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  • ummyakoub
    ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PLAGIARIST By ALEXANDER COCKBURN, Counterpunch, 9/26/03 http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn09262003.html Let s start with a passage from Alan
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 23, 2003
      By ALEXANDER COCKBURN, Counterpunch, 9/26/03

      Let's start with a passage from Alan Dershowitz's latest book, The
      Case for Israel, now slithering into the upper tier of Amazon's sales
      charts. On page 213 we meet Dershowitz, occupant of the Felix
      Frankfurter chair at Harvard Law School, happily walloping a French
      prof called Faurisson, charged by the FF prof from Harvard U as being
      a fraud and a holocaust denier: "There was no extensive historical
      research. Instead there was the fraudulent manufacturing of false
      antihistory. It was the kind of deception for which professors are
      rightly fired--not because their views are controversial, but because
      they are violating the most basic canons of historical scholarship.."

      You want an example of Dershowitz's canons of scholarship, base
      rather than basic?

      On pages 233-4, he writes, "In September 1970, King Hussein of Jordan
      killed and injured more Palestinians in one month than Israel has
      during three years of responding to the suicide bombing intifada."
      The corresponding endnote reads: "Estimates vary as to the number of
      Palestinians killed during "Black September," with some estimates as
      high as 4,000." His two cited sources for this claim? a Sony movie,
      One Day in September, and a chronology for a high school course
      outline on the Middle East conflict.

      If Justice Frankfurter had fuelled decisions with this kind of
      scholarship he'd have been citing Marvel Comics as useful
      repositories of case law and precedent. If, in writings off the
      bench, he'd used the sort of research procedures displayed elsewhere
      in Dershowitz's Case for Israel he'd probably have been forced off
      the Supreme Court for ethical considerations of a sort that I imagine
      Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers, will soon be pondering in the
      case of Prof. Dershowitz.

      Let me now usher into the narrative an important member of our cast
      in this drama: "From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab­Jewish
      Conflict Over Palestine", a 60l- page book by Joan Peters, published
      in l984. Peter's polemical work strove to buttress the old Zionist
      thesis that the land of Israel had been "a land without people,
      awaiting a people without land". There was no substantial Palestinian
      presence, Peters claimed, before the Jewish return. Initially given
      an ecstatic reception by publications such the New York Times the
      book was soon discredited as a charnel house of disingenuous polemic.
      The coup de grace was administered by Professor Yehoshua Porath in
      the New York Review of Books for January 16 and March 27, 1986.

      Though neither Peter's nor her book appear in the index to The Case
      for Israel, they do get a mention in note 3l of chapter 2, where
      Dershowitz cites the work of a 19th century French geographer called
      Cuinct, and adds, "See Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial (Chicago,
      JKAP Publications, 1984). Peters's conclusions and data have been
      challenged. See Said and Hitchens, p. 33. I do not in any way rely on
      them in this book. "Them" clearly refers to Peters' conclusions and

      This brazen declaration is preceded in chapters one and two by
      wholesale, unacknowledged looting of Peters' research. I have before
      me a devastating comparative archive of these plagiarisms, compiled
      by Norman Finkelstein, author of "The Holocaust Industry: The
      Exploitation of Jewish Suffering" and "Image and Reality of the
      Israel-Palestine Conflict". Here are but four instances, out of no
      less than 20 thus far discovered in the first two chapters alone…

      Over to you President Summers, or will the man so happy to dress down
      Prof Cornel West be more timid when it comes to confronting the
      occupant of the Felix Frankfurter chair?

      Adam Rubin, Jewish Journal, 10/20/03

      "The Case For Israel," by Alan Dershowitz (John Wiley & Sons, $19.95).

      Alan Dershowitz's new book describes an Israel no Israeli would
      recognize, an impossibly virtuous country whose intentions are always
      pure, whose conduct is forever above reproach, and whose rare
      misdeeds can be explained away as accidental. Conversely, the
      Palestinian Arabs (and for that matter, all Arabs) are depicted as
      malevolent terrorists bent on Israel's destruction; every one of
      their deeds is attributed to the basest of motives, every decision a
      result of unremitting hostility, trickery, foolishness, or a
      combination of all three. No reader of Israeli historical scholarship
      or journalism would recognize the simple tale of good and evil, of
      angels and devils, described in the pages of Dershowitz's book.

      Though equipped with the tools of historical scholarship (footnotes,
      primary and secondary textual documentation, etc.) and presenting
      itself as an exploration of the historical roots of the conflict
      between Arabs and Jews in pre-State Palestine and Israel, his book is
      not a serious work of scholarship on the enormously complex struggle
      of two national movements over the same small piece of land. Instead,
      it is the latest in a long tradition of hasbarah, propaganda, that is
      not unlike the material produced by the Israeli Office of Hasbarah in
      years past, or pamphlets issues today by various pro-Israel advocacy
      groups in the United States.

