For a very long time I couldn’t stand Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard criminal law professor who was reliably irritating on almost any subject. He seemed the male version of Gloria Allred, turning up on camera in the middle of every controversy, rivaling Jesse Jackson for the title as the best political ambulance chaser in the land. He succeeded through sheer bluster and volume; hence, about the only person who ever matched up against him well was Alan Keyes, in a debate back in 2000 that you can take in below. (But think about that pairing: they were perfect for each other.)
But some time over the last decade Dershowitz seemed to change more than a little bit. Maybe it was 9/11, and maybe it was the manner in which the left has become so much more openly hostile to Israel, and genuine liberal values overall. I haven’t kept a close score, but more often than not it seems to me he is coming in closer to our side.
So this Dershowitz column about Jimmy Carter and the Saudis made me sit up and take notice. Key excerpts:
Recent disclosures of Carter’s extensive financial connections to Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia, had deeply shaken my belief in his integrity. When I was first told that he received a monetary reward in the name of Shiekh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, and kept the money, even after Harvard returned money from the same source because of its anti-Semitic history, I simply did not believe it. How could a man of such apparent integrity enrich himself with dirty money from so dirty a source?
And let there be no mistake about how dirty the Zayed Foundation is. I know because I was involved, in a small way, in helping to persuade Harvard University to return more than $2 million that the financially strapped Divinity School received from this source. . . I was amazed that in the 21st century there were still foundations that espoused these views. The Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-up – a think-tank funded by the Shiekh and run by his son – hosted speakers who called Jews “the enemies of all nations,” attributed the assassination of John Kennedy to Israel and the Mossad and the 9/11 attacks to the United States’ own military, and stated that the Holocaust was a “fable.” (They also hosted a speech by Jimmy Carter.) To its credit, Harvard turned the money back. To his discredit, Carter did not.
Jimmy Carter was, of course, aware of Harvard’s decision, since it was highly publicized. Yet he kept the money. Indeed, this is what he said in accepting the funds: “This award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan.” Carter’s personal friend, it turns out, was an unredeemable anti-Semite and all-around bigot.
For Carter that was probably not a bug, but a feature. Anyway, there’s lots more in Dershowitz’s piece that tracks close the argument of a certain critical biography of Carter. Read the whole thing, as the saying goes.
See also this editorial from the Washington Times.