The following is an edited and shortened version of an address delivered at the University of California at Berkeley on April 29.

As we marked the 56th anniversary of Israel I was reminded of myself in 1947 and 1948, watching the UN on television debating the division of Palestine into hopefully a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. It was accepted by the Jews, but rejected by the Palestinians.


And then one day in May Ben Gurion declared statehood. It was such a joyous moment! I remember when the director of my yeshiva came in and announced that words from Hatikva were officially changed from ‘going back to the land of our fathers’ to ‘a free people in our land.’

Those were the days. Those were the days when the Israeli-Arab conflict presented a clear-cut conflict between good and evil. Israelis were Holocaust survivors trying to build a Jewish democratic homeland that would always be open to Jewish immigrants and refugees. Doors to the world had been closed to so many refugees during the Holocaust.

On the other side were the Holocaust perpetrators. We forget too often that the Egyptian army commanders in large part were former Nazis given asylum by the Egyptian government. This was a conflict between democracy and tyranny. A conflict between those who wanted to accept the United Nations’ plan of a two-state resolution and those who rejected the existence of Israel.

The sad reality is that nothing has changed on the ground. These facts are still the same today as they were in 1947 or 1948, yet the perspectives have changed so dramatically. Even in 1956, even in 1967, even in the early 1970’s, most progressive, liberal and centrist people supported the right side of this struggle.

Sure, I favored a two-state solution. I’ve always favored a two-state solution. Israel has always favored a two-state solution, since 1937, when the Jews accepted the Peel Commission report which would have give the Palestinians a long, contiguous state and the Jews a totally non-contiguous state.

In 1947, the Jews were offered a non-contiguous state in which Jerusalem was separated from Tel Aviv and other Jewish cities, and the Palestinians were offered a contiguous state. And the Palestinians said no. Ben Gurion and the Israelis said yes. Nothing has changed. Not Israeli actions, to be sure.

What changed is the perception of the world. If a space alien from another planet were to come down to Earth and land at the General Assembly of the United Nations, or at some American college campuses, or many an urban capital, and have to report back to the distant galaxy from which he came, he’d report that this is a wonderful planet with great countries that love peace. Like Syria, which is on the Security Council. Or Libya, which chairs the Human Rights Commission. But there’s this one country, this evil nation that’s been condemned by the UN more than any other country or all other countries combined. If the spaceship landed on the Berkeley campus, all the canards and untruths about Israel – genocide, apartheid, all the claims you hear so often – would be heard. And that?s the tragedy.

And that’s why I had to write The Case For Israel. It’s my least favorite book, I have to tell you. It’s the book nobody wants to write. Nobody has to write ‘The Case for Canada’ or ‘The Case for Spain’ or ‘The Case for Australia.’ There’s so much lying on college campuses today, so many untruths, so many legalese falsities being directed against Israel. But the impetus to write The Case For Israel came when the divestiture campaign began at Harvard and Berkeley and many of our college campuses. No members of the law school faculty, the medical school faculty, or the business school signed, but many at the other schools and departments signed the petition.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleCommentary And Outreach At Jewish World Review
Next articleLonging For The Sacred: Lost Synagogues Of The Shoah Stained Glass Models By Felix Reisner; Paintings By Greta Schreyer
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School, and is the author of “Guilt by Accusation” and host of the “The Dershow” podcast. Follow Alan Dershowitz on Twitter (@AlanDersh) and on Facebook (@AlanMDershowitz).