- Alan Dershowitz
author of The Case For Israel (Wiley 2003). He is one of the nation’s foremost appellate lawyers and a Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. His articles are published in The New York Times and other publications. His books include Chutzpah, The Vanishing American Jew, Why Terrorism Works, Shouting Fire and America Declares Independence.
- Norman Finkelstein
The author of four books including The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. His writings have appeared in prestigious journals such as the London Review of Books, Index on Censorship, Journal of Palestine Studies, New Left Review, Middle East Report, Christian Science Monitor and Al Ahram Weekly. He currently teaches political science at DePaul University in Chicago.
- Scarborough Country
Scarborough Country on September 8th, 2003. Dershowitz states he will donate $10,000 to the Palestinian Liberation Organization if a historical fact in his book The Case For Israel can be proven to be false.
On MSNBC’s Scarborough Country on Sept. 8 2003, renowned appellate lawyer, Harvard Law professor and author Alan Dershowitz says: “I will give $10,000 to the PLO…if you can find a historical fact in my book that you can prove to be false.” The book Dershowitz refers to is his latest work The Case For Israel.
Today author and professor Norman Finkelstein takes him on and charges that Dershowitz makes numerous factual errors in his book. Dershowitz denies the charges. Finkelstein teaches at DePaul University and is the author of four books including The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering. [Includes transcript]
A 15-year-old unarmed Palestinian boy was killed and 14 Palestinians were wounded when Palestinian militants and Israeli forces clashed in the southern Gaza Strip today. 20 Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the Rafah refugee camp shortly after midnight after five mortar shells were fired at a bloc of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip. No injuries or damage were reported.
Meanwhile Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is scheduled to meet U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell today to discuss the U.S. position on the route of the so-called “security fence” in the West Bank.
Prior to the meetings, Shalom said during an interview on the fence that Israel should “do everything to defend” as many West Bank settlers as possible, and said the purpose of the fence was to defend Israeli citizens.
Meanwhile, Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting the Israeli government spends at least $560 million a year on subsidies, infrastructure and education for 220,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The figure does not include military spending in those areas.
Haaretz said Israel has spent at least $10.1 billion on the settlements since capturing the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.
Successive Israeli governments have refused to disclose how much they spend on settlements. Haaretz said it compiled the figure after three months of research, including interviews with dozens of government officials and experts.
And yesterday President Bush told the 58th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York: “The Palestinian cause is betrayed by leaders who cling to power by feeding old hatreds and destroying the good work of others.”
This comes days after the UN voted 133 to 4 to condemn Israel’s decision to “remove” Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia voted against the measure.
AMY GOODMAN: Why don’t we start with you laying out the thesis of your latest book, The Case for Israel.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I wanted to write a progressive liberal case for the two-state solution, which I think that most Israelis favor and have favored for a long time. I dedicate the book to professor Aaron Barak, the president of the Israeli Supreme Court and for a reason. Because I argue in the book that no country in history faced with comparable threats both external and internal has ever tried to hard to comply with the rule of law. I compare Israel favorably to the United States. In this regard: its court intervened actively in support of Palestinian rights. Even during fighting in war time during the Jenin events the Israeli courts enjoined the Israeli military from engaging in certain actions which in its view violated the rule of law, The Israeli Supreme Court had banned the kind of rough interrogation techniques that are now being employed by the United Nations in Guantanamo Bay. Israel is the only country in modern history that has never deliberately and explicitly retaliated against those who attack its civilian targets. For example, during the Six Day war in 1973 war, the 1948 war, it’s own residential areas were bombed by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, 1600 shells lobbed into west Jerusalem. Israel never bombed Aman, Damascus or Cairo, they have of course bombed areas of Beirut in the process have killed innocent civilians. That is deliberately targeting civilians and going after the way the United States did in Iraq, which I am very critical, but nonetheless with the United States did going after military targets, knowing that they’re going to kill civilians in the process. And so myself, I oppose the settlements, always opposed the settlement since 1967 I opposed the occupation. I think Israel made in my view a terrible view in my view what it should have done is made border adjustments pursuant to U.N. resolution 242 which I actually consulted with Justice Goldburg, he was the ambassador to the U.N. was involved in the process of that 242 resolution, which presupposed some territorial adjustments. The problem is Israel should never have occupied people. Land is different from people. And today I think unilaterally what it ought to do eventually is if it can’t kind the peace partner to make some unilateral changes, small ones. End the settlements, in fact my peace proposal is that Israel ought to have schedule for ending settlements. That is a schedule for saying on so and so date the settlement ends conditioned on best efforts by the Palestinians to end terrorism. That