Alan Dershowitz Now Doubts Obama’s Promise to Prevent Iran From Gaining Nuclear Weapons

December 10, 2013 1:25 pm 26 comments

Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Alan Dershowitz, who has made much of his friendship and fireside chats with former Harvard Law School colleague U.S. President Barack Obama, said he now doubts his friend’s promise to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.

Speaking on the sidelines of Israel’s Globes 2013 Israel Business Conference, Dershowitz said, ”Obama promised me in a personal conversation that Iran would not develop a nuclear weapon on his watch, and I believed him. Nonetheless, I am not sure that he can keep this. Therefore, Israel cannot outsource its security.”

In an interview with Israeli television presenter Ya’akov Eilon, Dershowitz said, “There is the potential for disaster in the deal with Iran; too much was given for too little in return. The White House told me that this is not true. I was told that it will be possible to reapply the sanctions by the U.S. alone. I am afraid of the music not the lyrics. Iran hears this as the end of the sanctions regime in exchange for which they have to give up nothing. If this ends by stopping the nuclear development, I’ll applaud Obama.

“The President told me that there’s a 50/50 chance of success or failure. I think that the chances of success are only 20%, the chances of failure are 40%, and the rest is uncertain. I think that no one knows whether Iran’s supreme leader has changed his mind and that he is prepared to eliminate the nuclear program. We don’t know if he just put up a smiling face.

“Another point that really scares me is that the supreme leader called Iran’s Jews and told them to stand behind the nuclear facility and to say that they support the nuclear program. This is a message to the Israeli prime minister that they will use Iran’s Jews as a human shield. The message to Netanyahu is – don’t dare use the military option.”

Speaking directly about the Jewish state, Dershowitz said, “Israel is very strong in the face of external economic threats. Israel has created a wonderful army and has also succeeded in its business, in human capital, despite the regional threats. It won’t always be able to do this. The sanctions that parties want to impose have not succeeded.”

But he hard sharp criticism for how Israel portrays itself in the world: “Israel gets a C-grade for public relations in the world. It hasn’t done good work at all. Israel has no foreign policy, only a domestic policy. Everything here is political, so the attempt to defend Israel is always an attempt to defend the government, which is a huge mistake. Israel needs a lot of young people to defend it. The mistaken perception of Israel is of a country that is derelict in its conduct on human rights.”

Dershowitz, 75, became famous in 1967, when, at 28, he became the youngest full professor at Harvard Law School. As a criminal appellate lawyer, he has won 13 of the 15 murder and attempted murder cases he has taken on, and represented several high-profile clients, including Mike Tyson, Patty Hearst, and Jim Bakker.

Dershowitz’s most notable cases include his role in 1984 in overturning the conviction of Claus von Bülow for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny, which was made into a book and a movie, and as the appellate adviser for the defense in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, in 1995.

His books include Reversal of Fortune: Inside the von Bülow Case (1985), the basis of the 1990 filmChutzpah (1991); Reasonable Doubts: The Criminal Justice System and the O.J. Simpson Case (1996); the best-selling The Case for Israel (2003); Rights From Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights (2004) and The Case for Peace (2005).

26 Comments

  • Irving D, Cohen

    What happened to the comment I submitted about ten minutes ago ?

  • Irving D, Cohen

    I never before realized that there are so many people who claim to be Jewish who are so eager to pounce upon one of the most honorable, intelligent Jewish intellectuals in the U.S.A. They are all too willing to direct their poisonous spittle at one of the most successful, knowledgeable and honorable attorneys that this country has ever seen, and a man who has always been a stalwart defender of our fellow-Jews, and of Israel. The unspeakable gall of several of the writers in trying to paint Professor Dershowitz a traitor,a liar, and Obama a secret Muslim Islamist, who think nothing of deliberately misleading the nation is overwhelming–and disgusting. Like many of us, he made an evaluation of the presidential candidates, and it was not difficult to support Mr. Obama, and, in retrospect, it still is a most intelligent choice, when one considers his opponents. I suspect that most of the uncalled for and nasty vituperation aimed at Dershowitz and Obama stems from frustrated Republican losers who are now remembering, for the first time in years, that they are Jewish, and are trying to get at the president by viciously attacking one of his most effective Jewish supporters.

