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May 22, 2015 3:19 pm

Dershowitz: Obama is Neither Anti-Israel Nor Anti-Jewish

avatar by Alan Dershowitz

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President Barack Obama addresses the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington DC. Photo: Screenshot

I have been a strident critic of President Obama’s policy toward Iran, especially how he and his team have been negotiating with that belligerent regime over its nuclear weapons program. But opposition to one aspect of the Obama policies should not be mistaken for opposition to President Obama himself or to the many achievements of his administration, particularly in the domestic area.

Having just listened to his speech at a conservative Jewish Congregation in Washington, D.C., I was reminded why I  supported him both times he ran for president, as well as when he ran for the United States Senate. Barack Obama is a good and decent person, who admires the Jewish people and supports Israel’s right to exist as the Nation State of the Jewish People as well as its right to defend itself against attacks, both domestic and foreign. He disagrees with the Netanyahu administration on several issues. On some of these issues, such as settlement building, I tend to agree with Obama. On other issues, such as the Iran negotiations, I tend to agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

On a personal level, I do not think that President Obama has handled his relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu in a mature and productive fashion. Having been provoked by Speaker Boehner’s invitation to have Netanyahu speak to Congress, President Obama acted in a petulant manner that exacerbated the differences between them. I also disapprove of how President Obama handled Netanyahu’s statements regarding the two state solution. Recall on the evening of Netanyahu’s election, he made a statement suggesting that the time was not now ripe for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Immediately following his election, Netanyahu reasserted his commitment to the two state solution. Instead of reacting in a statesmanlike way by focusing on Netanyahu’s positive restatement, Obama reemphasized his opposition to Netanyahu’s previous negative statements. This was poor politics, poor statesmanship and poor psychology.

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Regarding the deal with Iran, President Obama had said that as between accepting the deal and rejecting it, the only realistic option is to accept it. He may be right, but he was wrong to get us into the position where the only options may be bad and worse.

I will continue to be critical of President Obama and his administration where I believe criticism is warranted, but I will continue to express approval and admiration for our President when he acts in a positive fashion.

President Obama’s speech to the Jewish Congregation in Washington D.C. was excellent. He talked about shared values between our country and Israel and between him and the Jewish community. His policies with regard to health care and many other domestic issues are consistent with those of a majority of American Jews. We should neither demonize nor lionize our President. We should criticize him where criticism is warranted, praise him where praise is justified and encourage him to be supportive of Israel. There is too much extremism at play when it comes to President Obama. People who hate him, hate him too much and without justification. Some people who love him, love him too much and without nuanced criticism.

So let’s continue to watch carefully how this administration deals with foreign policy issues, especially with regard to Israel and Iran and let’s be constructive and nuanced in both our criticism and our support.

In his speech to the Congregation, President Obama invited “scrutiny” of his foreign policy actions, particularly with regard to Iran. We should accept his invitation and offer good faith and constructive criticism.

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  • Arthur Cohn

    What Alan forgets is that Obama is a very convincing liar.

  • JOHN TRAIN

    Dennis Ross “Obama’s errors have distanced peace: There can’t be questions only about Israeli responsibilities when there’s no reference to Palestinian responsibilities. Had the president reflected more on that in his comments, it would have resonated more here. If you look at the comments, they tend to be focused only on what Israel can do, not what the Palestinians can do or haven’t done.”

  • JOHN TRAIN

    DERSHOWITZ:” I was reminded why I supported him both times he ran for president, as well as when he ran for the United States Senate. Barack Obama is a good and decent person, who admires the Jewish people and supports Israel’s right to exist as the Nation State of the Jewish People as well as its right to defend itself against attacks, both domestic and foreign. ”

    Alan—why is it that you can’t understand Ali Abunimah,Rashid Khalidi,Robert Mally,Zibg Brezinskii and those chants of “death to Israel” recorded on the tapes given to the Los Angeles Times that president Obama has never disavowed.

    The president is good words but every action that he has controlled has been detrimental to Israel. It is the intelligence and military professionals like myself who have kept the cooperation strong. It is his White House political staff who have sought to demonize Prime Minister Netanyahu in order to neutralize the opposition to providing Iran with an assured path to regional domination and impregnable nuclear offensive weapons.