would create incentive to ending terrorist acts. By the way you never condition anything on the end of terrorism, that gives terrorists a veto. What you condition it is on making good faith efforts and if we can get Israel to end the settlements and occupation and Palestinian leadership to stop using terrorism as a tactic, I think finally something could have happened in 1917, two-state solution, in 1937 when the commission recommended noncontiguous Jewish homeland and Israelis accepted it and the Arabs rejected it. In 1947 when the U.N. allocated that portion of Palestine that had majority of Jews in it to a Jewish state, and the portion of Palestine that had Palestinian majority in it to an Arab state, could have had a two state solution. Could have had a two state solution in 2001 and 2000 when Barak and President Clinton offered to be sure noncontiguous state on 90% of the west bank and capital and Jerusalem with the 35 billion dollar refugee package. When Arafat responded by violence, came back to the table maybe we’ll negotiate for more. The two-state solution is inevitable. It’s going to happen. The only question is how long it takes to happen. My hope is that we can have a reasonable serious debate about the future; about the rights and wrongs I think the rights and wrongs on both sides. But I’m nervous because I heard from my debating partner in the beginning what sounded like it was going to be simply an ad hominem attack on me as to whether I’m qualified to teach at Harvard. I would hope we could elevate the discussion keep it on the merits. I won’t attack Mr. Finkelstein on his merits of his position; let people read his book and judge for themselves. And if he would refrain from personal attacks on me, let people judge the book on the merits I think we can move the ball forward have a reasonable serious debate. I think it would be interesting to know where we agree and disagree. What facts we share in common, what facts we have different views on and whether they’re empirical and could be subjected to reasonable resolution, where we have moral disagreements, I really think that in the end today you read the news about Israel is other good news. There is a prisoner exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel which Israel would get back one person, civilian who was captured by Hezbollah in exchange for Israel giving back 400 or so prisoners. There’s movement forward. Let’s not destroy that movement forward by getting involved in meaningless ad hominem discussion, let’s see if we can elevate the debate see if we can really move forward to the two state solution that I think virtually everybody in the world today wants.
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Alan Dershowitz author of The Case for Israel Norman Finkelstein, your response.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I appreciate Alan Dershowitz’s seriousness at least in these remarks. I have no intention whatsoever of getting involved in an ad hominem debate with Mr. Dershowitz. I’m interested in the facts. I was asked to come in and discuss his new book. I went home, purchased one copy, in fact I purchased two copies. I read the book very carefully. I did what someone serious does with a book. I read the text, I went through the footnotes. I went through it very carefully. There’s only one conclusion one can reach having read the book. This is a scholarly judgment, not an ad hominem attack. Mr. Dershowitz has concocted a fraud. In fact Mr. Dershowitz has concocted a fraud which amazingly in large parts, he plagiarized from another fraud. I found that pretty shocking, shocking coming from a Harvard professor. I find it shocking coming from any professor.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: We have to cut off I just want to warn everybody here that although I’m not a litigious person when you make allegations …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I’m proceeded to …
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: When you make allegations of plagiarism that’s a … It has great legal implications. And I can’t obviously sit quietly by and …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: You shouldn’t. I agree. Well that’s Let’s look at the evidence.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: … of plagiarism …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Let’s look at the evidence. In the first two chapters of your book you extensively reproduce all of Joan Peters’ pages in her book. I read it carefully. In 1984 …
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Show me one sentence.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I am going to show you I think I have …I made available the charts to you.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: You’ve shown me nothing. Let’s start with that. That’s a categorical lie. What you’re hearing now on radio is a claim that Mr. Finkelstein made available to me certain charts. That is a lie.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mr. Dershowitz, I think you had about five minutes’ time I wasn’t looking at the clock. If we’re going to have a civil debate you’re going to have to remain …
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: It’s not going to be about me let me be very clear about that.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I have no interest in you, Mr. Dershowitz. None at all. I’m interested in the scholarship, I’m interested in the facts, I’m interested in your book. In 1984 one Joan Peters published a book called From Time Immemorial the book was universally recognized by serious scholars to be a fraud. Without wanting to toot my own horn I’m widely recognized as the person who exposed the fraud. I know that book inside out. I read it at least four times, I went through all 1854 footnotes. I started to read your book, Mr. Dershowitz, I then came to chapter one footnotes 10, footnote 11, footnote 12, footnote 13, footnote 14, footnote 15, footnote 16, all of the quotes are from Joan Peters. They’re so from Joan Peters that you have a long quote here from Mark Twain on pages 23 to 24. I turned to Joan Peters page 159 to 60, identical quote from Twain with the ellipses in the …
