By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Where’s Alan Dershowitz?

Last Saturday, the Boston Globe editorial page criticized Jimmy Carter for refusing to debate Alan Dershowitz at Brandeis University over Carter’s new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” The editorial said in part:

Some of the fury Carter has provoked is so overwrought that it appears to confirm his own overstated contention that any criticism of Israel is treated like heresy by the mainstream media. But it is precisely because of the hyperbole of his critics, and the seriousness of the issues he wants to raise, that Carter should agree to debate that inveterate defender of Israel, Alan Dershowitz.

I agree. So I was a little surprised today when the Globe ran an op-ed by Carter in which he both flogs his book and whines about the way he’s been treated. Carter writes:

[T]here has been a pattern of ad hominem statements, alleging that I am a liar, plagiarist, anti-Semite, racist, bigot, ignorant, etc. There are frequent denunciations of fabricated “straw man” accusations: that I have claimed that apartheid exists within Israel; that the system of apartheid in Palestine is based on racism; and that Jews control and manipulate the news media of America.

Actually, the Carter op-ed isn’t a surprise. It’s the lack of a counterbalance from Dershowitz or anyone else — not necessary under normal circumstances, but necessary because the Globe just got finished applauding Brandeis for insisting on a debate rather than a monologue.

Coming tomorrow?

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


How old is Rocky?


Carter and Dershowitz


  1. Anonymous

    Obviously, Jimmy Carter did not read the extended thread of comments on — of all places — The New York Times web site last week. While I did not read all the comments myself, they were overwhelmingly in his favor. He may take solace in this outpouring of support. Or he may ask himself how deeply he stirred feelings of anti-semitism even among literate readers of The Times. Or both. I, for one, was shocked since the tone of many of the comments was hardly dispassionate and overtly hostile to Israel.

  2. Steve

    I was wondering the exact same thing this morning.Yesterday, the Globe ran a letter about the Carter book by Norman Finkelstein, identifying him only as “a political science professor at DePaul University”. True as far as it goes, but how about adding “who is best known for his works questioning accounts of the Holocaust, featured prominently at Iran’s recent Holocaust denial symposium”.(Not surprisingly, Finkelstein is another of Dershowitz’s antogonists.)

  3. mike_b1

    In some respects, Dershowitz is as bad as the Islamic extremists for whom he has so much spite. His opinion is always right; any dissenting position is automatically evil. Which would be OK, I suppose, if there were any consistency in his positions. He is so knee-jerk pro Israel he cannot possibly see the sins that state commits. And yet he can see his way clear to defend U.S. society’s most oppressed citizens, like OJ Simpson or Claus von Bulow. What a guy.For all his bluster, the next time Dershowitz is nominated for a Nobel prize will be the first. Carter already his on his shelf. It would appear a higher authority than the Boston Globe has spoken.Speaking of oppressed, why is it when the mainstream media refers to black political candidates, it obsessively mentions “the Reconstruction?” Why not just say 1865?

  4. Steve

    Mike – assuming you’re talking about the construct “since Reconstruction” (as in, “so-and-so is the first black senator since Reconstruction”), it’s because it’s NOT “since 1865”, it’s refering to the period AFTER 1865 – really until about the mid-1870s – when blacks first held various elected positions in the post-war south, until southern whites regained political power there.

  5. Anonymous

    Dan, this is silly. Did you read the letters page a day letter which completely skewered the Globe’s missteps with that regrettable editorial. It reads: I’M SURE that Brandeis is just trying to be fair by allowing Carter to speak only if he debates Dershowitz. No doubt, also in the interest of fairness, the next time a blatantly pro-Israel book is published, Brandeis will only allow the author to speak if he agrees to debate Noam Chomsky. And if the author refuses, the Globe of course will run a lead editorial accusing him of not being able to “take the heat.” ALAN MARTINMethuen ————————————-Alan Dershowitz is on more op-ed pages and web sites than I could ever keep track of. He has penned several for the Globe on 06 — all of them on in credibly controversial issues (such as Israels bombing of Lebanon), and not once did anyone demand that a counterargumnt be provided. Dersohowitz has a large a soapbox as anyone I know, even though any well-read person could guess with 95 percent accuracy the content of his pieces. His latest unsubstantiated attack on Norman Finkelstein in a Huffington Post clip is just another example of why the Globe should spare 700 more words from him.Dershowitz has been singing hte same tune for years, and good for him. Carter is expanding the debate and losing quite a bit of skin doing it — lets here what the man has to say, and not insist it go through the Dersowitz filter. Mike

  6. Anonymous

    Finkelstein is neither a holocaust denier, nor was he at the conference. This was speculated (not reported or verified) by Dershowitz who is skewing th e debate in front of our very eyes. Finkelstein, believes that Israel uses the Holocaust which he knows happens (his parents survived it, actually) to justify attrocities against the Palestineans. THanks to the likes of Dershowitz, he his now unjustly painted as an anti-Semite. ((Which Dershowitz tries to do with any fair-minded critics of Israel, including Carter, Walt and Mearsheimer, and Chomsky

  7. Anonymous

    From anon 1:26 p.m.I rest my case.

  8. Steve

    Anonymous 3:43 -Please read my post again. I very carefully never characterized Finkelstein as a “holocaust denier”, nor did I claim he was at the denier’s conference.

