You’re Both Right, and You’re Both Wrong!

Shmuel Rosner touches base with the Dershowitz-Phillips debate, designating himself as mediator. Conclusions? Typically, both are right and both are wrong. My opinion is that Rosner is sympathetic to Dershowitz, however, while keeping Melanie Phillips at a respectful arm’s length. Here is his conclusion:

Here’s George W. Bush, from January the 10th, 2008, on the same topic: “It should happen and could happen by the end of the year”. Was Bush also the kind of leader that Phillips would call “lethal for both Israel and the free world”?

Compare to my own:

Israel pulled out of Gaza when George W. Bush was in the White House and Ariel Sharon in the Knesset. Would this today not be labeled “suicidal” by Melanie Phillips?

So Rosner and I are on the same page, which is good news as far as I’m concerned.

Yaakov Lozowick takes a stab, as well. I like Lozowick because he has the deft touch of making criticism sound breezy, even if he’s sticking a finger in your eye. He writes words that make a point without stooping to name-calling. Obama’s more vocal critics could learn a thing or two from him.

I’m of the camp willing to cut the Obama administration some slack on their diplomacy of winning hearts by respectful gestures. I doubt it will work, and I hope that once it doesn’t they’ll recognize the significance of the failure, but I don’t see the harm in trying. Learning through experience is the best way there is. At the end of the day, however, the purpose of the new diplomacy is to have results. By alienating the large segment of Israeli society who are his natural allies, Obama is needlessly reducing the chances of his own success.

So pull up a seat. It’s going to be a long summer. And if you get bored with this debate, try this one.

Black or White? The Dershowitz-Phillips Debate Over Obama

I love the fact that Melanie Phillips can come down on Alan Dershowitz, who has written a trilogy of books in outright support of Israel, for his support of Barack Obama. I applaud Phillips for her steadfastness in defending Israel and Jews from bigotry, and Dershowitz wrote as much in his blog for JPost. His point, I think, was that support of Israel should be bipartisan. Which is why I smile when my more conservative friends ask how I can vote Democtratic and still support Israel. As if one position naturally informed the other.

They don’t, unless we think support of the Jewish state goes hand in hand with social issues like abortion, separation of church and state, minority rights, immigration, scientific research, the economy, etc…conservatives and liberals are split on most of these issues, which do not regard support for Israel in the least. Obama, for his part, hasn’t deviated from previous American policy very much at all. The Bush administration, too, was dedicated (in theory, at least) to the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, as is the Netanyahu government and, yes…even the Sharon government. Tzipi Livni, who actually won more votes than Bibi, is outspoken on the issue.

Israel pulled out of Gaza when George W. Bush was in the White House and Ariel Sharon in the Knesset. Would this today not be labeled “suicidal” by Melanie Phillips? That an eventual Palestinian state should pose no threat to Israel is a position shared by all of them, Obama included. He cannot and will not say, “Let the Jordanians take them in and give historic, biblical Judea to the settlers.”

Is this what Phillips advocates? Dershowitz, in his book The Case for Peace, lays out a point by point peace plan. Has Phillips ever proposed a viable solution to a problem that will not go away until it is resolved? What exactly does all this fiery criticism of Obama’s supposed ransoming of Israel come to? His “roots” on the hard left? Or is he the de facto President Chomsky? What was it about the Bush administration that people think was so much more friendly to the Jewish people and their only country than the current one? Is it that Bush is perceived as having been “tough” on Islamists-Iran-the Palestinians? The man who lost no opportunity to proclaim that “Islam is a religion of peace?” Why was he not the “dhimmi in the White House?”  The Bush years solved nothing. They did nothing to curb the Iranian threat in its infancy, knowing that could be left to the incoming administration.

The Bush years were not the golden years of American-Israeli relations any more than Muslim Spain was a golden age for convivencia. We should stop lionizing George W. Bush just because Obama’s middle name is Hussein.

Support for the State of Israel is a moral position that should have nothing to do with being liberal or conservative, Christian, Jewish or Muslim, religious or atheist, black or white, male or female. It is a moral issue just as women’s rights are a moral issue, just as racism and bigotry are moral issues. It should, as Dershowitz wrote, be a bipartisan issue. There is no other way.

Dershowitz in Rome, the Pope in Israel

Alan Dershowitz was in Rome today speaking about his most recent book, The Case Against Israel’s Enemies, which just came out in Italian. I was there, and I took notes. (You can hear his press conference–in English–here.)

Here’s what he said, or what I felt was worth remembering (for the rest, you can read his trilogy of books on the subject).

1) Israel is a Jewish country in the same way that Italy is a Italian country. That is, it is not a theocracy ruled by halakha, but a liberal democracy whose inhabitants are for the most part Jews. Apparently this is still a hotly debated point.

2) When it comes to Israel, the Catholic Church imposes moral equivalence. This is especially relevant in light of the Pope’s upcoming trip to Israel. Dershowitz spoke at length about the Church’s failure to grasp its own ideas of “reconciliation”, as if the millennial war against the Jewish people by the Catholic Church is a conflict for which both sides must beg forgiveness. Not so, says Dershowitz. This is blatantly hypocritical rhetoric designed to draw a moral parallel between the aggressor and the victim of aggression. Such unwillingness to confront its own sordid history prevents the Church (understood as the Vatican, not the mass of people calling themselves Catholics) from taking a morally relevant side in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The result, as we have seen, is the Pope’s frequent calls for “peace” and “an end to the violence by both sides.”

3) What I will terms Dershowitz’s Two Laws:

a. If Israel’s enemies put down their weapons tomorrow–all of them–there would be peace.

b. If Israel puts down its weapons–all of them–tomorrow, there would be genocide.

Talking to people afterwards, I got the impression that some Catholics felt he had been hard on the Church. I felt he hadn’t been hard enough, perhaps.

Staring Evil in the Eye

Alan Dershowitz recently published his impressions of Durban 2:

Last week I came face to face with evil, as I stood just a few feet away from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. We were both staying in the same hotel in Geneva. He was there to be the opening speaker at Durban II, a review and reprise of Durban I, the United Nations sponsored conference on racism that had turned into a racist hate fest against the Jewish people and the Jewish state. I was there–along with Elie Wiesel, Irwin Cotler and others who have devoted their lives to combating bigotry–to try to prevent a recurrence of Durban I.

Some of us, upon hearing the word “evil”, cringe in fear–not of the evil, mind you, but of the use of such a polarizing term. It’s one of those words that has gone out of fashion. It’s one of those words that has been consistently overused in order to defeat ideological enemies. I remember reading in one of Oriana Fallaci’s post-9/11 books (the ones that turned so much of the world against her, as if she had been the author of the attack on New York) her memory of having “met” Osama Bin Laden in a Beirut hotel lobby in 1982. She described (I’m writing from memory) having looked into his eyes and “known” that she was looking into the eyes of evil: calm, determined, almost laughing eyes.

On 9/11 that memory came hurtling back to her in all its prophetic gloom.