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Is the Twain quote wrong?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: … with the ellipses … let me finish sir. They’re in the same places. The identical quote from Twain with the ellipses in the same places.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: It’s been quoted, as you know.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mr. Dershowitz I …
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: What’s your point?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Let me finish …
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I would ask you a question. Is it a direct quote? Is it an accurate quote of Twain? Did Twain say …
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Dershowitz the way we can have a civilized discussion here is that each person will get a chance to make their point and won’t be cut off.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: You have a nearly full page quote from one William Young a British consul from May 1839.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Is it an accurate quote?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I’m going to finish, sir. On page 18 of your book. I turn to Joan Peters page 184, the identical quote with the ellipses I’m holding it up for the camera perhaps they can see this is the length of the quote.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Is it an accurate quote?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It’s in the identical place. Last point. I’m not going to go through chapter two where there are 29 plagiarisms from Joan Peters.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: To be very clear, it’s not plagiarism to quote Mark Twain correctly.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Except that you cite Mark Twain not Joan Peters. I’m a professor, sir. I know what plagiarism is.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: And plagiarism is … What is your definition of plagiarism?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: We’re not going to get involved [ ] in that now.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: You’re using a word you’re not going to tell us what you mean by it?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: The documentation, you know what we’ll let everybody else decide for themselves because documentation one last example. I want to make it very clear, in Joan Peters’ book From Time Immemorial she coins a phrase. The phrase is “turn speak”.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: She borrows it from …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Sir, I’m sorry she coins the phrase, you see you don’t know what you’re talking about that’s pretty terrible. She coins the phrase, “turnspeak,” she says she’s using it as a play off of George Orwell which is all listeners know used the phrase “newspeak.” She coined her own phrase, “turnspeak.” You go to Mr. Dershowitz’s book he got so confused in his massive borrowings from Joan Peters that on two occasions I’ll cite them for those who have a copy of the book, on page 57 and on page 153 he uses the phrase, quote, George Orwell’s turn speak. Turn speak is not Orwell, Mr. Dershowitz, you’re the Felix Frankfurter chair at Harvard, you must know that Orwell would never use such a clunky phrase as “turnspeak.”
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I like it.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, maybe you like it. Evidently Joan Peters liked it. But George Orwell never heard of it to the best of my knowledge.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to break for stations to identify themselves. 60 seconds. When we come back Professor Dershowitz can respond. We’re talking to Professor Alan Dershowitz author of a new book it’s called The Case for Israel and debate with Norman Finkelstein. You’re listening to Democracy Now! Stay with us. [Music Break]
More music here from the late Frank Lowe as we continue our debate on Alan Dershowitz’s new book called The Case for Israel. Alan Dershowitz is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. In discussion with Norman Finkelstein who teaches at DePaul University in Chicago. His book Image and Reality: Israel Palestinian Conflict and The Holocaust Industry professor Dershowitz your response to this very serious charge of plagiarism.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: It’s a frivolous charge, of course. What happened was this. Of course I read the Peters book, anybody writing a book on the Middle East anybody would. I also read The Myths and Facts a book put out originally by AIPAC then published separately and independently probably 30 or 40 other books which use the same quotes, they’re very extensively used quotes by Mark Twain because Mark Twain traveled to Palestine, Mark Twain is a very prominent American writer. What he saw in Palestine is very relevant to the debate. He saw barren lands, didn’t see a Palestinian community. He saw empty roads and he writes extremely vividly and one scholar is entitled to read a book as I did, Peters’ book and to find quotes in the book and check them against the original quotes. And find them to be accurate and then do what I did, I don’t know whether or not Mr. Finkelstein read footnote 31 that appears on page 246 which says, the research of French Cartographer Vital “Cuinct” relied on for the I may have mispronounced it.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: No, you misspelled it.