Dershowitz's Weak Analysis of Obama's Support for Israel (updated)

Lauri Regan
Against the background of increasing world-wide anti -Semitism, Alan Dershowitz has been a helpful advocate for Israel, particularly given the paucity of Israeli support from the left. His piece in today's Wall Street Journal, however, falls far short of the mark.

Dershowitz argues that Obama's strident policy on settlements is not an indication of America's lack of support for Israel. He is wrong to do so. First, Dershowitz claims that Obama's harsher approach toward Israel is rhetorical form over substance, cavalierly dismissing stated policy simply because he can envision an acceptable compromise. He bases his statement on a flimsy rationale of some perceived but unsubstantiated Jewish American support which is not exactly a reassuring stratagem for foreign policy. But what happened to Obama's insistence that "words must matter"? Is that rhetoric or substance?

Furthermore, Dershowitz neglects to mention the seminal settlement related issues, such as the fact that the settlements are not illegal under international law -- and that the U.S. has no business meddling into the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. (It seems as though that policy only applies to hostile nations who are openly committed to the destruction of Israel and the U.S.) That Dershowitz has in the past made compelling arguments in favor of the legality of Israel's settlements is telling if not intellectually dishonest. Additionally, Dershowitz omits any mention of our past written and oral commitments to Israel supporting its right to natural settlement growth that, like other inconvenient facets of reality not fitting into Obama's grand scheme of weak-kneed appeasement, have been completely ignored.

In discussing the most striking example of the administration's hostility toward Israel, the nonsensical linkage between a two state solution and a nuclear Iran, Dershowitz states that Rahm Emanuel "appeared" to link the two issues, completely ignoring the numerous statements coming out of the White House indicating that this is in fact the administration's policy. Since there is no justification for such an appalling position, Dershowitz dances around the issue by calling it "disturbing" and suggesting it should be "disavowed."

The Obama administration has done nothing to suggest it will drop this ultimatum or to indicate it is willing to get tough with Iran. Where is Dershowitz's outrage for a policy of risking the security of our nation's greatest ally to palliate the Arab world? What data points does Dershowitz cite to support his view that the Obama administration will change course relative to either Israel or Iran? Does anyone seriously believe that Obama would consider the military option?

Dershowitz drops the ball on this point because there is nothing to suggest otherwise. That he mentions Dennis Ross as the administration's "point man" -- who publicly questioned the linkage of Iran and the settlement issue -- is vapid. Dershowitz omits the fact that the administration has replaced Ross as envoy to Iran.

Dershowitz also claims there is no evidence to suggest weakening support for Israel's right to defend itself. What about the constant drumbeat of our administration's support for closing checkpoints, easing restrictions at the crossings, and handing over control of the West Bank to Palestinian armed militants, all under the convenient tripe of making life easier for those poor, unfortunate Palestinians? How about the billion dollars of support for Hamas?

Dershowitz concludes that there is no reason to confuse Obama's policy on settlement expansion with undercutting Israel's security. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary. In justifying his opinion, Dershowitz states that:

"Successful presidential candidates often soften their support for Israel once they are elected."

The bait and switch Dershowitz refers to at the beginning of his article never occurred under Bush and it should not be acceptable under Obama simply because Dershowitz's liberalism allowed him to buy into the deceit dished out by Obama throughout the campaign. If he is having buyer's remorse, Dershowitz should whine to a different audience, but I expect that the readers of the WSJ found his justification for his vote "despite [Obama's] friendships with rabidly anti-Israel characters" to be pathetically lacking in reasoned analysis.

Update: The incomparable Melanie Phillips
weighs in on Deershowitz's op-ed. Mladen Andrijasevic writes:

It all boils down to Obama’s policy towards Iran.


Alan Dershowitz writes:


If the Obama administration were to shift toward learning to live with a nuclear Iran and attempt to deny Israel the painful option of attacking its nuclear targets as a last resort, that would be troubling indeed.


Melanie Phillips responds:


Dershowitz also grossly underplays the terrible harm Obama is doing to the security not just of Israel but the world through his reckless appeasement of Iran. In the last few weeks, this has actively undercut the Iranian democrats trying to oust their tyrannical regime, and has actually strengthened that regime. All the evidence suggests ever more strongly that Obama has decided America will ‘live with’ a nuclear Iran, whatever it does to its own people. Which leaves Israel hung out to dry.


In an article I wrote in October last year I criticized Alan Dershowitz and Colin Powell for underestimating the Iranian threat:


What do Alan Dershowitz and Colin Powell have in common? Apparently, neither of them know much about the Mahdi , the hidden Twelfth Imam whose return will be triggered, the mullahs are convinced, by the destruction of the Jews through a nuclear war.


Dershowitz has by now begun to realize the significance of Iran. He understands that the linkage between the efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and Israeli actions with regard to the settlements is wrong:


This is a disturbing linkage that should be disavowed by the Obama administration. Opposition to a nuclear Iran -- which would endanger the entire world -- should not be dependent in any way on the issue of settlement expansion.


Despite the stopping Iran - settlements  linkage created by the administration, Dershowitz still believes that the Obama administration has not shifted towards learning to live with a nuclear Iran and attempting to deny Israel the painful option of attacking its nuclear targets.  But Obama is continuing to seek "engagement" with Iran as John Bolton points out , whereas  Biden has  already stated that Israel would be ill-advised to attack Iran . Therefore  Dershowitz’s  hypothetical “troubling”  scenario is already happening. 

