This week brought the strange news that the Chicago Tribune, which hasn’t supported a Democrat for president since 1947, endorsed Barack Obama. Add to this the endorsement of Alan Dershowitz, published (where else?) in the Jerusalem Post. Though Dershowitz is a nominal Democrat, I still find it odd and off-putting that he’d endorse Obama. He’s clearly far out of sync with Obama’s world view. Dersh endorsed Hillary in the primaries and certainly seems much more comfortable with her hawkish, slavishly pro-Israel line.
Personally, I think there’s an element of opportunism here. Everyone and their mother knows Obama is headed to victory. Dersh wants to be able to say he joined the party so as to get his ticket to the Inaugural Ball. He also wants to be able to say when Obama takes positions on Israeli policy with which he disagrees (i.e. Iran) that he supported Obama. It will give his criticism that much more credibility.
If you examine Dershowitz’s endorsement it seems entirely tactical, strangely cerebral, and not heartfelt at all, which renders it feeble in my eyes:
I also prefer Obama to McCain on the issue of Israel…I think it is better for Israel to have a liberal supporter in the White House than to have a conservative supporter in the oval office. Obama’s views on Israel will have greater impact on young people, on Europe, on the media and on others who tend to identify with the liberal perspective. Although I believe that centrists liberals in general tend to support Israel, I acknowledge that support from the left seems to be weakening as support from the right strengthens. The election of Barack Obama – a liberal supporter of Israel – will enhance Israel’s position among wavering liberals.
Shorter Dersh: I support Obama because he’s gonna win.
I can’t tell whether I despise Marty Peretz or Alan Dershowitz more. But one thing I have to say about Peretz is that he endorsed Obama before his victory was guaranteed (though Peretz’s endorsement too stemmed more from self-interest than conviction).
One of the more laughable entries in Dershowitz’s piece is his statement that Jews shouldn’t vote for a candidate solely because of his position about Israel. I find it hard to find a more monomaniacal pro-Israel American Jewish talking head than Dersh. He’s basically telling his reader’s to do as I say, not as I shrey.
You’ll also undoubtedly be pleased to know that Alan has the straight dope on why “extremists” like Norman Finkelstein, Jimmy Carter and Noam Chomsky hate Israel:
…Extremists on both sides of the political spectrum hate Israel, because they hate liberal democracies, because they tend to have a special place in their heart for tyrannical regimes, and because they often have strange views with regard to anything Jewish.
With simple-minded, sophistry like this it’s hard for me to understand how this guy is considered a distinguished academic by some people. Why would Harvard allow him on his faculty? Or does he write and teach about legal issues more cogently than he does about Israel? I hope to God he does because otherwise he’s as much of an intellectual charlatan in the law as he is in regards to Israel.
Hat tip to Tzvee.