by Eyal Clyne | Translation: Hava Oz
Earlier this year, Harvard’s Professor Alan Dershowitz received an honorory doctorate from Tel-Aviv University.
Dershowitz, who is a staunch defender of civil rights in the US, shows a bit more flexibility when it comes to Palestinian rights. In his book, “The Case for Israel”, he recycles the claims that the ‘world is against us’, that criticism of Israel is based on false myths, that antisemitism is the root of such criticism, rather than Israeli state policy. He describes Israel as an exemplary democracy, and a safe-haven for the Jews. What about the occupation? The siege? Lebanon? The Nakba? These simply do not exist. Its all just persecution and discrimination.
Dershowitz and Israel is a love affair. He loves Israel, and Israel loves him back. Love, it is well known, is blind. In this affair Dershowitz gives Israel a national prerogative. Israel, in his eyes is the only country for the persecuted Jews (and therefore any attack on her is anti-semitic). In his book “The Case for Peace” he does not see such a need for the Palestinians. In his opinion, they can make do with enclaves (Bantustans) under complete Israeli control, completly disinherited of land, water, contiguity, borders, etc. He even has the audacity to call this a “two state solution”, that is “acceptable to the Palestinians”. However, mainstream Israel, which is in love with such drivel, is also in love with Dershowitz. So this political courtship continues under academic pretenses. Dershowitz even went so far as to launch a direct and personal attack on “Goldstone’s lies”, which delighted the ears of the recent war supporters. Even though the world raises a questioning eyebrow in his direction, Israelis, permanent victims in our own eyes, embrace him and raise him on a dais Ben-Dror-Yemini-style.
Although Dershowitz teaches at Bar-Ilan University, and at the Interdisciplinary Centre, it is not clear what academic or humanitarian accomplishment he has furthered, that enduced the board of governers to decide that he is the most suitable person for this title. His work, is open to much disagreement, and a number of books have been written that refute his claims (for example “The Case against Israel, Counter Rhetoric, Beyond Chutzpah, all written by Jews). So besides the fact that Tel-Aviv University is already entangled with the army, the arms industry, and all the “Arab Specialists”– it choose to further strengthen its ties with the movement for justifying the colonialization industry in its backyard; and besides that its xenophobia studies institution is a leading partner in the industry of the mystification of anti-semitism (and of course places all criticism of Israel under this banner); this is also a real case of academic disgrace. His book was shown to contain many distortions, alterations of facts, and plagiarism (long quotes without reference to the source). A well known example is his reference to Benny Morris’s book in order to prove that ‘only’ 2000-3000 Palestinians were expelled by order, when Morris actually writes of 200, 000-300, 000…
The granting of an honorary degree by a leading Israeli academic institution is a badge of shame for the entire Israeli academia (in the past he also received such an honorary degree from Bar-Ilan University). It is a reminder that academic knowledge is not separable from the current historical, social and political atmosphere. Israelis’ dangerous sense of victimhood, resembling Germany after World War One, allows Israelis to continue and close their eyes.