Espanol / English

Middle East Near You

A wake up call for Israel’s liberal supporters

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz [Twitter]
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz [Twitter]

The excellent American journalist Eli Clifton revealed last week that notorious anti-Palestinian Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has taken a $120,000 “consulting” fee from the Gatestone Institute. This “right-wing” think tank is regarded by many as extremely “anti-Muslim”.

Dershowitz has long been known as an active apologist for Israeli war crimes, covering up some of the worst of Israel’s racist actions against the Palestinian people. His efforts have earned him the sobriquet “Israel’s lawyer”. Somehow, though, he has also gained something of a reputation in US mainstream media as a “civil libertarian” and advocate of “free speech”, even though he clearly does not care about either the liberties or the right to freedom of speech of Palestinians and their supporters.

For example, he demanded that Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV should reshoot a documentary that its journalists produced in 2016-17 exposing the actions of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. Despite the fact that the film gave an ample amount of screen time to pro-Israel voices, it was not enough for Dershowitz; he insisted that it should be re-edited to add even more interviewees who support Israel including, you won’t be surprised, himself.

The pressure that this influential lawyer was able to exert on the Emir of Qatar seems to have worked; Al Jazeera did not broadcast the film, due to “national security” concerns in the tiny Gulf State. It was left to The Electronic Intifada, Orient XXI and Al Akhbar to release a full copy of the film online simultaneously earlier this month.

Read: How Israel weaponises anti-Semitism to block Middle East peace

Although Dershowitz also has a reputation as a leading supporter of the Democratic Party in the US, this is being questioned increasingly. His services seem to be available to the highest bidder. It’s true that he was a supporter of Hillary Clinton (one of the worst and most unpopular Democratic presidential candidates in history), but he has also been an active supporter of Republican President Donald Trump since he took office in January last year.

As Eli Clifton put it, Dershowitz has “spent the first two years of the Trump administration defending the president against the possible threat of impeachment, attacking critics of the White House, supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s controversial nomination to the Supreme Court, and lambasting the Iran nuclear deal.” Thus do the contradictions of liberal Zionism become ever more apparent.

While Israel’s despised ambassador to London, the infamous propagandist for war crimes Mark Regev, has in recent years put more and more emphasis on the supposed “progressive case for Israel”, the political realities make this narrative less tenable all the time. One of the most recent polls shows that some 64 per cent of Israeli Jews — such polls in Israel routinely exclude the state’s Arab Palestinian citizens — not only disagreed with the latest ceasefire with Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza, but also thought that the military should have bombed the enclave even more, regardless of potential civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza celebrated the ceasefire as a vindication of the resistance policy of strong repercussions for Israel’s latest military invasion of the coastal territory.

Read: Hamas seeks ceasefire with Israel without ‘political prices’

It is becoming harder and harder for self-styled liberals to defend their support for Israeli war crimes and racism. A graphic illustration of that reality came earlier this month in Los Angeles.

While the results of the US midterm elections were still coming in, noted Hollywood film producer Jason Blum attended a film festival to receive an award. Blum is one of Hollywood’s biggest producers, responsible for such films as Get Out, BlacKkKlansman and The Purge series.

He used his acceptance speech to criticise President Donald Trump for his attacks on the media, encouragement of rising nationalism and the “dog whistle politics [which] are rampant, and anti-Semitism [which] is on the rise.” As is quite common for Hollywood liberals, he was using his public platform to criticise the president for his blatant racism and stoking of fascist and white supremacist currents in the US.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Russia's President Vladimir Putin (not seen) after their bilateral meeting in Helsinki, Finland on 16 July, 2018 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

US President Donald Trump [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

However, instead of being cheered by the crowd, as you might have expected from a group of LA liberals, he was loudly booed and heckled to the extent that he was not even able to finish his speech properly. Why? Because he was speaking at the Israel Film Festival. It seems from the video footage of the event that large parts of the audience were fans of Trump’s racism.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who actually pays attention to the realities of Israeli racism and the delusions of “liberal” Zionism. Israel as a state is so racist that even the last leader of the supposedly left-of-centre “Labour” Party, Isaac Herzog, warmly welcomed Trump’s election win back in 2016.

The crowd heckled and shouted over Blum’s words with comments about loving Trump. “Reality TV star” Yossi Dina — an Israeli who describes himself as LA’s “pawnbroker to the stars” – invaded the stage, assaulting both Blum and one of the hosts while attempting to physically remove the award-winning producer. Instead of removing the people who were disrupting the proceedings, as well as the violent Dina, the hosts responded by capitulating to their demands. Blum was ushered off swiftly, supposedly in order “to protect him”.

This uproar was a stark illustration of the contradictions found among the “progressive except for Palestine” liberal Zionists. Zionism is an inherently reactionary, violent and illiberal ideology. It is time for liberals to ditch it for good.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

Categories
ArticleAsia & AmericasInquiryIsraelMiddle EastOpinionPalestineUS
The Palestinian History Tapestry: Exhibition and Panel Discussion