Jews boo Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz in Manhattan Superior Court in 2011. (AP Photo)

A guest on a panel that followed the screening of a pro-Israel documentary the other night, Alan Dershowitz was booed.

The famed criminal defense attorney, author and strong defender of Israel was booed by other Jews, from both left and right, most loudly by the right.

There were almost 700 people in the Harrison Auditorium in the Penn Museum and the hecklers were no more than a half-dozen, but it illustrated a small  fracture in the Jewish community, which is not as monolithic as some believe.

Like most Americans, most Jews are centrists. But there are extremes.

Dershowitz caught the most flak from the hard-line Zionists, who believe that since God gave that land to the Jews, no compromise should be permitted, it might even be sacrilege. When Dershowitz said Israeli settlements on that land impede peace, he was booed.


The film was titled “The J Street Challenge” and it was more than a challenge.

It was an attack on J Street, a hard-left Jewish organization that calls itself the “political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.”

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, called it a “attack-umentary: Stop mudslinging, deal with real challenges to Israel's future.”

I have no doubt J Street is pro-peace. So was United Kingdom Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

J Street believes in a two-state solution in the Mideast and that the settlements on the so-called West Bank (actually Judea and Samaria), are an obstacle to peace.

Dershowitz agrees with J Street on those two key issues.

I agree, too, although Palestinian Arabs have no more “right” to the entire West Bank than does Israel. The two parties have competing claims.

Dershowitz strongly departs from J Street  on Israel’s security. Dershowitz demands Israel’s security be protected while J Street is willing to make concessions that will put Israel’s future at risk.

Take your pick. J Street is correst, hopelessly naïve, allows the Palestinian narrative to trump the Jewish narrative, is willing to risk Jewish lives in pursuit of the chimera of peace or actually despises Israel. Some on the far left do, especially in academia.

More than disagreement, Dershowitz said that J Street partners with sworn enemies of Israel, doesn’t oppose a nuclear-armed Iran, takes heavy funding from Israel-hater George Soros, does not support Israel as a Jewish homeland, consistently opposes Israeli policy and lies.

J Street seems more dedicated to creating a 23rd Arab state in the Mideast than supporting the world’s only Jewish state.

J Street is so one-sided it reminds me of BDS – Boycott, Disinvest, Sanction -- anti-Israel movement that seeks to punish “colonial” Israel for its policies. The problem is, much of what they say is untrue, gross distortions or wild exaggeration. I’ve written about BDS, such as here

It’s gotten to the point where Palestinian Arabs feel they don’t even have to make a case for statehood.  To them, that’s prima facie, self-evident.

So they devote their energy to attacking Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish homeland.

And J Street is an accomplice.

One angry member of the audience screamed that Jews have a right to live wherever they want to, even in Hebron on the West Bank.

Dershowitz countered they have a right to live anywhere, “But they don’t have a right to call it Israel.”

If Dershowitz believe Jews have a right to live anywhere, here’s forgetting something.

Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (now in the 9th year of his four-year elected term that ended in 2008) unequivocally  stated Israelis will not be welcome in the new Palestinian state.

And yet Israel is accused of apartheid and Israel is accused of racism and Israel is accused of ethnic cleansing.

Peace is a long way away.  It’s not helped by those unwilling to compromise and those willing to compromise too much.