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: See Joan Peters from Time Immemorial then Peters’ conclusions and data have been challenged and then I quote from Said and Hitchins, I do not in any way rely on them in this book. In other words, what I did, and it’s very common for scholars to do that. Is I read her books, I read Mr. Finkelstein’s criticism of them I came away from enough doubt about the conclusions that although I don’t regard the Peters’ book in any way as a fraud, I think it was well intentioned effort to recreate and very difficult to recreate the very difficult to recreate events that existed in 1890 and 1900. Did I find her quotes which have been as I said used extensively by Facts and Myths and other publications, to be quite compelling. This book and none of my writing, I don’t purport to be independent historian who goes back to the Middle East and reads original documents. I am making a case. I’m doing what a lawyer would do and what lawyers do is they find sources, they check the sources, I had a research staff that obviously checked the sources. I haven’t heard a word from Mr. Finkelstein suggesting that the quote from Mark Twain is not an accurate quote. If Peters had made up a quote that hadn’t existed. Mark Twain had never written and then somebody borrowed the quote without going to check back on whether Mark Twain had said that, obviously that would be a serious charge. I’ve done nothing like that. The vast majority of my book deals with current situations. In fact I start my book by saying there has to be a statute of limitations on grievances. I don’t try to base The Case for Israel on the fact that Jews lived in Palestine before the birth of Jesus or the fact that Jews were expelled from what is now Israel in 72 A.D. and I argue that Palestinians can’t really make the case against the two-state solution based on historic claims that go back 100 years but first couple of chapters which are quite brief, I recount never purporting to be creative or original in the recounting, I recount what has been accepted as traditional history. That includes the fact that the land particularly what is now what would be western Palestine, what was the part of Palestine allocated to Israel in the 1947 division was land that before the Jews got there in the first aliyah in1880 in the beginning of the 20th century was land that was coming into disuse. Now these are controversial, by the way, there are some Palestinians who say you shouldn’t trust Mark Twain. Some Palestinians say you shouldn’t trust the various English travelers. Reasonable people could disagree about that. I quote those sources, I lay them out there for people to read so that they can evaluate the claims that Israel was established on the basis of colonialism. I make the following argument which I’d love to hear Finkelstein rebut. You can’t be a colonialist country unless another country sent people there as soldiers to take over that country. For example, France sent its settlers to Algeria. England sent settlers to India. Dutch and other countries sent their settlers to parts of Africa with guns to take over. What did the Jews do during the first and second aliyah. They escaped from countries that were persecuting them. They escaped from Russia and Poland, Lithuania. They didn’t come at the request of those countries, if you claim people were colonialist you have to say on whose behalf they were working. The Jews weren’t working on behalf of Russia or Poland or Lithuania. They came as refugees, much like American Jews came as refugees to America. The ones who went to Palestine went with rakes and hoes to try to build the land, to try to join collectively with the local population. They did in fact improve the land as the result of work projects in western Palestine many Arabs from eastern Palestine moved there, I cite statistics, Peters cites the same statistics in fact showing that in various the fact that I can’t remember the exact numbers, Jews moved there attracted 300 or 400, you may disagree with it. But those are the data that I presented and we can reasonably disagree with that. Now, I just want to make one point about Mr. Finkelstein’s research. I don’t want to get ad hominem I don’t want to get into this debate. But for example I do quote Mr. Finkelstein at one point I think only once in the book. That is he makes an argument in Edward Said’s collection that to judge the 1947 partition the only fairway to do it is to look at either all of Palestine, which I don’t know whether he needs to include what became Jordan, trans-Jordan or not or you have to look at what became of Israel after the 1948 war. I disagree with that. What I say respectfully in the book is that when you look at the fairness of the 1947 petition, you only look at the land that was allocated to the state of Israel. In that land Jews were clearly a majority according to the U.N. census to be sure once the Arab nations attacked Israel, once the Palestinians attacked Israel there was a war and Israel secured more land which was regularized by a crease fire in 1949. What Mr. Finkelstein does is he counts that land and says, look how much they got and look at the proportion of Jews and Palestinians that’s not the correct demographic to look at. So we can have reasonable …
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s get the response to that.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Stay away from the ad hominems and get to the merit of the case.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Professor Dershowitz, I’m not a professor at Harvard but I do …
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: You seem to resent that a lot.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I do teach elsewhere. And when we discuss issues like falsifying information, plagiarizing, lifting whole cloth from other books I’ve never heard that called ad hominem for a serious scholar and a serious academic, those are very fundamental issues.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: But when they’re false …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: If they’re false then you dispute them. To characterize them as ad hominem seems really out of court for a professor …
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: You said I don’t deserve to teach at Harvard that sounds pretty …
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Dershowitz let Norman make his case.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: You raise that issue then I’ll address it then returning to the substantive issues of your book.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: First, tell me why I shouldn’t be teaching at Harvard.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: On page 207 of your book you say that “to deliberately misinform, miseducate, and misdirect students is a particularly nasty form of educational malpractice.”
