Alan Dershowitz, American Jews, and the Religion of Liberalism

At a critical juncture in the formation of this country’s Mideast policy, Alan Dershowitz has taken a public stand portraying Obama as a friend of Israel. Dershowitz recently stated in Frontpage Magazine that he “will continue to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt.” Dershowitz makes this assertion notwithstanding the abundant measures that the Obama administration has taken indicating that it has very little interest in maintaining the strong friendship that America and Israel have sustained throughout previous administrations.

Dershowitz’s Frontpage article follows a piece in the Wall Street Journal in which Dershowitz vapidly argued that Obama’s strident policy on Israeli settlements is not an indication of America’s lack of support for Israel. I responded to that article in an American Thinker blog in which I examined the lack of substance in Dershowitz’s position.

What I find particularly disturbing about Dershowitz’s recent arguments in favor of continued support of Obama by American Jews is the shallowness of Dershowitz’s analysis, the complete lack of reason, and sadly, the influence that Dershowitz has on liberal Jewish minds. Throughout the campaign, Jewish friends and family argued that because the great majority of American Jews were behind Obama, he must be supportive of Israel. Despite readily available information foretelling the likelihood that an Obama administration would be disastrous for the State of Israel, American Jews overwhelmingly voted for him.

Since his election, there has been extensive analysis of the Obama administration’s Mideast policies. The situation for Israel does not look good. With good reason, both conservative and liberal Jews are beginning to express concern. At a time when Jewish organizations across the country should be speaking out, Dershowitz arrives on the scene asserting his continued support for Obama and his policies. And I am concerned that American Jews will buy into his narrative the same way they have bought into Obama’s lies hook, line and sinker without thinking, reasoning, and analyzing the facts before them.

Dershowitz’s follow-up piece in Frontpage is particularly telling and deserves scrutiny. The most insightful phrase in the article, “I want Jews to remain Democrats.” exemplifies the real issue. Dershowitz modifies that phrase with the following:

“[I]f they support, as I do, liberal principles such as a women’s [sic] right to choose abortion, the right of gays and lesbians to equal justice, and other progressive policies.”
Whew – at least he recognizes that these policies are progressive. What Dershowitz fails to recognize is that these progressive policies are meaningless if we no longer live in a free society and if we are no longer safe within our borders and abroad. Furthermore, as a Jew, I take little comfort in Obama safekeeping a woman’s right to an abortion while turning his back on Israel, potentially leading to its demise (whether through an Iranian nuclear attack or the forced right of return of Palestinian Arabs).

Dershowitz declares his strong support for separation of church and state, claiming that this principle has been responsible for the success of American Jews. Yet he fails to recognize the contribution of free markets, which may very well be a thing of the past if Obama continues down his socialist path.

While claiming that the separation of church and state is responsible for American Jews’ success, Dershowitz ignores the fact that Jews have flourished under both Democrat and Republican administrations. By simply asserting that Republicans “seek to lower the wall of separation which would endanger the status of Jews in the country” without providing any basis for such a claim is taking a page from the Obama playbook: sound good, get the citizens high on hope and change, but don’t give any specifics.

This is but one example of the lack of critical thinking in Dershowitz’s writings that I fear American Jews will read, believe, and follow. Many people have asked me to explain why 78% of American Jews voted for Obama when it was so clear that he would not support Israel. Dershowitz’s article epitomizes the reason why. Liberal Jews are liberals before they are Jews. They are more concerned with the right to an abortion than they are with the survival of their homeland. There is no place in the world where Jews will forever be welcome other than Israel. Yet American Jews are so comfortable in this country that Israel is but a second thought, a lowly concern on the totem pole of “progressive” issues.

A man recently approached me to discuss his frustration with his Jewish neighbors who claimed to be Zionists throughout the campaign yet voted for Obama. He explained that when he attempts to discuss Obama’s Mideast policies with them, they now respond, “We are Americans first.” I wonder what German Jews would have called themselves in the 1930’s as they thrived economically before becoming the subject of a genocide never before seen in the history of modern civilization. Are we supposed to take comfort now in Dershowitz’s analysis that Jews will prosper under a President who will protect the purported separation of church and state -- while gutting the real Constitution?

Dershowitz waxes poetically about Obama’s “landslide victory,” the Republicans’ “failed Iraq policy” and our “young, extremely popular African American President who supports Israel [who will] be far more influential with mainstream Americans and with people throughout the world than an old conservative republican [sic] who supports Israel.” (One would think that a Harvard law professor would characterize that phrase as racist with a bit of age discrimination thrown in for good measure.)

Dershowitz declares that he takes Obama “at his word” and judges administrations “by their actions” and yet he ignores every campaign promise on which Obama has reneged and every action that the Obama administration has taken to damage our relationship with Israel and strengthen our relationship with her enemies. Dershowitz discusses the two-state solution proposed by Netanyahu and insinuates that Obama supports this despite the fact that everything coming out of the administration has indicated support for a Saudi-style peace plan.

Dershowitz quotes Biden’s suggestion that Israel should have a right to take military action to protect its citizens while completely ignoring Obama’s retort that he absolutely has not given the green light to Israel to attack Iran.

Finally, Dershowitz believes that Obama has a better chance of convincing Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions through diplomacy than through “a tough talking and non-negotiating Republican administration.”

The real flaw in Dershowitz’s logic is set forth at the beginning of his article where he states, “American support for Israel must remain bipartisan” yet he fails to recognize that prior to Obama’s inauguration, Israel was never a partisan issue. Americans predominantly supported Israel and valued her as an ally. The divide between Democrats and Republicans has only emerged in response to very dramatic changes in US policy towards Israel. And it is Republican Jews that are taking a stand, Republican Jews that are speaking out, and Republican Jews that unconditionally support Israel.

While I expect a man as liberal as Alan Dershowitz to continue to support a man as liberal as Barack Obama, I do not expect Dershowitz to publish articles meant to influence Jewish opinion that contain no facts, twisted logic, and absolutely no reasoned analysis.