  9. MeTheSheeple

    I wish Anon 1:26 would reconsider his basic sets of facts. It’s possible to oppose specific actions by Israel without being anti-Semitic, just as it’s possible to oppose warrantless and illegal wiretapping in America without being an anti-American terrorist scumbag who wants to sign his paycheck over to al-Qaeda.Part of the tragedy of this debate is the perpetuation of what Anon 1:26 believes. Some of Israel’s actions seem to perpetuate discrimination of some of the worst kinds, which is particularly sad because that’s the reason many Jews went to Israel in the first place. Until there can be an honest and open debate, nothing can change.A similar thing came up in the discussion about the Green Party candidate for governor, and I had to try to make a similar point. Just because the woman showed up at a rally opposing the bombing of Lebanese civilians against the wishes of the United Nations does not mean she supports terrorism against Israel.

  10. neil

    So, following the trail of hypocrisy: a.) the Globe agrees with Brandeis that Carter doesn’t provide “balance” by declining to debate with Dershowitz, b.) the Globe agrees with Brandeis when it dismantles the Palestinian art exhibit, because the exhibit did not provide balance, but c.) when it comes to the Globe’s own actions, suddenly this concern for balance disappears, and they go ahead and publish, unbalanced by any opposing view on the same page, Carter’s op-ed. Why, a cynical person might conclude that the Globe’s, not to mention Brandeis’s, concern for balance was a mere disingenuous tactic to deploy on a case-by-case basis against those with whom they happen to disagree, rather than a principle of fair exchange of ideas. As both institutions well know, there needn’t be balance on the same page, with the same number of lines, or at any given art (even political art) exhibit, with the same number (and same size, and same amount of carnage, etc.) of pictures of injured Israelis as Palestinians. To demand that is a reductio ad absurdum ploy whose purpose is to stifle opposing opinion. Carter has every right to decline to debate the self-promoting Dershowitz, and his arguments do not suffer for it. And he has the right to an unopposed (even if “whining”–how about “breathlessly whining” while we’re at it) op-ed. Neither of these affects balance.The question is if balance is available overall, not within every specific instance of expression. As other commenters have pointed out, supporters of Israel generally, and Dershowitz in particular, have plenty of opportunity to opine away on the Globe op-ed pages. Count up the number of Globe editorial and op-eds sympathetic vs not of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, or pro Israeli vs pro Palestinian events at Brandeis, over the last few years, check those numbers for balance, and see who has the grievance.

  11. mike_b1

    Steve, I think the since/after part is semantics.But the larger point remains: why not just put the date?

  12. neil

    Hey what a surprise, Dershowitz gets a rare op-ed in today’s Globe! Can you guess the topic? President Carter’s book? No–that Carter won’t debate him. Dershowitz repeats comments from other sources–“moronic”, “laughable”, “anti-historical”. He says Carter “blustered” (let’s add that to the list with breathless, whining and sneering–maybe we’ll get enough for a new gang for Snow White). He impugns Carter’s motives, associating him with a Sheik known for his “Jew hatred”.Dershowitz takes the stance that Carter is a hypocrite for not debating him, especially since Carter claims to be promoting debate. An outrage!Meanwhile, he spends not one word of the op-ed discussing the substance of Carter’s book. Substantive debates happen in print, over time. Live debates are trite theatrical venues for blowhards. If Dershowitz has a substantive disagreement with Carter, let him make it in print, and quit the grandstanding.

  13. Steve

    It is curious that the Globe didn’t put the Carter and Dershowitz op-eds next to eah other on the same day, especially after the editorial criticizing Carter for ducking the Brandeis debate. Often the Globe runs op-eds side by side when they deal with the same issue. I wonder if it was a condition required by Carter?Not uncharacteristcally, Dershowitz has written reams and reams disageeing with Carter’s book and maybe he didn’t want to make the same points again and again. Neil, if you want Dersh’s on-topic take on the book, there’s this one. (And if you want him to “quit grandstanding” here’s a hint – don’t hold your breath. :-)I have been a fan of both men for many years, and I suspect Dershowitz was once a Carter fan himself. Perhaps that’s why his recent writing is so full of vitriol – maybe he feels betrayed? It’s not an uncommon reaction in the Jewish community.

  14. John

    Now let’s see. Dershowitz is best know for his defense of Claus Von Bulow and O.J. Simpson and Carter for making peace between Egypt and Israel, a peace agreed to by the Israeli government and defended by such principled defenders of Palestinian rights as the late Edward Said. (That last endorsement may go some way in explaining the neocons’ enduring hatred of Carter.)Billy Bulger said it best in his letter to the Globe: “Jimmy Carter is to be congratulated for not having demeaned himself by debating Alan Dershowitz.”In perhaps the most interesting paragraph in his op-ed Carter links his book to war on Iraq, thus:“As recommended by the Hamilton-Baker report, renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are a prime factor in promoting peace in the region. Although my book concentrates on the Palestinian territories, I noted that the report also recommended peace talks with Syria concerning the Golan Heights. Both recommendations have been rejected by Israel’s prime minister.”It is not hard to conclude from this that American blood is being spilled in Iraq, in part because of Israeli rejectionism. No wonder the neocons are so disturbed by the book. It tells the bitter truth.john

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén