Dershowitz’

Alan Dershowitz: No “Buyer’s Remorse” For Voting For Obama

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Republicans are trying to woo away Jews who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, hoping they have experienced “buyer’s remorse.” I, for one, have experienced no such remorse. I have gotten from President Obama pretty much what I expected when I voted for him: a pragmatic, centrist liberal who has managed—with some necessary compromises—to bring us the first important healthcare legislation in recent history, appointed excellent justices to the Supreme Court, supported women’s rights, eliminated the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, maintained the wall of separation between church and state, kept up an effective war against terrorism and generally made me proud to be an American who cast my vote for him.

Even with regard to his policy toward Israel, which has generated much of the impetus for this “buyer’s remorse” campaign, President Obama has kept his promises. During the last campaign, I and others urged candidate Obama to go to Israel and visit Sderot, which was being shelled by rockets from Hamas-controlled Gaza. He then went to Sderot and while standing in front of the lethal rockets that had inflicted so much damage—physical and psychological—to so many children and adults, this is what the candidate said:

“I don’t think any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens. The first job of any nation state is to protect its citizens…If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same.”

And when the Israeli Defense Forces finally had to respond to the rocket terror with Operation Cast Lead, President Obama supported Israel’s actions and his administration condemned the Goldstone Report as deeply flawed and biased against Israel.

Now, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is visiting Israel. I’m glad he is, because support for Israel must always remain bipartisan. No presidential election should ever become a referendum on support for Israel. Certainly the upcoming election will not be, because both candidates strongly support Israel’s security. Each candidate must earn the vote of each citizen based on the totality of their records, and must not take the support of any group for granted.

The Obama Administration has worked hand in hand with Israel in developing the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow Defense capabilities. It has approved the sale of F-35 stealth fighters to the Israeli Air Force. It has conducted large, joint military exercises and has coordinated intelligence operations with Israeli secret services. That is why I was not surprised when Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that he could:

“hardly remember a better period of…American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding…than what he have right now.”

The greatest threat Israel faces today is from Iran, a nation ruled by anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying, terrorist-inciting Mullahs, who would sacrifice millions of their own citizens to destroy “the little Satan,” which is how they refer to Israel (the United States being “the big Satan.”) There are some, in both parties, who wrongly believe that a policy of “containment”—that is, allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons but containing their use by the threat of tit-for-tat reprisal—is the right strategy. President Obama has explicitly rejected this benighted approach and has instead announced that his policy is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it takes military actions to do so. In the meantime, he has ratcheted up sanctions and diplomatic pressure while explicitly keeping the military option on the table.

Several months ago, President Obama invited me to the Oval Office to discuss his Iran strategy. He looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t bluff.” His actions with regard to Osama bin Laden and the Somali pirates who endangered Americans and threatened to kill them demonstrated his willingness to use force when warranted. So does his increased use of drones to target terrorists who are beyond the reach of capture. I believe President Obama when he says that Iran will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons on his watch.

President Obama also understands that no sovereign nation can ever outsource the protection of its own citizens against a nuclear Holocaust. If Israel were to decide—as a last resort, after exhausting all diplomatic, economic, and intelligence options—that it had no choice but to take military action against Iran’s nuclear programs, I am confident that the Obama Administration would not condemn that action (as the Reagan Administration condemned Israel’s correct decision to destroy Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981!) These are President Obama’s own words on this important issue:

Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States – just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.

The issue of Israeli security must be distinguished from the issue of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank. Israel’s settlement policy is deeply controversial within Israel and among Jewish supporters of Israel in the United States. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have been critical of some Israeli decisions regarding the settlements. I have sometimes agreed and sometimes disagreed with these criticisms. Reasonable supporters of Israel will have different views on the settlements and on how best to move toward a two-state solution that assures Israel’s security.

Alan Dershowitz: National Jewish Democratic Council Doesn’t Speak for Me on Adelson

Monday, July 9th, 2012

David Harris, the President of the National Jewish Democratic Council, has asked Jewish Democrats to sign a petition demanding that Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican Party stop taking campaign contributions from Sheldon Adelson, and return those already received. They claim his money is “tainted.” This absurd allegation comes from a highly questionable, if not totally discredited, source—namely a former employee who was fired and is suing Adelson. He claims that Adelson approved of prostitution in his Macau casinos. Harris has apparently credited this claim even though no evidence has been submitted to support it and no finding has been made by any court. Has he never heard of “due process” or the “presumption of innocence?”

I know Sheldon Adelson and I have worked with him on several matters relating to Israel and the Jewish community. I have spoken on behalf of the wonderful school he has built in Las Vegas. And have had the pleasure of teaching one of the brilliant graduates of that school. Adelson was deeply involved in the creation of the Birthright Israel Program, which has had extraordinary success in exposing young Jews to Israel. It’s hard to find anyone who has done as much for the Jewish community as Sheldon Adelson. Adelson grew up in Boston in near poverty and is a shining example of the American dream. He is a self-made multibillionaire who has contributed significantly to the world of modern technology and to the economic growth of Las Vegas and other areas. His generosity has helped repair the world.

I am a Democrat and do not agree with many of Adelson’s political views, but I think it’s outrageous for the National Jewish Democratic Council to level unfounded allegations against Adelson. They do not speak for me, and for the many other Jews who admire Adelson’s contributions to the world, to America, to Israel and to the Jewish community. I don’t know who Harris purports to speak for as President of the National Jewish Democratic Council, but his partisan gamesmanship is an embarrassment to many Jewish Democrats. The attack comes with particular ill grace from a Jewish organization, considering all that Adelson has done for Jewish causes, and considering the fact that there is nothing uniquely “Jewish” about the questionable allegations against him.

Moreover, the demand that Mitt Romney return Adelson’s contributions is absurd. If all candidates had to return the contributions of every businessman against whom questionable allegations were made in a vengeful lawsuit, millions of dollars would have to be returned by hundreds of candidates all around the country. Consider just one highly publicized example: the million dollars given by comedian Bill Maher to a super PAC supporting Barack Obama. I single out Maher, whose comedy I generally like, because he said that he “decided to become the Sheldon Adelson of the Obama campaign,” and because extremists on the right have similarly demanded that the Super PAC return Maher’s contribution, claiming it is tainted by his misogynistic rants against female Republicans such as Sarah Palin, against whom he has used vile, sexist language. This is how the Christian Science Monitor delicately characterized Maher’s remarks: “[H]e has said some very bad things about Sarah Palin and other Republican women. He’s started with “bimbo” and then moved on into derogatory gynecological references that are too obscene for us to repeat.”

I’m sure that if the Democrats were to apply David Harris’ “Adelson test” to all the contributions they have received from Hollywood moguls and other wealthy business people, they wouldn’t like the results.

So let extremists in both parties stop this nonsense about returning “tainted” contributions and focus on the real issues that separate the Democrats from the Republicans.
Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Alan Dershowitz: Iran Declares War Against the Jewish People

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

The Iranian government, long known for its Holocaust denial and anti-Zionism, has now declared war against the Jewish people. In a speech delivered in Tehran, Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi accused the Jewish people of spreading illegal drugs around the world, killing Black babies, starting the Bolshevik Revolution and causing many of the world’s other ills. His “proof”: “The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anyone who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict. They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade.”

There are, of course, numerous addicts among Jews and Zionists, as there are among all groups. Israel has several treatment centers for drug addicts as do Jewish communities throughout the world. He also cited “proof” that the Jews caused the Bolshevik Revolution: not a single Jew was killed during that Revolution. Of course, thousands of Jews were murdered during the Bolshevik Revolution as well as during Stalin’s purges in the decades following the establishment of the Soviet Union.

But don’t expect truth from a country whose leaders deny the existence of even a single gay person in all of Iran.

Vice President Rahimi cited the Talmud as the source of his claptrap and in support of his claim that Jews believe that they are racially superior and that “God has created the world so that all other nations can serve them.”

These bigoted claims would be laughable if they did not have such a long and disturbing history. Virtually everything stated by Vice President Rahimi came directly out of Hitler’s playbook of the 1930s and Stalin’s playbook of the 1940s and 50s. They must be taken seriously in light of the fact that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and has already called for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map. Moreover, Iran’s surrogate, Hezbollah, has invited all the Jews of the world to move to Israel so that it will be easier to destroy them in one fell swoop.

Taken together, these statements and actions constitute a clear incitement to genocide, which is explicitly prohibited by international law and by the rules governing the International Criminal Court. Professor Irwin Cotler, the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, has drafted a brilliant brief making the case for indicting the Iranian leaders for inciting genocide against the Jewish people. Vice President Rahimi’s speech constitutes additional evidence of that crime, if any were needed.