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Of which I accuse Noam Chomsky and others.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I consider what you have done in the book to be a paradigmatic example of misinforming, miseducating and misdirecting. Allow me to finish.
AMY GOODMAN: Let him make his point.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Allow me to finish Mr. Dershowitz I’ve been very respectful of your time. On page 213 you discussed Holocaust fraud by Robert Faurisson and you write, quote, “There was no extensive historical research” referring to his book.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That’s right.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: “Instead there was the fraudulent manufacturing of false antihistory”.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That’s right. And Chomsky wrote as you …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Please don’t bring in Mr. Chomsky. He can defend himself. We’re talking about you and your book. It was the kind of deception referring to Faurisson’s book that let me quote clearly, “for which professors are rightly fired”.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I stand by that.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: “Not because their views are controversial,” let me underline this again, “but because they are violating the most basic canons of historical scholarship.”
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me respond to that. You compare me to Faurisson …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I didn’t ask …
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: You made up the story that the Holocaust …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I’m referring to your standards. I have no interested in Faurisson now I’m talking about your standards. “To miseducate, misinform and misdirect to violate the standards of historical scholarship are grounds for expulsion.”
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It’s not an ad hominem argument it’s using your standards.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: No, it’s an ad hominem…
AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to interrupt here because I want to get to some of the main points of your book. Also we were intrigued watching Scarborough Country when you debated Sam Husseini, the offer that you made. Let’s play it for a moment.
(On Scarborough Country:)
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Tell you what. I will give $10,000 to the P.L.O. in your name if you can find historical fact in my book that you can prove to be false. I issue that challenge, I issue it to you, I issue it to the Palestinian Authority, I issue it to Noam Chomsky to Edward Said, every word in my book is accurate and you can’t just simply say it’s false without documenting it. Tell me one thing in the book now that is false?
AMY GOODMAN: Okay. Let’s go to the book. The Case for Israel $10,000.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me tell you what he came up with. This is really fascinating if you show the rest of the clip. He said on television, I saw a photograph or a videotape of Israeli soldiers aiming their guns at that, whatever 12-year-old boy who was caught in the cross fire and killed and I actually upped the offer to $25,000 if he could produce a photograph or if he could produce proof that he had seen that. Why was I so confident? Because German television did a very thorough study of that one particular incident. Let’s just spend one minute on that. What happened is when that child was killed in his father’s arms, the nation of Israel went into almost universal mourning, it was as if they were sitting Shiva on one of their own children. A child had died it looked as if possibly Israeli soldier might have shot him. When you contrast that to how Palestinians respond to a child dying in Israel from terrorism dancing in the streets, it’s a very striking comparison. Then German television did a study they found out that the Israeli soldiers were positioned in a way that it was physically impossible for the bullet from Israeli soldier to have hit that Palestinian child and it was virtually certain that the bullet had come from a Palestinian gun. In my view that’s not particularly relevant when a child is caught in cross fire it’s a tragic death resulting from the crossfire. Which bullet actually hit I am was not relevant. But that was the answer that he came up with.
AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, first of all I want to clarify the monetary issue. Is it now $25,000?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: $25,000 on that issue.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Just on that issue. In general $10,000.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me be clear…
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: We just saw the tape. I think it’s clear.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I made it very clear I said afterward a material willful distortion…
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I don’t want afterwards. Professor Dershowitz it’s on tape. We just saw it.
