This post will be part of my Dershowitz Watch series. Big Al has been tooting his big mouth again all over the place as is his wont.
The Forward notes his typically flamboyant rhetorical response to the vote by English university professors to support boycotting Israeli universities:
Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School professor and prominent pro-Israel advocate, said that to protest the vote he will attempt to mobilize 1,000 American university professors of diverse backgrounds to join him in declaring themselves honorary Israeli professors.
“I now consider myself an Israeli professor, and I will act as if I am an Israeli professor,” Dershowitz said. “If they boycott Israel,” he added, “they’re boycotting me.”
One has to admire Big Al’s attempt at pro-Israel solidarity. But really, it sounds a bit nutty to declare oneself “an honorary Israeli professor.” What does this mean in purely practical terms? How will you actually do anything to help Israel or combat the boycott? And does he really do Israeli professors or universities a favor in this? Does he really think that he is such a crucial figure that English academics will weep when they learn that they’ve lost contact with him? To me, this is just typical Dershowitz megalomania and self-aggrandizement.
I note with pleasure that this same Forward article utilizes my blog post (and credits Tikun Olam) about Yigal Arens’ being blackballed from an Israeli academic conference on web terrorism. I first learned about the story from Akiva Eldar in Haaretz and most recently Muzzlewatch.
Muzzlewatch has some more luscious bits about Dersh that are too juicy to pass up. Apparently, distinguished evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers wrote the Harvard hack a personal e-mail attacking his piteous defense of Israel’s war against the Lebanese people. Trivers quoted the message in a separate Wall Street Journal letter:
“Regarding your rationalization of Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians, let me just say that if there is a repeat of Israeli butchery toward Lebanon and if you decide once again to rationalize it publicly, look forward to a visit from me. Nazis — and Nazi-like apologists such as yourself — need to be confronted directly.”
Dershowitz was supposedly so alarmed that Trivers would come at him brandishing a dueling pistol that he reported the alleged threat to the Boston police. Harvard, in turn, cancelled a scheduled talk by Trivers in which he anticipated applying his award-winning academic research on self-deception to Dershowitz’s political views. Big Al says he had nothing to do with it. Given his sterling record of probity and rhetorical honesty, should we take him at his word?
Speaking as someone who is attacked & wished ill not only in this blog but in many other places on the web, I’d have to say that Dersh is pathetic in not being able to tell the difference between an unfortunate and overly dramatic attempt at a rhetorical flourish (on Trivers part) and a genuine threat. Methinks the big guy doth protest too much. He blows up Trivers comment into a physical threat to call more attention to poor old Al, victim of bigots and anti-Semites the world over.
On a related note, I find it ironic that Dershowitz is crying in his beer over Trivers’ abuse when the big man himself has been only too willing to defend ardently a particularly slimy attack by Kahanist Israeli academic, Steven Plaut, against fellow Israeli professor Neve Gordon. The latter wrote a favorable review of Norman Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah in Haaretz. The aggrieved Plaut then tore into Gordon calling him a “Jew for Hitler” and another jolly Kahanist epithet, a “Juden-Rat” (get it?). Plaut also claimed Yaser Arafat was “Gordon’s guru” because the latter joined the Palestinian leader during a particularly nasty period of the Israeli siege against his compound.
To his credit, Gordon fought back and sued Plaut for libel and won. The judge awarded $18,000 to Gordon for his trouble. Plaut, who’d done his partner in hate (this is, Dershowitz) such a good turn in attacking Gordon, turned his back to Dershowitz for some “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine.” The latter penned this typical poison pen letter (linked above) in the Jerusalem Post about Gordon’s court victory. It’s full of overblown rhetoric, innuendo, untruths and overstatements.
But hey, Al Dershowitz isn’t going to be stopped by a little thing called truth or fairness. Why be fair when you have a chance to knock a man over the head with a rhetorical hammer? I especially love this little number:
…If Finkelstein and Gordon aren’t themselves explicitly neo-Nazi, they’re at least very highly regarded by those who are – and for good reason
You notice that Al tiptoes up to that statement “If Finkelstein and Gordon aren’t themselves explicitly neo-Nazi…” before retreating a bit (but only a bit) by saying that they might as well be neo-Nazis since they’re allegedly beloved by them. This is of course ludicrous rhetorical argument. If I make an argument in good faith and someone I heartily disapprove of twists my argument into something I didn’t intend, am I responsible for such an abuse? To put it even more starkly: am I a neo-Nazi or as good as one if a neo-Nazi exploits my words for his own shady use? The answer is most emphatically No. To argue otherwise is intellectually bankrupt and disingenuous. One other rabid right-wing pro-Israel nut argues in precisely the same manner, David Horowitz and his slug/slimefest, Frontpagemagazine. I can remember the latter’s feeble attempt to call Brit Tzedek Jew-hating because a board member had been quoted at an Islamic website.
We should further note that one slimy hand washes another: Plaut has publicly taken up the cudgels against Norman Finkelstein in his current efforts to gain tenure at DePaul University with this beaut, The Second City’s Twin Academic Neonazis. Notice that while Dersh was too cute by half in his “neo-Nazi” claim, Plaut dispenses with any ambiguity and charges them outright with the “crime.” The chief campaigner against Finkelstein is none other than–you guessed it–Big Al. These hateful, defaming louts are one big happy tag-team wrestling family.
I guess I should consider myself in august company to have a defamatory website created by Steven Plaut to mock me: Little Dickie’s Diaper Droppings. I have a question for Professor Dershowitz though–does he really want to get into bed with lunatics like Plaut who use pornography (among other techniques) to defame their victims? Al should just be glad that Trivers didn’t write about him the porno poetry Plaut has fraudulently atttributed to me:
I’m a little jerkoff
That [sic] I shout
A know-nothing twit and
a terrorist no doubt
When I get “religious”
then I just
stroke my penis to see what comes out.
As to who’s stroking whom, I’d say there’s a lot more of it going on between Dersh and Plaut.
UPDATE: Since originally writing this post, I have learned that an anonymous individual claims responsibility for the fake blog and says neither Steven Plaut nor Rachel Neuwirth has participated. So while I have no idea whether this person is being truthful, it is possible that Plaut is either not involved in the blog, is partially involved, or that the blog claimant is lying and Plaut is fully responsible. I don’t yet know for sure which is the case.
The fake blog was created in the immediate aftermath of a series of posts I wrote criticizing Rachel Neuwirth,which leads me to believe that she has had some direct or indirect involvement in the creation of this website. Again, I cannot yet determine the full extent of that involvement though it appears likely to me there is at least some, if not a good deal.