Prof. Alan Dershowitz Should Rethink His Attack on Me

The writer stands behind his opinion that the claims against Israel advocate Dershowitz should not be defended on grounds of anti-Semitism.

Ronn Torossian,

Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian
INN:RT

Saturday night on Zev Brenner’s radio show, Professor Alan Dershowitz lashed out at me for my opinion piece published week ago which suggested that  “Defending Dershowitz is Not a Jewish Issue.”  Since my piece was published on Arutz Sheva and other sites, I have been inundated with messages of support from leaders of American Jewish organizations, and others. What I wrote was – and is – absolutely warranted.

As the allegations against him and his client, Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex criminal, remain in the headlines, The Jewish Week quoted my op-ed in part, and Dershowitz referred to that Jonathan Mark column as “scandalous.” Mark mentioned my commentary that, “I do not believe he is a good spokesman for Israel or the Jewish people,”, and “As a proud Jew, I find the argument that [Dershowitz] should be protected because of his Jewishness to be despicable.”

I stand by my comments – as well as the part which Mark, unfortunately, did not include; that Dershowitz deserves fair play as far as the complaint that was levied against him which rests on an accusation and is not proven.

During the interview with Brenner, Dershowitz complained that The Jewish Week called me for comment, but he seems to have missed the fact, which Mark’s article stated, that my comments were made online and in email format.  The Jewish Week did not talk to me.  He asked for an investigation into, “What is [t]he relationship between Ronn Torossian and  The Jewish Week?” Let me make it easy –  I own a PR agency, I am involved in Jewish communal life and write on Jewish issues. A Jewish newspaper quoted me, in part.  There’s no conspiracy between me and this Jewish newspaper.

Dershowitz’s attack against me on the Zev Brenner program was virulent.  He called me a “liar”, and said that I was “lying through my teeth;” then added I was a “despicable human being.” He admits that we have never personally met, making his visceral hatred for me stunning.   The opinion of so many against him must hit him hard, understandably so.  Alan Dershowitz, self-proclaimed defender of Jews, is being told that his Jewish credentials do not entitle him to a defense for an alleged crime that has zero to do with Jewishness or Israel. I was and am right about that, unless it is proven that these allegations were meant to discredit him and are false.

On Zev Brenner’s show, Dershowitz condemned those who are “making false accusations in order to benefit themselves.”  That is precisely what he is doing to those of us who are standing up to him in the court of public opinion.  He is lashing out like a bully, and attacking anyone who challenges him, and it is not a good idea.

In an ongoing debate between him and Ed Whelan of the National Review, Dershowitz wrongly accused Whelan of needing to be corrected, and attacked Whelan’s “sloppy research.”  The National Review retort notes that Dershowitz is “the one being “sloppy”—which, I suppose, makes it more plausible that a similar sloppiness accounts for his mischaracterization of the allegations” and I agree.

The fact that one of America’s finest legal eagles is attacking those who challenge him in the court of public opinion so violently is shocking.

Dershowitz cannot manipulate and control both the court of public opinion and the court of law. Further, as academic Bonnie Goodman recently noted, he should not be believed simply because he is a powerful man, and it is wrong that “there is more public sympathy for Dershowitz than for the victim, especially among the Jewish community, because of his public profile and advocacy work he is the one believed.”

The National Review, Goodman, and I are right.

Dershowitz claimed I have a vendetta against him and I am “trying to get even.” Had he done the most basic amount of research, he would have found numerous articles I wrote which praised him, including “Words of Wisdom from Alan Dershowitz and Elie Wiesel” "NJDC: Ignore Alan Dershowitz" and “Jews Should Join Alan Dershowitz and Reject NJDC Adelson Accusation.” Further, my lifelong Rabbi, and someone I write of as my hero, Rabbi Avi Weiss is someone Dershowitz recently backed in a high-profile dispute. 

However, Dershowitz has a history of attacking those who challenge him or his clients.  In 1993, he made headlines for seeking to appeal a case “to the Supreme Court into a sweeping constitutional attack on laws that protect rape victims' sexual privacy.”  In the current case in the headlines, The Guardian reported that “Dershowitz, recruited private investigators to carry out inquiries..." while claiming she displayed a “fascination with marijuana”.   

Dershowitz is unable to bully everyone – as he’s seen from the libel lawsuit filed against him recently by the alleged rape victim’s lawyers (which he threatened to file first.)  

Rather than engaging in low blows, Alan Dershowitz should focus his energies on the allegations against him.  He’s accused of committing serious crimes, and facing lawsuits and legal problems.  

Dershowitz is going through a crisis and this issue appears to be affecting his self-control.  I said it before and will say it again - I find claims implying that accusations against Dershowitz are about anti-Semitism, or are somehow a Jewish issue, to be absurd. Whether the accusations against him are found to be true or not, this is simply not a Jewish issue.

He owes me an apology.

Editor's Note: After the article appeared, the two issued the following statement, included at writer's request:

Alan Dershowitz: “I responded in anger to what I believed were inappropriate comments by Ronn Torossian and I withdraw any comments that were hurtful."

Ronn Torossian: “Alan Dershowitz has worked his entire life for Jewish interests and his deep love for Jews and Israel is clear.”

“While we have political differences, we agree that both of us have legitimate points of view and demonization is inappropriate,” said Alan Dershowitz and Ronn Torossian.





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