We’re not talking about a spelling mistake. We’re not talking about a minor …
AMY GOODMAN: All right. Let’s talk about …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Serious material. Let’s start. Number one, I’m going to first deal with just concrete facts which are not particularly controversial, which can easily be confirmed. On page 80 of your book you write, according to Benny Morris between April and June…
AMY GOODMAN: Benny Morris is an Israeli historian.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I have a copy of his book here, which I’ll hold up. 2,000 to 3,000 Palestinians were made refugees during the second stage of the flight. Here is the book in front of you. Page 256, can you read what the sentence says.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me read you what I say in my book, in some areas Arab …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Please don’t read the whole paragraph.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me put in the context. Chomsky says that Morris does not believe that any Arab leaders told the Palestinians to leave. I say, in some areas I quote from Morris,” in some areas Arab commanders ordered …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I’m not disputing that.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: … to clear the ground for military purposes to prevent surrender. More than half dozen villages, et cetera, were abandoned during these months as result of such orders. Elsewhere in east Jerusalem in many villages around the country, the Arab commanders ordered women, old people and children to be sent away out of harm’s way. Indeed psychological preparation for the removal of the dependents had begin in 1947-48 when the Arab high command and Arab League periodically endorsed such a move in contemplating the future of Palestine.” And I say therefore, Chomsky is simply wrong when he says that there’s no evidence, he says again in another point, nobody today believes that any of the refugees were told to leave. And so I dispute that by quoting Morris himself.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: You seem to have an obsession with Mr. Chomsky but he’s not here. I’m here. Let’s look at the next sentence…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Actually, I thought I was going to be debating Chomsky today. I was surprised …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Let’s be serious.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I agree with you.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Read the next sentence. Morris estimates in your book I have right in front of me. Next sentence.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Morris estimates that between 2,000 and 3,000 Arabs fled their homes during this phase of the Arab initiated fighting.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Can you please read what Mr. Morris wrote?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: You’re talking about …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Please read what he wrote?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: If I have the whole book I will find for you if you want to take time.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Can you read the sentence?
AMY GOODMAN: I’m looking at page 256 of Benny Morris book, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: He is referring to phase two now same one as you. Go ahead.
AMY GOODMAN: “Altogether about 200,000 to 300,000 Arabs fled their homes”.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: There is a big difference between 2,000 and 3,000 and 200,000 and 300,000. You could check this many times, Mr. Dershowitz. But you are really going to have to pay the $10,000. I hope you allow me to earmark it for Jenin. I would like to give it to Jenin.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: We’re talking about a variety of …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: This is not the O.J. trial. This is not the O.J. trial. We’re not going to play a game.
AMY GOODMAN: Is your point… what you are saying Norm Finkelstein is that in Alan Dershowitz’s book The case for Israel he says 2,000 to 3,000?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It’s 200,000 to 300,000.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to that?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I argue that 700,000 Arabs …
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Don’t change the subject, Mr. Dershowitz.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I’m not changing the subject.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: We’re talking about phase two. April through June. Please don’t play this game.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Obviously, the phrase 2,000 to 3,000 Arabs refers either to a sub-phase or is a typographical error.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: This is why lawyers have a bad reputation. Because you are playing a game now. I’ve read the book twice. In fact I’ve read the book six times because I’ve read Peters four times and yours twice that makes six times.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Did she make this point?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Of course.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to interrupt a second because stations have to make their point which is they have to identify themselves. We’ll come back if you can stay with us for the show, we will continue this discussion our next guest we’ll ask him to wait. We’ll do the interview after the program I think this is too important. We’re talking to Alan Dershowitz. His new book is called The Case for Israel he is debating Norm Finkelstein his books are the The Holocaust Industry and the Israel-Palestine Conflict. Stay with us. [MUSIC BREAK]
AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman and we’re talking with Professor Alan Dershowitz his new book is called The Case for Israel. Mario Cuomo writes, “Alan Dershowitz’s detailed and penetrating analysis of the issues that fuel the continuing war in Israel should be read by everyone.”
Norman Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry has a recommendation on the back by Raul Hilberg who is the leading Holocaust historian in this country. And he says, “When I read Finkelstein’s book at the time of the appearance I was in the middle of my own investigations. I came to the conclusion he was on the right track I refer now to the part of the book that deals with the claims against Swiss banks.” I’m jumping ahead. He says, “I am by no means the only one who in the coming months or years will totally agree with Finkelstein’s breakthrough.”
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me focus on the 2,000 or 3,000. This is such an obvious point. What is the context I’m arguing. I’m arguing that lots and lots of Arabs in distinction to what Chomsky said were told to leave by their Arab commanders. Obviously it’s in the interest of that argument to maximize the number who would leave. Only an idiot would deliberately minimize the number who’d leave.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s refrain from ad hominem attacks.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I’m talking about myself now. I would have been an idiot had I used 2,000 when actual number was 2 to 300. If you wanted to make an accusation you would say instead of saying 2 to 300. He said 4-500,000. Remember the argument, the argument I’m making is that lots of the Palestinian refugees left, left as the result of orders from their leaders during this period of time. So my incentive if we take Mr. Finkelstein would be to exaggerate the number. Now he accuses me of reducing the number by 100 fold. Obviously there are only two possible explanations.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: You asked me for factual errors.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Why would anyone make a factual error…
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I don’t know.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That would hurt their position. It’s the stupidest allegation.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mr. Dershowitz with all due respect with all due respect I cannot understand for the life of me why someone with your reputation and with your accomplishments would cobble together a fraud. That to me is the most perplexing question.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me ask you a direct question.