If the leaders of Iran are guilty of incitement against the Jewish people, as they plainly are, they have many coconspirators and facilitators. In recent years these have included several prominent church leaders, such as Cardinal Glemp of Poland, Father Daniel Berrigan of the United States, Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras, Bishop Tutu of South Africa and numerous others who have crossed the line from anti-Zionism to overt anti-Semitism.

Cardinal Glemp, while serving as the primate of Poland, accused the Jews of bringing Communism, alcoholism and poverty to Poland. He also accused them of provoking anti-Semitism. Father Daniel Berrigan characterized the Jewish state as “a criminal Jewish community” that “manufactures human waste.” A current cardinal of the Catholic Church Oscar Andres Rodriguez Meridiaga, who is the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has been telling anyone who is willing to listen that “the Jews” are to blame for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners! How did Cardinal Rodriguez ever come up with this ridiculous idea? Here is his “logic:” the Vatican is anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. It follows, therefore, that “the Jews” had to get even with the Catholic Church, while at the same time deflecting attention away from Israeli injustices against the Palestinians. The Jews managed to do this by arranging for the media which they, of course, control to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal.

Not to be outdone, Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, claims that Americans are frightened of excessive Jewish influence in America because “the Jewish lobby is powerful—very powerful.” He compared the Jewish influence in America to that of “Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic and Idi Amin”—all of whom who were “powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.”

And now joining in the incitement is Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, who says that the situation of Arab citizens in Israel is much worse that what Blacks experienced in the South during Jim Crow, thus trivializing the suffering of her own people about which she has written so poignantly! She has now decided to withhold her writings from all readers of Hebrew, the language of the Jewish people.

Alan Dershowitz: Alice Walker’s Bigotry

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Alice Walker, who has a long history of supporting terrorism against Israel, has now resorted to bigotry and censorship against Hebrew-speaking readers of her writings. She has refused to allow The Color Purple to be translated into Hebrew. This is the moral and legal equivalent of neo-Nazi author David Duke disallowing his books to be sold to Black and Jewish readers. There is an appropriate moral and legal response to Walker’s bigotry. The publisher who had sought permission to publish Walker’s book in Hebrew should simply go ahead and do it—without her permission and over her objection. Walker could then sue for copyright infringement, and the issue would be squarely posed whether copyright laws, which are designed to encourage the promotion of literature, can be used to censor writings and prevent certain people from having access to it, based upon the language they read.

The laws of most Western countries prohibit discrimination based on race, religion and national origin. Walker is guilty of violating both the spirit and the letter of such laws. The laws of copyright should not be permitted to be used in the service of bigotry and censorship. But even if it were lawful for Walker to prevent Hebrew speakers from reading her book, it would be immoral to do so, and the publisher might well consider engaging in an act of civil disobedience, as Walker herself has done. Walker participated in unlawful efforts to break Israel’s entirely lawful military blockade of the Gaza Strip—a blockade designed to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups from bringing to Gaza weapons that are aimed at Israeli civilians. In doing so, she has provided material support for terrorism, in violation of the law of the United States and several other countries. Her bigotry against the Jewish state and in support of terrorists knows no bounds. Now she is even prepared to impose censorship of her own writings as a tool in support of terrorism.

She should not be permitted to get away with such bigotry. Nor should her actions be seen as morally elevated.

The laws of copyright were certainly not designed to encourage or even permit selective censorship based on national origin or religion. I am confident that reasonable courts would rule against Walker if she sought to sue a publisher who refused to go along with her bigoted censorship. Inaction in the face of bigotry is unacceptable. Alice Walker’s bigotry should be responded to by turning her own weapon—the written word—against her. Her writings should be published in Hebrew, whether she likes it or not, and the royalties should be contributed to the NAACP and other civil rights organizations that understand the true meaning of fighting against bigotry and real apartheid.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Alan Dershowitz: J Street Undercuts Obama Policy on Iran

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

President Obama recently invited me to the Oval Office for a discussion about Iran. The President reiterated to me in private what he had previously said in public: namely, that he would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons; that containment of a nuclear Iran was not an option; that sanctions and diplomatic pressures would be applied and increased first; but that, as a last recourse, the military option would not be taken off the table.

What the President said is now the official American policy with regard to the threat of a nuclear Iran. It is clear that sanctions and diplomacy alone will not convince the Iranian mullahs to halt their progress toward their goal of an Iran with nuclear weapons. The only realistic possibility of persuading the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions is for them to believe that there is a credible threat of an American military attack on their nuclear facilities. Unless this threat is credible, the Iranians will persist. And if the Iranians persist, and the Israelis do not believe that the American threat is credible, the Israelis will undertake a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. It is crucial, therefore, for America’s military threat to be credible and to be perceived as credible by both the Israelis and the Iranians.