  • Irving D, Cohen

    As usual, Alan Dershowitz is honest and candid, regardless of whose toes he may be stepping on. Although I have been a supporter of President Obama on most of his projects and statements, his behavior re Iran/Israel has had me extremely worried. I believe he and Kerry are so troubled by the possibility of a war with Iran that they are willing to forget the statements the president has made repeatedly, promising the world that he would, and could, prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb. I note that their latest comments and actions have already resulted in an 11% increase in Iran’s oil exports, thereby dulling the effect of the sanctions formerly in place.

  • The only sure path for Israeli survival is for Israel to nuke Iran and kill all of them.

  • Haven’t rational minds wondered how the Defendant (in the media-circus mockery of jurisprudence that became ‘People of the State of California vs. Orenthal James Simpson’) ever won acquittal, with most of his lawyers ‘Legends in their own Minds,’ as concerned with their Public Images as their Client’s well-being?

    Liberal Sensibility (to this writer) runs nearly 100% on emotion, where reality is defined by wishful thinking. Judeo-Christian government officials’ belief that Iranian values and thought-processes mirror their own, and thus economic sanctions can reverse the goals of Persian Islamists, displays [at best] ignorance of thousands of years of Islamic and Persian history, or [more likely] colossal arrogance. Dependent upon periodic reelection, U.S. politicians (most of whom worship money and power) fear national economic hardship. But is it rational for them to believe Iran’s ayatollahs and mullahs—who jobs are NOT dependent upon re-election—can be swayed the same way? Have ‘sanctions’ stopped Iranian hostility and threats against Western interests? How long has it been tried?

    Wasn’t it Albert Einstein who posited that ‘Insanity is the belief that courses of action attempted and failed ad infinitum are the ones most likely to succeed?

    Gov. Mike Huckabee and Lt. Col. Allen West are the best friends Israel and Jews have. My Dream Team, West says: “Those who Believe in Nothing will Fall for Anything!” Do you believe that Israel and Jews are not synonymous? You do? Ask your gentile friends. Many of our great-grandparents thought so, all the way to the crematoria.

    The U.S.A. national bird is the predatory bald eagle.
    Ostriches burying their heads in the sand invite attack by the predators they try to wish out of existence.
    Does the United States need to swap its national bird?

    While I do not support Algemeiner stories written from the angle of hysteria permeating ‘The Jewish Press’, neither is approaching existential threats to Western Civilization (if not Human Survival) as purely-theoretic debating club talking points very prudent.

    “At least 95% of the time, when all is said and done, much more is usually said than done.”

    When ‘Nero Fiddled as Rome Burned,’ the fire was not ignited by a mushroom cloud.

  • As a prominent Jewish American, Alan Dershowitz helped sell us Barack Obama both in 2008 and 2012. So, if President Obama now betrays Israel with regard to Iran’s race to nuclear weapons, Dershowitz certainly bears some heavy personal responsibility for helping mislead Jewish Americans and others. In that event, we will definitely be entitled to question both Dershowitz’s character and his powers of judgment. And here there is the particular matter of his egregious failure to do due diligence with respect to the relevant background of the promisor. In evaluating Barack Obama’s promise to Dershowitz with respect to Iran’s race to nuclear weapons, ought not Dershowitz to have taken into account that — Barack Obama clearly did practice Islam for the first ten years of his life and subsequently retained something of a Muslim self-identification into his third decade, at the end of which he converted to Christianity for political advantage? And, ought not Dershowitz to have been alert to the many close ties to Muslims and Palestinian activists which Barack Obama cultivated also in his fourth and fifth decades? Was there some left-liberal ideological bias that prompted Dershowitz’s failure to do such due diligence that was urgently required to protect both the Jewish People and the American People? If so, such left-liberal bias is an explanation but not an excuse.