AMY GOODMAN: We only have ten minutes. We want to go to content.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Am I right or am I wrong that it would serve the interests of my argument to over state rather than to understate that figure?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mr. Dershowitz there is no argument there. There are no arguments in your book. Your book is a collection of fraud, falsification, plagiarism and nonsense.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to close both microphones.
We’re going to go through this in a civilized way over the next ten minutes. You have laid out a challenge Professor Dershowitz on Scarborough country the program on MSNBC you said if anyone can find factual error in the book we’re not talking spelling errors, that you will give $10,000. Sorry?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I’m prepared to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: Now I’m going to interrupt. This is a major challenge You put it out on television. Norman Finkelstein you have laid out one error. Whoever is interest it served you did respond. You said 2 to 3,000 quoting /citing Benny Morris, the Israeli historian in fact he said 2-300,000 Arabs.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me make the point that I do make an argument.Here is the argument I make. I make the argument that the issue is a complex one of the refugees that in fact many of the refugees of the 700,000.
AMY GOODMAN: But, you’re citing Benny Morris. He made a different point than you did.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: He made a point that strengthens my argument.
AMY GOODMAN: But it’s wrong in your book. Whether or not it strengthens.Whether or not it serves your argument.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me be very clear.
If you make- I do make an argument. My argument it’s very serious, that many of the Palestinians were told to leave by the commanders. If in fact 200,000 were told to leave instead of 2,000, that strengthens my argument. That is the argument that I make. If the book says 2,000 to 3,000 there were only two explanations. Either it is a typographical error or I have to check the book obviously, I was referring to a smaller phase. But it would be ridiculous for anybody to understate when the purpose would be to overstate.
AMY GOODMAN: Okay. Let’s leave that and go to another point.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: What I’m going to do for the interest of time and trying to be respectful of Professor Dershowitz is I’ll simply quote your statements in the book one after another slowly. You can simply stop me and say, I can prove that or I have the evidence. Okay? Simple. Page 206 you write, “Israel is the only country in the Middle East to have abolished any kind of torture in fact as well as in law.”
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Let’s start with that one. The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories has a website. I follow it quite closely. I went to the website and I checked under the heading for torture. I would ask again Amy Goodman rather than myself to simply read the first sentence for the latest issue of that and if she wants to continue down.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s called B’Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in Occupied Territories.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Please keep in mind he said, Mr. Dershowitz said “in fact as well as in law”.
AMY GOODMAN: The first headline says, “Torture. Interrogation by torture is absolutely prohibited by Israeli and international law. Despite this, Israeli security forces breached the prohibition and torture Palestinians during the interrogation.”
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I don’t agree with that. We have a reasonable dispute about that. What Israel does and what Israel did until 1999 was what the United States is now doing on Guantanamo Bay. That is they put people in uncomfortable “shabach” positions, they put hoods over their head, often foul smelling hoods, they play loud music, there’s a cover story in the Atlantic Monthly this month which talks about rough interrogation techniques. It describes what the United States is doing and it says that Israel used to do that, some possibility it continues to do it. That’s simply not the kind of torture that international law prohibits and in fact my point is, in Jordan torture is routine, in Egypt it’s routine.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Definitely.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: The Israeli Supreme Court already took an extraordinarily courageous decision in 1999, it’s online, in which Justice Aharon Barak said that as democracy we must try terrorism with one hand tied behind our back but in the end we have the upper hand. Because we comply with the rule of law. Israel is to be commended for its attempt to regulate and control the torture of ticking bomb terrorists.
AMY GOODMAN: You stand by your statement that they do not torture. Norman Finkelstein....
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: And that the Supreme Court has abolished it and if anyone were to engage in an act that gave the possibility of torture they would be in contempt of court
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mr. Dershowitz.
AMY GOODMAN:You have six minutes. Less than six minutes to go.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Amnesty International, whom I know you think is an untrustworthy source, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem they all reach the same conclusion.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: and they’re wrong.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Israel still continues to practice law.