Against the background of increasing world-wide anti -Semitism, Alan Dershowitz has been a helpful advocate for Israel, particularly given the paucity of Israeli support from the left. His piece in today's Wall Street Journal, however, falls far short of the mark.

Dershowitz argues that Obama's strident policy on settlements is not an indication of America's lack of support for Israel. He is wrong to do so. First, Dershowitz claims that Obama's harsher approach toward Israel is rhetorical form over substance, cavalierly dismissing stated policy simply because he can envision an acceptable compromise. He bases his statement on a flimsy rationale of some perceived but unsubstantiated Jewish American support which is not exactly a reassuring stratagem for foreign policy. But what happened to Obama's insistence that "words must matter"? Is that rhetoric or substance?

Furthermore, Dershowitz neglects to mention the seminal settlement related issues, such as the fact that the settlements are not illegal under international law -- and that the U.S. has no business meddling into the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. (It seems as though that policy only applies to hostile nations who are openly committed to the destruction of Israel and the U.S.) That Dershowitz has in the past made compelling arguments in favor of the legality of Israel's settlements is telling if not intellectually dishonest. Additionally, Dershowitz omits any mention of our past written and oral commitments to Israel supporting its right to natural settlement growth that, like other inconvenient facets of reality not fitting into Obama's grand scheme of weak-kneed appeasement, have been completely ignored.

In discussing the most striking example of the administration's hostility toward Israel, the nonsensical linkage between a two state solution and a nuclear Iran, Dershowitz states that Rahm Emanuel "appeared" to link the two issues, completely ignoring the numerous statements coming out of the White House indicating that this is in fact the administration's policy. Since there is no justification for such an appalling position, Dershowitz dances around the issue by calling it "disturbing" and suggesting it should be "disavowed."

The Obama administration has done nothing to suggest it will drop this ultimatum or to indicate it is willing to get tough with Iran. Where is Dershowitz's outrage for a policy of risking the security of our nation's greatest ally to palliate the Arab world? What data points does Dershowitz cite to support his view that the Obama administration will change course relative to either Israel or Iran? Does anyone seriously believe that Obama would consider the military option?

Dershowitz drops the ball on this point because there is nothing to suggest otherwise. That he mentions Dennis Ross as the administration's "point man" -- who publicly questioned the linkage of Iran and the settlement issue -- is vapid. Dershowitz omits the fact that the administration has replaced Ross as envoy to Iran.

Dershowitz also claims there is no evidence to suggest weakening support for Israel's right to defend itself. What about the constant drumbeat of our administration's support for closing checkpoints, easing restrictions at the crossings, and handing over control of the West Bank to Palestinian armed militants, all under the convenient tripe of making life easier for those poor, unfortunate Palestinians? How about the billion dollars of support for Hamas?

Dershowitz concludes that there is no reason to confuse Obama's policy on settlement expansion with undercutting Israel's security. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary. In justifying his opinion, Dershowitz states that:

"Successful presidential candidates often soften their support for Israel once they are elected."

The bait and switch Dershowitz refers to at the beginning of his article never occurred under Bush and it should not be acceptable under Obama simply because Dershowitz's liberalism allowed him to buy into the deceit dished out by Obama throughout the campaign. If he is having buyer's remorse, Dershowitz should whine to a different audience, but I expect that the readers of the WSJ found his justification for his vote "despite [Obama's] friendships with rabidly anti-Israel characters" to be pathetically lacking in reasoned analysis.

Update: The incomparable Melanie Phillips
weighs in on Deershowitz's op-ed. Mladen Andrijasevic writes:

It all boils down to Obama’s policy towards Iran.


Alan Dershowitz writes:


If the Obama administration were to shift toward learning to live with a nuclear Iran and attempt to deny Israel the painful option of attacking its nuclear targets as a last resort, that would be troubling indeed.


Melanie Phillips responds:


Dershowitz also grossly underplays the terrible harm Obama is doing to the security not just of Israel but the world through his reckless appeasement of Iran. In the last few weeks, this has actively undercut the Iranian democrats trying to oust their tyrannical regime, and has actually strengthened that regime. All the evidence suggests ever more strongly that Obama has decided America will ‘live with’ a nuclear Iran, whatever it does to its own people. Which leaves Israel hung out to dry.


In an article I wrote in October last year I criticized Alan Dershowitz and Colin Powell for underestimating the Iranian threat:


What do Alan Dershowitz and Colin Powell have in common? Apparently, neither of them know much about the Mahdi , the hidden Twelfth Imam whose return will be triggered, the mullahs are convinced, by the destruction of the Jews through a nuclear war.


Dershowitz has by now begun to realize the significance of Iran. He understands that the linkage between the efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and Israeli actions with regard to the settlements is wrong:


This is a disturbing linkage that should be disavowed by the Obama administration. Opposition to a nuclear Iran -- which would endanger the entire world -- should not be dependent in any way on the issue of settlement expansion.


Despite the stopping Iran - settlements  linkage created by the administration, Dershowitz still believes that the Obama administration has not shifted towards learning to live with a nuclear Iran and attempting to deny Israel the painful option of attacking its nuclear targets.  But Obama is continuing to seek "engagement" with Iran as John Bolton points out , whereas  Biden has  already stated that Israel would be ill-advised to attack Iran . Therefore  Dershowitz’s  hypothetical “troubling”  scenario is already happening.