Everyone knows all the jokes about the lying scumbag lawyers who talk out of both sides of their mouths and get paid for it. That’s pretty much Alan Dershowitz to a T. Last week, when it appeared Richard Goldstone would not attend his grandson’s bar mitzvah due to pressure from the South African pro-Israel Zionist community, Dersh was the civil libertarian. All sympathy and concern. Now that Goldstone has won been resoundingly vindicated and the community withdrew its threats and promised to behave itself and Goldstone has announced his participation in the ceremony, Dersh changes his tune and engages in one of his patented vicious, lie-strewn attacks.
Someone ought to tell the defense attorney this is not moot court. YOu don’t get to represent one side one week and the opposite side the next as if it was Moot Court. This is the real world where people (all except Dersh’s uber-Israel supporters) expect a certain level of consistency.
Before you read farther, you may want to review Doron Issac’s excellent summary of all the important documents, statements and developments in the Goldstone South Africa saga. It will prepare you for the lies that follow:
So now it turns out to be Richard Goldstone – author of the notorious Goldstone Report – who is politicizing his grandson’s bar mitzvah. Jewish authorities in South Africa didn’t “ban” Goldstone from the synagogue at which his grandson was being bar mitzvahed, as Goldstone and his supporters had alleged. A small group of protestors had said they would exercise their right of expression to picket Goldstone. Though they clearly had the right to do so, most Jews in South Africa and elsewhere – including me – were uncomfortable with the idea of picketing a grandfather attending his grandson’s bar mitzvah. It was Goldstone who decided not to attend and instead to publicize the matter.
First, the leadership of the South African Zionist Federation (not “a small group of protestors”) promised protests at his son’s bar mitzvah ceremony. YOu can argue till you’re blue in the fact that this doesn’t constitute banning. But it does. Judge Goldstone is a careful, sensitive, proper individual who would never dream of causing a disruption of his grandson’s simcha. Such threatened hooliganism effectively rendered him persona non grata in South Africa’s Jewish community. Goldstone had no choice but to decline to attend.
Now, it is true that Dersh, being the insensitive scumbag that he is, when faced with such an eventuality at his own grandson’s bar mitzvah would jump right into the fray and dare the protestors to disrupt. And when they did he would relish it, come outside the shul to debate them. In so doing of course he would focus all the attention on himself and detract from the dignity of the day and his grandson’s ceremony. Thankfully, Goldstone is a more mature personality and didn’t want this for his own kin.
It is another lie to claim that Goldstone publicized the matter. You’ll notice that Dersh presents absolutely no proof of this. In fact, it was a South African progressive website having no connection to Goldstone whatsoever which first published notice of the bar mitzvah imbroglio. Judge Goldstone never encouraged me or any of the many people who campaigned about this to do so. In fact, he specifically said he was not requesting that anyone do so and led all of us to believe that he was at peace with the idea of not attending.
The South Africa Board of Deputies have now persuaded the protestors to pick a different time and place to show their disdain for Goldstone. The matter should have been put to rest, with Goldstone quietly attending the bar mitzvah. But Goldstone won’t let it go. He has attacked the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, who was instrumental in working out a compromise where the protests would be called off and Goldstone would agree to meet with Jewish leaders. Goldstone escalated the dispute by writing a letter to the local newspaper complaining that “the Chief Rabbi would so brazenly politicize the occasion of my 13-year-old grandson’s bar mitzvah to engage in further personal attacks on me.”
Once again here either Dershowitz is lying or is simply ignorant of the chronology of events. It was Chief Rabbi Goldstone on April 21st, who wrote a piece in the newspaper reaffirming his extreme distaste (“…in my opinion, he has done so much wrong in the world”) for Judge Goldstone that spurred the latter to reply. And ALL OF THIS, the chief rabbi’s article and Goldstone’s reply on April 22nd happened BEFORE the agreement with the Board of Deputies which was announced on April 24th (if you don’t believe me read Doron Isaac’s chronology which lays out all the dates). As a defense lawyer arguing a case, Dersh ought to understand the importance of chronology in explaining events of a case. Yet he seems to be oblivious in this case.
In fact, I would argue that Rabbi Goldstein’s disdainful shot at Goldstone is what persuaded cooler heads in the community that a compromise was necessary and the leadership needed to back down. So much for Dershowitz’s command for the facts. In fact, I’d say Dersh never met a fact he couldn’t twist.
Here’s another distortion the propagandist raises in describing the Rabbi’s position as expressed in his April 21st article:
Was the Chief Rabbi obligated to remain silent about the report until after the bar mitzvah?
