This is one in a contuining series which I call Dersh Watch. To wit, a chronicle of the brazen, lying effrontery of one of Israel’s most disgusting boosters. The latest is a review he wrote for the N.Y. Times of a new biography of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
Here’s the whopper of a passage:
Brandeis was convinced that Zionism was an outgrowth of his progressive values. The idea of Jews’ having a homeland, based on social justice and Jewish prophetic principles, seemed entirely natural to him. He poured his heart, soul, fortune and considerable energies into persuading American Jews, who were generally unsympathetic to European Zionism, that one could be a patriotic American while at the same time advocating a Jewish homeland for the oppressed Jews of Europe. His most important contribution to Israel’s establishment was in turning Zionism from a theory alien to many American Jews into a pragmatic program to rid the Holy Land of disease, to increase its agricultural production and to make it feasible for European Jews to live in peace with their Arab neighbors.
Now, it is possible that Brandeis himself believed that Zionism was a pragmatic program to rid the Holy Land of disease though Dershowitz doesn’t make clear from where this sentiment derived. But even if we avert our eyes from the obvious inference that the Arab inhabitants of the Holy Land might be the “disease” which Zionists wished to remove from the Holy Land, the notion that Israel before the arrival of Zionists was a cesspool of vice and disease reeks of colonial noblesse oblige. While I agree with Dershowitz that Brandeis in much of his jurisprudence and political activism was a consummate progressive, if Brandeis actually espoused the views the reviewer claims for him, then in this he was little more than a typical western colonialist (of whom there were undoubtedly many in America at the time including perhaps chief among them, Teddy Roosevelt).
Another recently published passage from Dershowitz in the Jerusalem Post is a superb specimen of the Dersh Big Lie. In a painfully bloated assault on Neve Gordon for his recently ground-breaking L.A. Times op ed supporting the BDS movement, (likely settler Rebbetzin) Yocheved Miriam Russo*:
“It is my opinion that Neve Gordon has gotten into bed with neo-Nazis, Holocaust justice deniers, and anti-Semites…. he is a despicable example of a self-hating Jew and a self-hating Israeli, whose writing consists of anti-Israeli propaganda designed to ‘prove’ that the Jewish State is fascist.”
Neve Gordon actually supports a two state solution and has never had any direct involvement or contact with any of the groups Dersh mentions above. You’ll note that the Harvard professor never even deigns to prove his charge and there’s one reason for that, he can’t. I also find it laughable that an Jewish Ivy League lawyer, who never put on a uniform to defend Israel is calling a decorated IDF officer, who fought in a major battle of the 1982 Lebanon war, suffering there a wound causing a 40% disability, a “self-hating Jew and self-hating Israeli.” This is height of antic chutzpah.
Though I’m not an expert on Neve Gordon’s writing, the idea that he’s called Israel “fascist” seems far-fetched in the extreme. Of course, he’s called Israel’s Occupation apartheid. But only a flaming demagogue with lazy rhetorical habits could believe that the two terms are synonymous. Neve Gordon actually believes in Israeli democracy (real democracy, not ethnocracy) far more than Alan Dershowitz and that’s what burns rightist rhetorical thugs like him up.
Just by the way, this interview with Der Dersh is instructive in that we freely admits he “doesn’t have a particularly good brain” but does have an overactive mouth:
When I was young everybody told me I had a good mouth, but I didn’t have a particularly good brain. And so my principal called me in one day and said: “Find a profession that you use your mouth but not your head. You could either be,” he said, “a lawyer or a Conservative rabbi.” I wasn’t smart enough to be a rabbi so I had to become a lawyer.
* Among Russo’s publishing outlets are the Kahanist N.Y. Jewish Press and Chabad.org.
I see you won’t cut any slack for Dershowitz, but you will always do so for the Palestinians. When he quotes Brandeis as saying they wanted to rid Palestine of disease, you extrapolate and say he is inferring that the Arabs are the “disease”, even though the quote continues and says the Jews wanted to live in peace with the Arabs. On the other hand, when the Sabeel Christian Palestinian militants say “just as they crucified Jesus 2000 years ago, they are crucifying the Palestinians today”, you get quite agitated when people draw the natural conclusion that they are referring to traditional Christian antisemitic claims of nefarious Jewish behavior, claiming that they are not saying that at all (then what is that they are saying?).
Richard Silverstein says
I credit Dersh with having something like a Freudian slip in which he appears to be claiming that Brandeis saw Zionism as a way of ridding Palestine of disease. But perhaps lurking in the back of the Arab hater’s mind is a slightly darker unconscious thought.
