Dershowitz to the Defense of Israel
A review of The
Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz
NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2003, 264 pages, $19.95
By Mitchell Bard
If you were going to hire someone to defend Israel,
who better than one of America’s most prominent defense lawyers,
Alan Dershowitz? The Harvard professor has taken on this new client
in his new book, The Case for Israel, in which he examines 32
specific questions related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and offers factual
responses along with some pugnacious opinions in the style that has
helped make him famous.
Replacing the myth/fact format, Dershowitz presents
an accusation such as, “Have the Jews Exploited the Holocaust?
and then provides examples of some of the people who make the accusation.
He then provides “the reality” and “the proof”
to dispute the allegations.
My quibbles are relatively minor. Dershowitz probably
could have chosen accusations that are more salient to the debate today.
For example, the question of whether the Balfour
Declaration is binding international law is not really an issue
that arises in debate and his answer that it is binding doesn’t
really help make the case for Israel today. Some of his arguments, such
as those refuting the notion that settlements
are an obstacle to peace could be stronger. Also, rather than stick
to the facts, Dershowitz also throws in his own opinions, but this makes
the book more interesting and puts the author’s stamp on the arguments.
The book duplicates much of what can already be found
in Myths And
Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict., and is far more
limited in scope, but it has the benefit of a big name author who has
the chance to reach a huge audience not only through sales of the book,
but through his appearances in the media and on the lecture circuit.
The book is also written in a lively style that makes it a quick read
and accessible to younger readers who most desperately need the information.
The Case for Israel is indicative of a basic
problem that Israel faces; namely, that it is so often on the defensive.
Rather than an attorney defending Israel as Dershowitz does here,
it would be preferable to see a prosecutor make the case for
Israel. Until someone accepts that challenge, Dershowitz’s book
will remain one of the essential works for anyone interested in the