    • To quote Mr. Hertz: “Was there some left-liberal ideological bias that prompted Dershowitz’s failure to do such due diligence that was urgently required to protect both the Jewish People and the American People?”

      Yes. Next question.

    • Mr. Hertz,

      You are absolutely correct and it is a wonder how easily people dismissed Obama’s background and history in order to jump in the bandwagon. His Middle East maneuvering is laughable to those countries who’s leaders believe they have ‘won’. His not too subtle attempst to distract us from his continuous fiascos at home just aren’t working.
      His profound belief in wealth redistribution as exemplified by Obamacare show clearly he isn’t listening to this country. But instead, only to his own ideology. It’s a shame that people still haven’t woken up to see the slow and inexorable erosion of our personal freedoms. Once you hand a government the right to ‘take care of you’ you hand over your freedom with it. His decisions regarding foreign policy do not reflect the desires of this nation. Bit he doesn’t care.

    • American Jews have been mainly democrat: so given an opportunity to vote for a mixed race man to show their LIBERLISM they did it. I’m not even sure they care what Alan said about Obama they were voting for the color of his skin and Jewish guilt.

  • Wallace Edward Brand is right: Prof. Dershowitz is still enamored with the “two-state solution,” a most destructive myth that he has always taken as a necessary premise to any discussion of Middle East affairs.

    As long as Prof. Dershowitz does not dissociate himself from many outlandish statements he wrote in his “Case for Israel,” he will remain captive to a mythology and distant from any reality.

  • Dersh recites Obama’s words but he fails to appreciate a number of things, the most significant of which is the following:

    Obama said that Iran will not go nuclear “on his watch.” (One might wonder why this pledge should be more credible than any of the other broken promises.) Obama feels that, if he can complete his term without an explicit declaration from Iran that it is a nuclear power, he will be vindicated. If Iran will just cooperate and allow Obama to leave office without such a declaration from Iran, Obama believes that what follows will be the problem of his successor; he will do his victory lap. Never mind that Iran might, by that time, actually be a nuclear power or that it might have achieved a breakout capability…just so long as it remains clandestine and unacknowledged, Obama will claim victory.

    Of course, the nation, the region, and the world, generally, would be left in jeopardy but those are matters that are well beyond the concern of Obama.

    • That’s a very credible observation. Is the real deal to keep Iran’s nukes on the hush until Obama’s term ends? That would be just like him.

    • Its not that complicated, obama just lies. He will look a jew in the face and just lie,period. the sooner israel and all jews everywhere understand that the better it will be, although the point of no return for Israel is sadly approaching. Anti semitism is snowballing at an unprecedented pace. Where it has been regional before, it is worldwide today.

  • Wallace Edward Brand, JD Harvard, 1954

    When will Dershowitz admit that he is wrong on the two-state solution?

    I told him agree with him that Israel hasn’t traversed the allegations that its liberation of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem are illegal occupations but we still disagree whether or not it should do so. See: Roots of Israel’s Sovereignty and Boundaries in International Law: In Defense of the Levy Report http://www.think-israel.org/brand.allegedoccupation.html

    Nor has he told Obama that he is wrong on his allegation that the fake “Palestinian People” has a right to self-determination. That would not be a correct statement of International Law even if the “Palestinians” were a real rather than an invented “people” as under International Law when there is a tension between the right of a people to self-determination, and the right of a sovereign state to territorial integrity, the state’s right has priority. Under International Law since 1648 when a new world order was established after the Peace of Westphalia, the boundaries of a sovereign state have been inviolable. Therefore there is no unilateral right, under International Law, of secession. If the Arabs want sovereignty in a state in Palestine west of the Jordan River they cannot get it unilaterally. That is hornbook International Law.

  • In 2001, President Rafsanjani said that the use of a nuclear bomb against Israel would leave nothing standing, but that retaliation, no matter how severe, would merely do damage to the world of Islam. Has he ever backtracked on that statement? Has anyone ever asked him? Have subsequent Iranian presidents ever been asked whether they agree with that statement?
    If President Obama once said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon on his watch, did he understand that such weapons would threaten Israel’s existence?
    The question of Iran’s nuclear capabilities can’t be separated from Iran’s stated aim to destroy Israel–unless, of course, Iran chooses to separate itself from that aim and say so publicly.