The rabbi on numerous previous occasions had made his extreme distaste for Goldstone and his Report known. So if he indeed wished for a compromise the rabbi would lose nothing by withholding expressions of personal distaste for the judge. But Goldstein couldn’t do that and so forced Goldstone to defend himself and his reputation.
Is it not enough that he curbed those who wanted to protest in front of the synagogue?
Once again, by getting the chronology of events wrong, he credits the rabbi for something he had not yet done. There was no compromise in place when Goldstein wrote his article and when Goldstone responded. No protest had yet been curbed.
Here is some of the most self-serving poison of Dershowitz’s column:
It is Goldstone who is using…his “jewishness” as a shield against criticism of the Goldstone report.
On the contrary, it is the pro-Israel ideologue who has used Goldstone’s Jewishness as a cugdel against him. It was none other than Dershowitz who accused Goldstone of being a moser, someone who betrays his fellow Jews (thereby making him a target of punishment). It was Dersh’s friends who accused the Report of being a “blood libel” and as evil as anything the Nazis ever perpetrated against the Jews. Israeli leaders invoked the Holocaust to describe the supposed damage the Report would do to the Jewish people. They did all this at least in part to counteract the impact Goldstone’s Jewishness might have on adding credibility to the Report.
Judge Goldstone did his job as a jurist in preparing this Report. Not until the viciousness of the attacks took over did he talk at all about his Jewishness. His enemies made this an issue, not him.
Since I helped organize the group of progressive rabbis who wrote a letter of support for Goldstone, it’s important to note this noxiousness:
A group of rabbis, many of whom have long records of anti-Israel activism, authored a “Rabbinic letter” to Goldstone congratulating him on his grandson’s bar mitzvah and using the occasion to make virulently anti-Israel claims, including the blood libel that Israel deliberately targeted innocent Palestinian civilians without any military purpose.
Every one of these 38 rabbis have a long record of progressive activism in favor of Israeli-Palestinian peace. Which is not at all the same as “anti-Israel activism.” In fact, I’ll pay Dershowitz real money if he can produce any statement by any of them that is truly “anti-Israel.” Further, the claim that Israeli troops deliberately killed civilians has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by testimonies from soldiers themselves who fought in Gaza which were published in Haaretz. Goldstone himself reaffirmed these stories by interviewing survivors of such attacks. Israel itself was offered a golden opportunity to put out its version of events but notably refused to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission. Now, unless Dershowitz wishes to call the IDF soldiers and Haaretz themselves as virulently anti Israel, he has a serious problem.
There is another interesting aspect of Dershowitz’s statement above in which he adds the addendum “without any military purpose.” Clearly, Dershowitz is attempting to argue that killing civilians WITH a military purpose is acceptable. This is an astonishing notion that flies in the face of international law.
Here’s another bald-faced lie:
…Virtually every credible academic who has studied the report has determined its findings to be unfounded and false.
Another characteristic of Dershian rhetoric is to make a patently overblown claim providing no proof whatsoever. Literally scores of human rights analysts and academic experts in the field have actually read the Report and found it to be sound. Of course, there are Israeli apologists who find the Report to be flawed. But “virtually every credible academic?” This is absurd and Dersh knows this but just doesn’t care.
Here is another statement that deliberately misunderstands the purpose of the rabbinic statement:
These bigoted rabbis, who have no expertise in military matters, are prepared to contradict the military expertise of one of the world’s most experienced counter-insurgency military experts…
Frankly, I find it astonishing that a Jewish layman would characterize any rabbi as “bigoted,” especially without any foundation for the charge. If they are bigoted they are bigoted in favor of truth, justice and morality–things Derhowitz wouldn’t recognize if they jumped up and bit him in the a*@. Time was when rabbis were honored and respected by lay Jews. When I was growing up it would be the height of bad manners to diss a rabbi in such a fashion. Further, it wasn’t the purpose of the rabbis to pass on military affairs or tactics. Instead, the rabbis were making judgments about the moral issues involved, which indeed was within the scope of their expertise.
Here Dershowitz breaks all bounds of decency:
These “rabbis for Hamas” have no shame and no credibility.
The statement never made a single expression of support for Hamas. Indeed, it allowed for the fact that Gazan militants may have committed war crimes, a finding of Goldstone as well. Alan Dershowitz has often dishonored the truth. But this odious calumny is about the lowest he has ever sunk.
One final comment on Dershian overstatement:
Richard Goldstone should not encourage rabbis who agree with it to use the bar mitzvah as a sword against the report’s critics…
Since I was the blogger who devised the idea of asking rabbis to write this letter I want to set the record straight. Richard Goldstone did not encourage me or any of these rabbis to write their statement. He never did. Any contrary claim is an abject lie. I never consulted with Goldstone during any of this affair.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.