Not quite, Dersh doesn’t quote Brandeis. He merely states that Brandeis believed Jews could live in peace with Arabs. I suppose Brandeis might’ve believed this possible. But trusting a Dersh claim of what someone believes w/o going directly to the source can be dangerous.
You know the rules here. If you wish to claim someone has said something you provide the actual name of the person who said it and an online original source that documents the quotation. This is getting tiresome, B.K. If you can’t provide a credible source for this quotation we’ll chalk it up to your overactive pro-settler imagination.
William Smart says
The biggest single weakness of the Zionists argument is this “wanted to live in peace with the Palestinians” nonsense. Every indication is that, from Herzl onwards, the Zionists intended ethnic cleansing. Some of them were careful about saying it in public, but many were not.
As we know, one cannot use the words of any Palestinian without hoots of derision, but Benny Morris is an enthusiastic Israeli and presents no such problem. He was extensively used by Mearshimer and Walt to prove the Zionists always intended transfer.
See how Morris has tied himself in knots on p.35 of http://hbpub.vo.llnwd.net/o16/video/olmk/setting_the_record_straight.pdf One feels sorry for him, he did all this careful “New Historian” work without realising the enormous damage it was going to do. His arguments now are in flat contradiction of what he wrote then.
In his 2001 Easter message he stated, in part:
As we approach Holy Week and Easter, the suffering of Jesus Christ at the hands of evil political and religious powers two thousand years ago is lived out again in Palestine. The number of innocent Palestinians and Israelis that have fallen victim to Israeli state policy is increasing.
Here in Palestine Jesus is again walking the via dolorosa. Jesus is the powerless Palestinian humiliated at a checkpoint, the woman trying to get through to the hospital for treatment, the young man whose dignity is trampled, the young student who cannot get to the university to study, the unemployed father who needs to find bread to feed his family; the list is tragically getting longer, and Jesus is there in their midst suffering with them. He is with them when their homes are shelled by tanks and helicopter gunships. He is with them in their towns and villages, in their pains and sorrows.
Richard Silverstein says
Let’s compare the passage you quote in the comment above with the original passage which you placed in quotation marks as if Ateek had spoken them:
A search of the web for this exact passage turns up nothing. So why did you place it in quotation marks? Did you mean to say this is what you think Ateek believes? If so, the quotation marks make the passage deliberately misleading.
Second, nothing in the passage you quoted from Wikipedia shocks or disturbs me at all. It does not say that Israel is ‘crucifying’ Palestinians (as you claim) though it does talk about Palestinian ‘suffering’ and compare it to Jesus’. But ‘suffering’ and ‘crucifixion’ are 2 quite diff. terms, though perhaps they’re conveniently the same for you.
There’s a good chance that the ‘disease’ reference is to malaria, but Dershowitz is without doubt a toxic lying scumbag. Can I say that without getting you in trouble?
“His most important contribution to Israel’s establishment was in turning Zionism from a theory alien to many American Jews into a pragmatic program to rid the Holy Land of disease, to increase its agricultural production and to make it feasible for European Jews to live in peace with their Arab neighbors.”
It doesn’t make sense, because the European Jews that were transferred to the Holy Land were probably infected with far worse diseases due to the absolutely shocking conditions they had to endure during the holocaust. Obviously, American Jews didn’t know this at the time which is why Dershowitz boasts that “without Brandeis’s advocacy, the United States would not have supported the establishment of Israel.”
“When the Nazis invaded Poland, they hoarded the Jews into Ghettos within the major Polish cities like Warsaw and Lodz. The conditions in the Ghettos were atrocious. Many of the Ghetto inhabitants died of disease, exposure, and starvation. The Ghettos were used in Poland for most of the war.”
In the concentration camps, “…if they did not starve to death they fell prey to the various diseases that were rampant in every concentration camp throughout Nazi occupied territory.”
“Some diseases that were present in the camps are as follows, Typhus, Typhoid, Dysentery, and Tuberculosis…[in] massive amounts.”
“There were many large epidemics of disease during the Holocaust, including one large one of Typhus in June of 1942 in Auschwitz.”
Had American Jews known this, Brandeis’s advocacy would have fallen flat on its face.
Yah, I am no fan of Dershoshitz, but I think Brandies was speaking hear of actual disease…malaria as Michael suggests…
I was going to say exactly the same thing as Michael — that Dershowitz probably really did have malaria in mind (that after all was the land that the JNF actually bought and didn’t steal). Oh, and, yes, Dershowitz is a toxic lying plagiarizing scumbag.
I just found an interesting review of a book about Brandeis.