Enter J Street. J Street is a lobby in Washington that advertises itself as “pro-Israel and pro-peace.” But its policy with regard to Iran is neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace. It is categorically opposed to any “military strike against Iran.” It is also opposed to maintaining any credible military threat against Iran, through “legislation, authorizing, encouraging or in other ways laying the ground work for the use of military force against Iran.” This is according to their official policy statement that can be read at http://jstreet.org/policy/policy-positions/iran. They favor sanctions and they recognize that “Iran obtaining nuclear weapons would pose a very serious threat to America and Israeli interests.” But they believe that diplomacy and sanctions alone can deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. By advocating this path, they are totally undercutting the policy of the Obama Administration. They are sending a message both to Iran and to Israel that there is no credible military threat, and that if Iran is prepared to withstand sanctions and diplomacy, they will have nothing further to worry about if they move forward with their nuclear weapons program.

The Obama Administration has tried very hard to persuade Israel that there is no space between the American position and the Israeli position on Iran. Whether or not this is true, there is a hole the size of a nuclear crater between Israel’s position, reflecting a widespread consensus within that country, and J Street’s position. Virtually every Israeli wants the United States to keep the military option on the table. This includes “doves” such as Israeli President Shimon Peres. Former United States President Bill Clinton also believes that the military option must be maintained. Virtually everyone, Israelis and Americans alike, hope that the military option will never have to be exercised. But the best way to make sure that it will not have to be exercised is to keep it credible. As George Washington put in his second inaugural speech: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”

J Street, in addition to undercutting both mainstream Israeli and American policy toward Iran, has also mischaracterized the views of those it cites in support of its benighted position. It cites Former Mossad Chiefs, Meir Dagan and Efraim Halevy as opposing any “military strike against Iran.” It cites these two security Israeli security experts in the context of opposing an American strike and an American threat to strike. Yet Dagan has explicitly stated that he would favor keeping the American military option on the table. This is what he has said: “The military option must always be on the table, with regards to Iran, but it must always be a last option.” This is quite different from the misleading manner in which J Street has characterized his views. The same is true of Efraim Halevy. When I read the J Street reference to Halevy, I immediately called him and told him how J Street had characterized his views and asked him if that was a correct characterization. His response: “That’s absolutely false.” He told me that he had repeatedly stated that the United States must keep the military option on the table as a last resort, though he hoped that it would never have to be used.

Dershowitz: Zimmerman Prosecutor’s Conduct Entirely Unprofessional

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

State Attorney Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case, recently called the Dean of Harvard Law School to complain about my criticism of some of her actions. She was transferred to the Office of Communications and proceeded to engage in a 40 minute rant, during which she threatened to sue Harvard Law School, to try to get me disciplined by the Bar Association and to file charges against me for libel and slander.

She said that because I work for Harvard and am identified as a professor she had the right to sue Harvard. When the communications official explained to her that I have a right to express my opinion as “a matter of academic freedom,” and that Harvard has no control over what I say, she did not seem to understand. She persisted in her nonstop whining, claiming that she is prohibited from responding to my attacks by the rules of professional responsibility—without mentioning that she has repeatedly held her own press conferences and made public statements throughout her career.

Her beef was that I criticized her for filing a misleading affidavit that willfully omitted all information about the injuries Zimmerman had sustained during the “struggle” it described. She denied that she had any obligation to include in the affidavit truthful material that was favorable to the defense. She insisted that she is entitled to submit what, in effect, were half truths in an affidavit of probable cause, so long as she subsequently provides the defense with exculpatory evidence. She should go back to law school, where she will learn that it is never appropriate to submit an affidavit that contains a half truth, because a half truth is regarded by the law as a lie, and anyone who submits an affidavit swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Before she submitted the probable cause affidavit, Corey was fully aware that Zimmerman had sustained serious injuries to the front and back of his head. The affidavit said that her investigators “reviewed” reports, statements and “photographs” that purportedly “detail[ed] the following.” It then went on to describe “the struggle,” but it deliberately omitted all references to Zimmerman’s injuries which were clearly visible in the photographs she and her investigators reviewed. That is Hamlet without the Prince! The judge deciding whether there is probable cause to charge the defendant with second degree murder should not have been kept in the dark about physical evidence that is so critical to determining whether a homicide occurred, and if so, a homicide of what degree. By omitting this crucial evidence, Corey deliberately misled the court.

