‘Courts Unfair to Pollard, Declare Him Prisoner of Zion’: Dershowitz

Rick Kardonne - Jewish Tribune - May 26, 2005 17 Iyar, 5765

Jonathan Pollard, the American Jewish prisoner of conscience, has a new case pending, said Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, who was at Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue as the keynote speaker for a fundraising event to honour Dr. Yitzhak and Laya Block, the directors of one of North America’s largest campus Lubavitcher centres, Chabad House for the University of Western Ontario, and Chabad House’s benefactors, Allen and Judy Berg.

In a pre-event interview, Dershowitz said that although he has no official role in what will eventually be a re-trial, “I would love to do anything I can. The courts have been very unfair to him. Israel should declare him to be a Prisoner of Zion.

“My protégé student Jacques Semmelman will head an excellent defence team.”

During this interview, Dershowitz was presented with a World Net Daily article by Aaron Klein documenting brutal torture of Pollard in various US prisons. He was asked whether this was cruel and unusual punishment as defined in the US Eighth Amendment.

Dershowitz said he would give the Klein torture article to Semmelman, but said that the US Supreme Court discounts Eighth Amendment cases for long sentences.

“The central legal argument was the breach of promise to Pollard regarding his plea bargain.” He is confident that this time, perhaps, Pollard will be freed.

As one of North America’s most renowned civil liberties authorities, Dershowitz had harsh words for the present Israeli government’s policy of administrative detention for those who peacefully oppose the Gaza disengagement, including rabbis and even ordinary citizens wearing orange T-shirts, the symbol of opposition to the evacuation of Jewish residents of Gaza. In the pre-speech interview, Dershowitz said, “Administrative detention is a mistake.”

His views on this matter underscored the main theme of his Shaarei Shomayim keynote address: “There is a line separating legitimate criticism of Israel from antisemitism.” His speech, How will Peace with the Palestinians Affect International Antisemitism, stressed that much of today’s media and academic criticism of Israel, singling out Israel for special condemnation, is not legitimate criticism of Israel as a normal state, but is instead couched in antisemitism. And the more that Israel makes concessions for peace, the shriller these voices of international hate, which he described as being “more Palestinian than the Palestinians,” become.

University of Western Ontario Chabad House will provide a secure Jewish home for UWO’s 3,000 Jewish students, many of whom are from Toronto and have never before been to London, ON. Dershowitz praised Chabad House at UWO, as being “wonderful,” adding that he hopes that its shining example will be emulated by all universities throughout the West.

UWO President Dr. Paul Davenport opened the well-attended Shaarei Shomayim function to extend official greetings, and Dershowitz was introduced by Dr. Ian Holloway, Dean of the UWO Law School.

Dershowitz’s keynote address took special aim at international academic antisemitism in the US, UK, and by implication, Canada.

“This is a time of isolation and condemnation” for Jewish students on campus, declared Dershowitz. “Feminists are turning against Israel, even though Israel has three women in its Supreme Court. There are ‘Gays for Palestine,’ even though many gays have fled the Palestinian Authority territory for safe haven in Israel. This anti-Zionism, which is antisemitism, is a great moral challenge.”

He gave examples of this academic-rooted singling out of Israel for special approbation: divestiture, as prescribed by the US Presbyterian Church (not its Canadian counterpart), to sell holdings in companies that do business with the Jewish state; exclusion of Israel from various UN agencies, and academic boycotts, as advocated by the British Association of University Teachers.

In some British universities, prominent academics such as Dr. Emmanuel Ottolinghi of The Middle East Centre at St.Antony’s College at Oxford have denounced the boycott and expressed “undivided solidarity with both universities (Haifa and Bar-Ilan) and their faculties.”(National Post, April 30). Such open solidarity has been rare in the US.

“In 50 per cent of US campuses, there is not a single professor who will speak up for Israel,” he said.

Like Daniel Pipes, Dershowitz identified Columbia University in New York as being the very worst.

“Not a single prof spoke up for Israel until the Dean of Law, George Fletcher, did so. Professor (Joseph) Massad, on the other hand, after speaking about alleged Israeli massacres, told a Jewish student: ‘Unless you are prepared to acknowledge Israeli barbarities, you have no right to be in this class.’ When I spoke at Columbia, I discovered that the Jewish professors have become terrified. At DePauw University in Chicago, when a professor confronted an Arab he was fired.”

Dershowitz identified four professors as being the leaders of the antisemitic academic pack: Noam Chomsky; Norman Finkelstein, Tom Judt, and Alexander Cockburn.

Political figures who draw heavy support from academics such as “the despicable mayor of London (UK), Ken Livingstone, who called Israelis war criminals,” were also severely reprimanded in Dershowitz’s keynote address.

He asked all professors to (in following Dr. Ottolinghi’example) say: “I am a member of the faculties of Haifa University and Bar-Ilan University. I will do nothing for a British university unless they have an Israeli professor.”