The salient quote from that article concerning what Richard wrote is this:
“One reason Brandeis was so enthusiastic about Palestine, especially after he visited in 1919, was that he saw in it a blank slate for Jews to create the kind of democratic, egalitarian society he was working for in America”.
“Blank slate”? Disease (Palestinians vs malaria)?
There was NOT a blank slate in Palestine unless one wanted to make it blank, rid the country of it’s Palestinians.
This is the very argument Zionists were able to sell (the land was blank) to gain support, and it was at it’s core a LIE.
Therein lies the problem.
Best explanation I have heard, in order to create a Jewish DEMOCRACY, one had to rid the country of it’s Palestinian inhabitants and ACHIEVE and maintain a Jewish demographic edge.
Last time I checked, American law doesn’t allow for this thought to even enter the lexicon of it’s value system “liberal chief justice” label or not.
Brandeis either hallucinated or flat out lied. Dershowitz on the other hand if what Richard’s interpretation is true, is just loose lipped, albeit, a loose lipped “scum bag”
Richard, I apologize in advance because this is unrelated to the post here, or, maybe it could be, because ALL bloggers need to know this
“But even if we avert our eyes from the obvious inference that the Arab inhabitants of the Holy Land might be the “disease” which Zionists wished to remove from the Holy Land,”
I find it fascinating how a quarter century effort to eradicate malaria and cholera by drying swamps at great cost of lives can be turned into a…war crime. Just like that.
Richard Silverstein says
You don’t get cholera from swamps. You get it from water sources in urban settings that are infected with human waste.
I said nothing about war crimes. That’s yr invention. Typical.
bar kocha, you quote Sabeel Christian Palestinian militants as saying “just as they crucified Jesus 2,000 years ago, they are crucifying Palestinians today”.
If I were a Palestinian Christian, I would likely feel like Israel, or at least the IDF, was “crucifying” my people, just look at the Gaza massacre several months back and the continuing sadistic blockade. A lot of Christians use the language of the crucifixion/passion (among other narratives)in navigating their experience of the world, particularly when it comes to their pain and suffering.
As a Christian, I (personally) don’t particularly relate to this, I think the language of the cross should stick with Jesus’ passion, or this historic Roman method of execution for that matter, but I understand how it is part of Christian metaphor and symbolism, and I “get” its use in this context.
The first clause of your quote is more troubling, “just as they crucified Jesus 2,000 years ago”. Unfortunately, this reductionist reading of the gospel accounts of the crucifixion remains all too prevalent among a good many Christians, including & especially in the West. This simplistic and misleading take on the crucifixion, stupid on so many levels—one being that Jesus and his merry band were Jews and thus the whole us/them paradigm is completely ridiculous right out of the starting gate—is very widespread on the Christian right, and especially among your allies, the Christian Zionists. Liberal Christians, who are much more likely to be highly critical of Israel and even behind BDS, generally do not share in this old gloss & canard.
Re-hashing old-school Christian anti-Semitism may be fun, bar kochba, but it’s basically a distraction from the matter at hand of this blog post. You’re fighting old European “Western Civ” battles with little relevance to the contemporary Middle East and Palestine/Israel.
On a more relevant note, I sure hope that Der Dersh is an embarrassment to most of his Harvard colleagues.
He’s definitely down at the more unhinged pole of the Israel boosters, a scary deranged man. Let’s just say if I were a Palestinian school-child, I wouldn’t want to run into him in a dark alley. That level of hatred for people he doesn’t even know I would think would be hard for one man to bear. If Israel wiped out half of the West Bank (I’m loathe to even speculating about such an unimaginable horror), I am certain that Der Dersh would find a way to rationalize and celebrate the event.
Peter H says
More audacity from the Dersh:
Oy V… this man need more iron in his blood and my homemade chicken soup,, seriously…
dz alexander says
Brandeis might be considered an early example of liberal democratic willing to make an exception of the middle east.[ Dershowitz being the example of where this can end — the thick edge of the wedge, as it were, now that the Israeli establishment is no longer even pretending to liberal values. ]
Just before his visit to Palestine Brandeis had a chat with Balfour in order to clarify the British position in the Versailles negotiations. He was particularly concerned to prevent the Wilsonian “self-determination of peoples” being applied in Palestine.
From Felix Frankfurter’s notes on the meeting —
“telling the people of the East that their wishes would be consulted in the disposition of their future.”
Wow! How progressive! Self determination defined as the empire consulting the people of the East about their wishes for their own future before deciding it entirely in favour of imperial interests. And how interesting that the definition hasn’t changed noticeably at all.