      In seeking to "make the case for Israel," Dershowitz, a professor of
      law at Harvard and prominent defense attorney, has abandoned any
      pretense of balance, nuance or objectivity, all of which are guiding
      values for professional historians. That he is more interested in a
      one-sided polemic than a sober historical exploration is evident in
      the title of the book (would anyone interested in the political
      history of the United States rely on a book titled "The Case for
      America?"). It is also evident in its structure — each chapter title
      is framed as a question (Did Israel Start the Six-Day War? Were the
      Jews Unwilling to Share Palestine?) whose answer is predetermined
      from the outset, and then divided into sections on "the
      accusation," "the accusers," "the reality" and "the proof."

      Dershowitz is not to be criticized for writing a polemic, for that is
      what he set out to do, and he presents his case with passion. But the
      question is: Is such an approach helpful at this critical time?

      Most important, it is evident in the book's many factual errors,
      misinterpretations of evidence and selective quotations. To take but
      one example: Dershowitz resurrects the old, discredited canard that
      the Arabs themselves are primarily responsible for the departure of
      approximately 750,000 Palestinians during and immediately after the
      1947-1948 war, and therefore bear most of the blame for the creation
      of the refugee problem. To bolster his case, he quotes the prominent
      Israeli historian and author Benny Morris: "In some areas, Arab
      commanders ordered the villagers to evacuate, to clear the ground for
      military purposes or to prevent military surrender."

      Dershowitz also uses evidence from Morris to argue that the Arab
      leaders of Haifa encouraged their community to leave. What emerges
      from Dershowitz's selective use of Morris' book is an account of the
      refugee problem that places responsibility for the problem squarely
      on the shoulders of the Palestinians themselves.

      However, Dershowitz neglects to mention Morris' conclusion, based on
      detailed research and stated quite clearly in several of his books
      (including those cited by Dershowitz), that the majority of
      Palestinian refugees were in some cases expelled by Jewish forces and
      in others fled out of fear of expulsion or massacre by those forces.
      On the very same pages Dershowitz cites to make his argument for
      Palestinian culpability, Morris writes the following:

      "During the second stage, while there was clearly no policy of
      expulsion, the Haganah's Plan D clearly resulted in mass flight.
      Commanders were authorized to clear the populace out of villages and
      certain urban districts, and to raze the villages if they felt a
      military need. Many commanders identified with the aim of ending up
      with a Jewish State with as small an Arab minority as possible. Some
      generals, such as [Yigal] Allon, clearly acted as if driven by such a
      goal.... Ben-Gurion clearly wanted as few Arabs as possible to remain
      in the Jewish State. But there was still no systematic expulsion
      policy.... Yet Israeli troops ... were far more inclined to expel
      Palestinians than they had been during the first half of the war. In
      Operation Yoav, Allon took care to leave almost no Arab communities
      along his lines of advance."

      Clearly, Morris' argument is considerably more complicated and
      morally ambiguous than the simplistic version Dershowitz presents.
      The latter has violated a cardinal rule of historical scholarship: an
      author is responsible for weighing all evidence at his or her
      disposal before making a conclusion, even if some of that evidence
      contradicts one's own argument or bias.

      I suspect that Dershowitz will not be troubled by objections raised
      by scholars. His account of Israeli saints and Palestinian villains
      is not aimed at historians or academic specialists. It is also not
      intended for Israelis, for whom firsthand experience of their country
      provides a degree of skepticism and nuanced understanding utterly
      lacking in the book. Rather, it is aimed at American Jews who are
      deeply attached to Israel and seek intellectual ammunition and moral
      reassurance at a time of crisis. Given the brutal terrorist attacks
      on buses, in restaurants and cafes, an economy on the brink of
      collapse, fierce and unrelenting criticism of the country and an
      unmistakable increase in anti-Semitism throughout much of the world,
      it is perfectly understandable to seek solace and solidarity in
      Dershowitz's impassioned plea on behalf of the Jewish State. And yet,
      despite the many problems confronting Israel, the author's embrace of
      simplistic, black-and-white explanations should be resisted. It may
      be noble to raise a stirring defense of Israel, but not under the
      guise of serious scholarship. Like a long marriage in which each
      partner comes to know and love the other for who they really are,
      warts and all, concern for Israel should be based on an honest,
      balanced assessment of the country's strengths and weaknesses,
      achievements as well as shortcomings. To their great credit, Israeli
      scholars, journalists and intellectuals have been providing such
      assessments to their fellow citizens for at least two decades. It is
      unfortunate that professor Dershowitz has sought refuge in the
      soothing pieties of a previous era.

      Alan Dershowitz will speak on Oct. 22 at the Nessah Educational
      Cultural Center, 142 S. Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills. $15-50. 5:30
      p.m. (reception), 7 p.m. (discussion). For tickets, call (310) 246-

      Adam Rubin is assistant professor of Jewish history at Hebrew Union
      College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.



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