New Stuff: Miller, Avishai and J Street

Dear Friends,

My latest blog piece is now live on Allvoices.com. You can check it out by clicking here.

Who’s “Beyond the Pale?”, Part 1

In a recent op-ed in the Jewish weekly, The Forward, Jewish Voice for Peace was described as being “beyond the pale” because we “support divestment and … urge Congress to heed Carter’s words.” Interestingly, JVP receives a huge amount of support from the great many Jews all across the country and around the world whorabbis-debating.jpg believe we not only embody the spirit of tikkun olam (repairing the world), but are also working more than most for the best interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Be that as it may, let’s examine this rather arbitrary line that the writer of that op-ed, Rabbi Ira Youdovin, draws.

Let’s start with Jimmy Carter. The hysteria surrounding that book has, at least in public discourse, badly obscured the substance. Carter makes an eloquent and clear case that the suffering of Palestinians is intolerable and must end and that it is unrealistic for Israelis to believe they can ever be safe from attacks while that suffering is going on. This is hardly controversial to anyone paying attention to the realities on the ground. Continue reading

Alan Dershowitz: NO SALE, Part 3–Clearing the Fog

Read Part 1   Read Part 2 

I begrudge no one, regardless of their views, the right to speak up and passionatelydershjpgfinal.jpg defend what they believe is right. In no matter is this more important than in the case of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the US role in it.

But Dershowitz’s “contribution” to the debate is destructive to all involved. This is not a court case where the arena is set up for each side to zealously defend their case using whatever means necessary.

Dershowitz’s attack on Carter is built on argumentative chicanery and rhetorical trickery. Most of all, it is all too often a personal attack that doesn’t deal with the facts. In this milieu, we already have more than enough of that. Continue reading

Alan Dershowitz: NO SALE, Part 2–Arab Money

Read Part 1   Read Part 3
There’s an odd schizophrenia in Dershowitz’s broadside on Carter at Gather.com. On the one hand, he is absolutely brutal in attacking Carter, calling him some horrible things and

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making some very serious implications. On the other, he fondly reminisces about

supporting Carter for president and mentions more than once Carter’s admirable work in so many human rights and social aid and justice arenas.

But Dershowitz pulls no punches in building his “case” that Carter wrote his book because he is on the payroll of wealthy Arabs.

Continue reading

Alan Dershowitz: NO SALE, Part 1

Read Part 2 Read Part 3
You really have to give Alan Dershowitz credit. It’s obvious that his success as a lawyer comes from a great talent for building a convincing argument. It issz200_alan-dershowitz.jpg also clear that he understands very well the difference between a convincing argument and a cogent one.

Dershowitz has let loose with both barrels on Jimmy Carter in a blog at gather.com. Dershowitz not only makes the case that Carter is a Jew-hater, but also a supporter of terrorism, an accomplice of “evil” and a dishonest man who tries to turn the world against the Jews because he is paid to do so by Arabs.

That’s Dershowitz’s claim in a nutshell, but he makes it much more elaborate and less stark than that. If he simply summed it up, none but the most reactionary supporters of Israeli policies, like himself, would give it any credibility. Continue reading

Why the A-Word Doesn’t Work

Jimmy Carter’s latest op-ed in the Washington Post starts off with this: “I am concerned that public discussion of my book “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” has been diverted from the book’s basic proposals: that peace talks be resumed after six years of delay and that the tragic persecution of Palestinians be ended. Although most critics have not seriously disputed or even mentioned the facts and suggestions about these two issues, an apparently concerted campaign has been focused on the book’s title…”carter.jpg

Carter has repeatedly said that he titled the book as he did in order to stir discussion. Clearly, while that has happened, the result was not what Carter intended. The debate has been dominated by the title, rather than the substance of his book.

One can debate whether so provocative a title was even necessary. When a former president writes a book about a controversial topic, that usually gathers attention. But even if provocation was needed, this was the wrong way to do it. An outcome where the title became the story, rather than Carter’s points, was entirely predictable, and it’s not because of any “lobby”. The flash point, the easily understood, if misleading headline, always wins out in American discourse.

There was much of merit in Carter’s book. Yes, there were factual inaccuracies and mistakes, although contrary to most of Carter’s critics, many of those inaccuracies were actually favorable to an Israeli point of view. But Carter wasn’t writing a history book or a textbook of any kind. He was relating his personal views, experiences and observations for the most part. In any case, much of this has been lost in the public discourse. Fortunately, the book remains a best-seller, so at least many in the general public are getting a chance to get past the title and the silliness of the public “debate” and judge the book on its own merits. Continue reading