  • That professor Dershowitz now is “not sure that [Obama] can keep” his promise; i.e., has the ability to keep it, is accurate. To post a headline indicating that Dershowitz believes Obama was dishonest (“… Now Doubts Obama’s Promise”) is a nasty bit of business. I shall be very careful about what to believe in the Algemeiner postings from this point forward.

  • Dershowitz is so right. Israel has no leg in the outside world, because of the way they mistreat those who stand up against their policies. To a certain extent, Israel acts as a bully just as other third world countries act. This creates a terrible image if Israel.

    • Reply to Dov: Some tangible things are more important than mere “image.” For example, there are the requirements of national security, where image certainly counts for something, but is normally trumped by concrete factors, like efficient measures to control terrorists and their weaponry. As for the way that some in other countries see Israel, there are many considerations that help explain some of the exceptional attitudes that many now have toward the Jewish State. For example, there are 57 Muslim countries, where the specific text of the Koran still plays a key role in shaping negative attitudes toward Jews, the Jewish People and Israel. A good lesson for those quick to criticize Israel’s conduct at home and abroad is to make sure that they regularly apply to Israel the identical standards they regularly apply to other countries, in the same or similar circumstances. From a human-rights optic, all peoples and countries are owed both fairness and sound social science. Within the context of modern human-rights methodologies, it does not take very long to figure out that the modern meaning of “antisemitism” probably includes persistently targeting Jews and/or Israel and persistently applying to Jews and/or Israel a standard more exigent than regularly applied to other peoples and countries, in the same or similar circumstances. A tremendous amount of harm is done to Israel because of such targeting. In the 1960′s Soviet propagandists invented the lie that, exactly because of the Holocaust, Jews (of all peoples) are called upon to observe a higher standard than other peoples. This line of argument was specially contrived to serve as a weapon in the war against the Jews and Israel. In practical terms, it is probably not advisable for any country to consistently observe a higher standard than regularly followed by other countries. Moreover, it is highly discriminatory for others to regularly hold a given country (e.g., Israel) to a higher standard than regularly followed by other countries, in the same or similar circumstances.

  • Shaun Donaldson

    Is there a country on the planet who would not exercise considerable caution with a neighbour where statements of wiping its existence of the map had been stated? Would those other countries of the world allow production of any fissionable material that could enable this to take place? Can the investigative resources available accurately monitor all such potential activities?

  • Dersh is one of those famous experts who is regularly incorrect in his judgment.

  • Mr Dershowitz, I applaud you. I have always maintained that Israel’s PR is very flimsy with no set policy in mind. There are just too many chiefs and talking heads that do not speak with one voice. Golda was right, every one in Israel thinks they should be prime minister.

  • Bravo Dersh!
    Welcome to reality. Better late than never.

  • With Iran’s threat to use its Jews as shields at nuclear installations, Israel should concentrate on bombing its harbour and oil fields. Without finance Iran will not be able to proceed and will lose its oil clout.

  • Time for other influential people to step forward and question this very questionable Iran nuke deal. Obama got away with ruining millions’ medical insurance coverage with outright lies. The people of Israel didn’t sacrifice and give their all for it to be destroyed for the sake of this man’s agenda. This is 1938 and a new holocaust hangs over us. This is no hyperbole. Iran’s genocide-bent leaders must never get nuclear weapons. Nothing is more important than preventing this. The US administration under Obama cannot be trusted. Little Israel will have to lead the way for the people of the world, many of whom realize the dangers of viral Islam. Israel will be cheered in many quarters while the elite media will tsk tsk. We have no choice unless the Iran menace is averted somehow by other means that are not apparent. Netanyahu appears to realize this.

  • Correction…first word should be DESRSHOWITZ…SORRY

  • Fetishists has spent many years worshiping the ground OBAMA walks on..It is too late for him to have any credibility in attempting to eat the reality sandwich that Obama worships the ground that Frank Marshall Davis walks on.

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