Professor Dershowitz Strongly Endorses Amona

Susie Dym,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Susie Dym
Susie Dym serves as spokesperson for Mattot Arim, with over 20 years of expertise on "peace-for-peace" issues.
עמונה. הבוקר
צילום: חזקי ברוך

The Jerusalem Post today highlighted Professor Alan Dershowitz’s strong endorsement of Amona on its front page, on 15 December.

The Jerusalem Post’s new editor favors a leftwing editorial stance much to the dismay of many readers. So not surprisingly, Dershowitz’s  lovingly reported (“the famed jurist”, etc.) comments ostensibly blasted “the Amona bill” as being a horrific idea.  However, that was just the “pshat” – the surface. The deeper meaning of Dershowitz’s statement on Amona is the opposite: endorsement.


First, make no mistake -- Professor Dershowitz is genuinely dedicated to Israel, he is exceptionally courageous and intelligent and outspoken  about many public affairs,  and he has done the Jewish people in general and the state of Israel in particular, including israel’s hawks, many a good turn. Long may he continue.

Nonetheless, what to do, Professor Dershowitz is also a peacifist --  a strong adherent of the dovish precepts which have wreaked havoc in the Middle East including -- as a popular TV show host said not long ago – rendering the entire Israeli left practically unelectable for the last couple of decades.

This is why any scathing criticism from the left by Dershowitz – say of the Amona bill – is actually a ringing endorsement.

Here is a prime example from 2012. At that time, pro-Palestinian Haaretz gushed that what they called the 'Dershowitz Formula for Resuming Talks With Israel’ had been adopted by Abu Mazen (Abbas). The “Dershowitz Formula”, Haaretz enthused, was first published by “the famed Harvard jurist” (ring a bell?) “ in a June 3, 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal. The formula states that “Netanyahu should now offer a ... settlement building in the West Bank as soon as the Palestinian Authority sits down at the bargaining table, and the freeze will continue as long as the talks continue in good faith”.  Professor Dershowitz then “secured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ agreement“ to the formula and he then congratulated himself, or Haaretz did, on breaking the diplomatic stalemate.

Four years later, we all know what a disaster that 'Dershowitz Formula'  was. In fact this is one of the only things on which right and left agree today. The right never favored the idea of freezing  ourselves back to Abba Eban’s “Auschwitz borders”. And as for the left – even as far-gone a peacifist as Hillary Clinton has, albeit belatedly, admitted  that the demand for a settlement freeze was a mistake – that the American hard line against settlements “did not work” for various reasons.

Dershowitz himself, again to his great credit, has been the first to admit other classic leftwing bloopers that he has made. He said  recently that he, who twice supported Obama, now knows that Obama is to be blamed “for the breakdown of the world order”.  Dershowitz now rightly (pun intended) says that Obama has been one of America's worst presidents in terms of foreign policy and that Obama will “go down in history as a Chamberlain. He has managed to alienate every single country in the Middle East, except for one: Iran”.

Dershowitz’s mistakes even regarding his Amona position, are also easy to see. Dershowitz says, according to the Post,  “that Israel has to take into account world opinion.... If the Amona bill is passed, two things will happen: One, the International Criminal Court, which is now reluctant to take jurisdiction, will take jurisdiction....Second, if the Amona bill were to be passed in the next two weeks, the president of the United States would have no choice but to say ”I’m not going to veto the French Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements.“

But note that the above two problems, if they happen, will not be caused by the Amona bill at all. The logic of acquiescing to a deeply desired bill is easy to explain to any leader of any democratic country who understands internal politics because s/he has her or his own to deal with. So, the two problems Dershowitz is referring to will, if they happen, be caused, quite simply, by the likes of Dershowitz, Mandelblit and other Amona bill opponents -- who by their public criticism, whether egged on by PM Netanyahu or not – it makes no difference --  are practically coercing Obama to do the wrong thing and similarly for the ICC.

Dershowitz then publicly criticized 3  premises of the settlements regulation bill:

“There is no justification under Israeli law for creating illegal settlements. So that’s the first thing that should stop.” 

“Second of all, settlements on land owned by Palestinians should be stopped.”
”Third, it’s not enough to take land and give payment for that. That doesn’t satisfy international law.”

    Here too Dershowitz is very wrong. Not because his positions do not have merit. They are a possible legal approach to a complex problem. Dershowitz is wrong because he does not recognize and/or accept, that the Government of Israel’s job is to select, from among many possible legal approaches including Dershowitz’s, the one legal approach that best fits Israeli interests, as seen by the Israeli electorate. Dershowitz is wrong because he did not acknowledge or even mention that there are other legal positions, taken by other Israeli legal experts advising those in power, which are just as legitimate as his positions. More legitimate, in fact, because in a democracy, the people in power are the ones charged with selecting the right legal approach to use. Note that 25 (!) senior Likud leaders endorsed this bill!

Dershowitz has not drawn conclusions from his mistakes, past and present. And he cannot be expected to. If he did – if he moved right -- he would no longer have impact. His impact is on the liberal community and again – he deserves a great deal of credit for that.

The moral: Prof. Dershowitz is a sincere and valuable friend of Israel and a great asset to Western civilization – someone who actively keeps it civilized. He is a brave, forthright and industrious public figure who stands out relative to almost all others, and a superior intellect. However, when he shoots out a leftwing policy recommendation – particularly anything to do with settlements – we Israelis should keep smiling, but ignore him. Or wiser still, do – or encourage Israeli leaders to do -- the exact opposite of what Professor Dershowitz recommends.

Long live Amona - and all her counterparts.  They are essential to Israel.