Corey seems to believe that our criminal justice system is like a poker game in which the prosecution is entitled to show its cards only after the judge has decided to charge the defendant with second degree murder. That’s not the way the system is supposed to work and that’s not the way prosecutors are supposed to act. That a prosecutor would hide behind the claim that she did not have an obligation to tell the whole truth until after the judge ruled on probable cause displays a kind of gamesmanship in which prosecutors should not engage.

The prisons, both in Florida and throughout the United States, are filled with felons who submitted sworn statements that contained misleading half truths. Corey herself has probably prosecuted such cases.

Ironically, Corey has now succeeded in putting Zimmerman back in prison for a comparably misleading omission in his testimony. His failure to disclose money received from a PayPal account requesting donations for his legal defense made his testimony misleadingly incomplete. In her motion to revoke his bail, Corey argued that Zimmerman “intentionally deceived the court” by making “false representations.” The same can be said about Prosecutor Corey. She too misled and deceived the court by submitting an affidavit that relied on a review of photographs and other reports that showed injuries to Zimmerman, without disclosing the existence of these highly relevant injuries.

Even if Angela Corey’s actions were debatable, which I believe they were not, I certainly have the right, as a professor who has taught and practiced criminal law nearly 50 years, to express a contrary view. The idea that a prosecutor would threaten to sue someone who disagrees with her for libel and slander, to sue to university for which he works, and to try to get him disbarred, is the epitome of unprofessionalism. Fortunately, truth is a defense to such charges.

Alan Dershowitz: Edwards’ Jury Couldn’t Decide and For Good Reason

Friday, June 1st, 2012

It is a wise person who knows when not to decide. The jury in the John Edwards case rendered exactly the right verdict. Of course they couldn’t make up their mind on most of the charges. No rational person could. The judge essentially instructed them to get into John Edward’s mind (as well as into the minds of several other actors in this political soap opera) and to determine precisely what his intention was in receiving money from friends. If his intention was primarily personal (to try to save his marriage and not humiliate his wife any further), then there was no crime. But if his intent was primarily political (to help him get elected president), then there may have been a crime. Precisely how many angels were dancing on the head of that pin! No one, not even Edward’s himself, could calculate the precise quantification of his complex and multiple intentions. This kind of decision should never be the subject of a criminal case, and the jury was right to find a reasonable doubt as to one of the charges and to throw its hands up as to the others. All reasonable people should now hope that the Justice Department sees the light of day and does not seek a retrial. The jury has spoken, though ambiguously, and there is no reason to believe that another fairly picked jury will be able to discern the precise intentions of the actors with any greater certainty or precision.

This entire farce of a trial is part of a larger problem that infects not only America but other Western countries as well: the criminalization of policy differences and of personal sin. No one can justify what John Edwards did to his family, to American politics and to himself. He will forever pay a steep price for his selfishness and arrogance. But it is not a price that all Americans should have to pay by the distortion of the criminal justice system into a Rorschach test, in which the jury is asked to interpret vague action and attribute precise intentions to actions done with mixed motives.

The criminal law should be limited to what I call “Hamlet decisions.” Before a person is charged with a serious crime, the government should have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant actually engaged in a “to be or not to be” decision—to be a felon or not to be a felon, to step over a clear line that separates criminality from sin! There is no reason to believe that John Edwards ever made that decision, because the law governing his conduct is vague, subjective and unclear in the extreme.

At the time of the founding of our Republic, there was a common expression that said that a criminal law must be so clear that a potential defendant “can read it while running and still understand it.” The law under which Edwards was tried was so unclear that a bevy of lawyers could not understand it while sitting and studying it for hours.

So let the remaining charges be dropped against John Edwards. Let him be relegated for his deserved place in history and let us reserve the criminal law for real felons who knowingly violate clear criminal statutes. If Congress wants to criminalize what Edwards was accused of doing, let it enact a clear law that gives fair warning to all politicians that they may not accept any gifts, regardless of intent. I doubt Congress will pass such a law. In the absence of clear guidance, the Edwards jury showed wisdom and common sense. Let’s hope the Justice Department now does the same.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute  http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/alan-dershowitz-edwards-jury-couldnt-decide-and-for-good-reason/2012/06/01/

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