You can say they’re wrong but let’s be clear. Sir, I’m not going to debate-
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: What do you define as torture?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I’m not an an expert in the topic.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Certainly not. Yet you’re making accusation.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I don’t make the accusation, Mr. Dershowitz you’re confusing things. I go to the mainstream respected human rights organizations and I look at what they say.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me talk about Amnesty.
AMY GOODMAN: You have a number of points here. We have five minutes to go.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I need to respond…
AMY GOODMAN: You did respond. You have 30 seconds to respond.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Amnesty international-
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I am quoting B’Tselem.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: …recently said that Aharon Barak should not receive an international prize because he doesn’t believe in human rights.
He is one of the greatest advocated of human rights, they also-
AMY GOODMAN: Alan Dershowitz let me ask you a question.
I’m going to interrupt because you’re on another point. B’Tselem, you just think it’s wrong. Norman Finkelstein, next point. We have four minutes to go.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Number two, you write on page 126 “there is no evidence that Israeli soldiers deliberately killed even a single civilian in Jenin.”
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Now, Mr. Dershowitz, I looked carefully at your book. You don’t like Amnesty International.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I’m a member and contributor to Amnesty International.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: and you don’t particularly like B’Tselem
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: If I were an Israeli I’d belong to B’Tselem. So don’t characterize my views, you don’t know my views.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I read your book. Or the book you purport to have written.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Now you claim somebody else wrote it?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I hope so. For your sake I truly hope you did not write this book.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I proudly wrote it.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I think the honorable thing for you to do would be to say I didn’t write the book, I had no time to read it. I’m sorry.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I wrote every word of it.
AMY GOODMAN: Okay, you made the point about Jenin and whether or not the Israeli soldiers-
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Deliberately shot a civilian.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Let’s quote Human Rights Watch. They put out an extensive report on Jenin. Now, Human Rights Watch, you no where in the book mention, no where–Let’s see what Human Rights Watch concludes, quote, “there’s prima facie evidence that Israel committed, quote, war crimes in Jenin.” Further, quote, I want everyone to listen carefully, “many of the civilian killings documented by Human Rights Watch are mounted to unlawful or willful killings by the IDF.” Please listen to the words. Willful killings. And then …and then…
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I’ve listened to the words and I deal with this very directly in my book.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Then Human Rights Watch copiously documents multiple cases of willful killings by Israel. What did Mr. Dershowitz write? “There’s not a single case of” -
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: There’s not a single case of- Not only in Jenin
Let me tell you why I make my point. Because there is absolutely no incentive for the United States or Israel or for any other democracy ever willfully to kill an innocent civilian. Every time an innocent civilian is killed it hurts Israel, hurts it domestically and-
Let me finish my point, It hurts it internationally. Every country engaged in urban guerilla warfare will inadvertently kill civilians. But the very idea that an Israeli soldier who are trained in the idea of the holiness of arms, who get better training about avoiding civilians-
AMY GOODMAN: We have one minute.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Who are punished for civilians…
AMY GOODMAN: Let Norman Finkelstein respond, you are making the point that in general you wouldn’t think they would-
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: A very lovely Bar Mitzvah speech.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That’s a little ad hominem, I would think.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Human Rights Watch wrote, quote, “among the civilian deaths were those of Kamal Zgheir” listen carefully “a 57-year-old wheelchair bound man who was shot and run over by a tank on a major road outside the camp on April 10 even though he had a white flag attached to his wheelchair.” That sounds pretty deliberate to me, Mr. Dershowitz.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: If it’s true.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: If it is true? The whole world is lying only Joan Peters tells the truth.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: First of all, Joan Peters has never written about this issue. This issue is one where not only Israeli military but United States has investigated Jenin, the United Nations has investigated Jenin.
Some of the-
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Did they make up that example? Let’s get this clear. Did Human Rights Watch make up that example?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: No, that was-
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mr. Dershowitz this is disgraceful. You’re shaming your institution.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Not a single one!
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Did Human Rights Watch make that up?
Did it make it up!
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me continue.
AMY GOODMAN: On that note, we’re wrapping up the program. Professor Dershowitz let me ask this question. Did you investigate the human rights watch report?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Of course I did. I read it.
AMY GOODMAN: You found that to be incorrect.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Not only that the United States government found that to be incorrect.
AMY GOODMAN: On that note we have to wrap up the show.
Thank you both for being with us. Alan Dershowitz The Case for Israel Norman Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry. You decide. Our website www.democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, thanks for joining us.