Professor Alan Dershowitz responded on Tuesday to a canard by Roderick Balfour to The New York Times that Israel's policies are responsible for worldwide anti-Semitism.
In an article for the New York-based Gatestone Institute, Dershowitz wrote that Balfour's views "are simply wrong both as a matter of fact and as a matter of morality."
Balfour holds the position of Earl of Balfour, which was created for his great-grandfather's brother, Lord Arthur Balfour. The latter was the British Foreign Secretary who authored the Balfour Declaration, whose 100th anniversary the Jewish People will be celebrating this coming November. The Declaration made public and confirmed the British support of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It was officially accepted by the League of Nations on July 24, 1922 and was embodied in the mandate that gave Great Britain temporary administrative control of Palestine.
Significantly, when the United Nations took over from the failed League of Nations in 1945, it assumed all of the latter's obligations, as specified in Article 80 of the UN Charter.
The current Balfour argued in his letter that the "growing anti-Semitism around the world" is actually Israel's fault: "The increasing inability of Israel to address [the condition of Arabs in Judea and Samaria], coupled with the expansion into Arab territory of the Jewish settlements, are major factors in growing anti-Semitism around the world." He stated that that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "owes it to the millions of Jews around the world" who suffer anti-Semitism, to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.
In response, Dershowitz wrote that this "benighted" position has no logical, historic, or sociological basis:
"Anyone who hates Jews 'around the world' because they disagree with the policy of Israel would be ready to hate Jews on the basis of any pretext," he wrote. "Modern day anti-Semites, unlike their forbearers, need to find excuses for their hatred, and anti-Zionism has become the excuse de jure.
"Have there been growing anti-Chinese feelings around the world as the result of China's occupation of Tibet? … Do Europeans of Russian background suffer bigotry because of Russia's invasion of Crimea? The answer to all these questions is a resounding no. If Jews are the only group that suffers because of controversial policies by Israel, then the onus lies on the anti-Semites rather than on the nation state of the Jewish people."
In any event, the Harvard law professor wrote, "no Israeli policy should ever be decided based on the reaction of bigots around the world. Anti-Semitism, the oldest of bigotries, will persist as long as it is seen to be justified by apologists like Roderick Balfour."
Balfour's letter does not mention the other half of the Israeli-Arab equation: the unwillingness of the Palestinian Authority leadership to accept Israel's repeated offers of concessions, including even statehood, or the other Arab entities, many of which perpetrate or threaten terrorism against Israel. As Dershowitz concludes, "It's all Israel's fault, according to Balfour, and the resulting increase in anti-Semitism is Israel's fault as well."
Roderick Balfour ends by stating his unwillingness to participate in the Centenary Celebration of the Balfour Declaration unless Israel takes unilateral action to end the conflict. That's OK, writes Dershowitz, although he is sure that had he been alive, Lord Arthur Balfour would have been happy to come: "Let the Celebration of the Balfour Declaration go forward without the participation of Roderick Balfour. Let Israel continue to offer a peaceful resolution to its conflict with the Palestinians. And let the Palestinians finally come to the bargaining table, and recognize Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish people in the way that the Balfour Declaration intended."