    Many junior officers in this command predicted that your Jewish liberal instincts would dominate your thinking. Your article is proof that their concerns were hundred percent correct.

    Shame on you.

  • Robert Weintraub

    Obama is the first American president to say that the Arab/Israel negotiations begin at the ’67 lines. He pressured Israel to release 1000 terrorists to lure a reluctant Abass to the bargaining table. His idea of peace was to hammer Israel into making material concessions in return for promises of peace. Obama repeatedly treated Netanyahu with contempt while showering praise on every Arab leader he met. So why would anyone think he has Israel’s interests at heart?

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    No I am afraid either you are wrong, deluded or merely wishfully thinking that reality is not what it appears to be.

  • dante

    many years ago, Eugene McCarthy said of a certain cynical American politician that if he saw a man drowning 40 meters out, the politician in question would throw the desperate swimmer a line of 25 meters and claim that he met him MORE than half way.

    well, he didn’t want it said of him that he did nothing. he wanted to be able to claim that he did something, he “tried to help.” at the same time, he really didn’t want to save the swimmer. that’s obama.

    yes, it’s true that the administration and the govt generally have helped and continue to help Israel in indispensable ways. yet, it must also be said that, at the same time, the administration has worked, maliciously, sometimes openly and sometimes covertly, to undercut Israel. this is a result of a determined ideologically-occasioned abandonment of traditional American views about America, its place in the world and its duties as a world leader. [even if it were the case that Obama doesn’t like Netanyahu, no “leader,” no diplomat, no adult, would allow personal pique to dictate state policy. it’s an embarrassment unworthy of an American president.]

  • dante

    Dersh has been a very important advocate for Israel and for decency. But, Dersh has been consistently wrong about Obama. On more than one occasion, Dersh assured his audiences that he had personally spoken to Obama and had been told that Obama would not allow iran to go nuclear “on his watch.” Even though Dersh is a great lawyer, he didn’t seem to tumble to the fact that he had “been had” by Obama: It means nothing or next to nothing that iran won’t go nuclear or it won’t be obvious that it has gone nuclear until some time after Jan 2017, when a new president will have assumed office, i.e. after Obama’s watch.

  • Isaac Bensussen

    I admire Alan Dershowitz for many of his qualities. He is a very intelligent man and tremendous communicator. I do not agree with his assessment of President Obama. He forgets that Obama is also a great communicator and tells people what they want to hear. His foreign policies are a disaster. He is very arrogant and shows it constantly. With Netanyahu he does not loose an opportunity to put him down. I did not vote for President Obama because he was an inexperienced two year senator and previously, a community organizer. He is learning on the job. He has done some good things but he screws up every day. He is into everything. I am afraid that with all the power that the US had, and I do not say has in the world he is creating a very dangerous world. I do not trust President Obama or his advisors. They are afraid to disagree with him. He has too much power.

  • Jerry

    let´s put it this way, Husain Soetoro for sure loves the muslim brotherhood much more than Israel.

  • Emanuel

    Great analysis A.D.! This only begs the questions, how does our President get to a negotiating table with Iran? or alternatively how does our President get to a Jewish congregation? and why? I too voted for him twice and support him but they “whys” and “hows” need to be looked at too, as well as the results.

  • Lawrence

    Dersh no longer has any or at least much credibility, giving how he runs cover for an anti-Semite like Obama, whose policies imperil Israel’s very survival. Apparently threatening Israel and endlessly bashing us, even as we face jihadist enemies who seek our destruction, whilst giving a free pass to kleptocracies, demagogues and tyrants much of the world over, is not anti-Semitic, at least when Obama does it.

    Dersh ignores everything that Obama has actually done in office, and not done in office; including his suspending of arms sales and deliveries to Israel during the war against Hamas in Gaza last year, his praise for Jew-haters like Abbas and Erdogan and his going easy on the Muslim Brotherhood, so much else besides. Pathetic.

  • Zvi

    Finally a great analysis. As an Israeli, The US has been for me, a bright beacon of Hope for a world torn between Economic,National ,Religious ,North-South, and many other rifts.President Obama’ whom I and many Jews supported from the beginning, didnt prove to be Anti-Jewish, but -in my view -as a President, that by his desire to “change the world within 4-8 years, made so many wrong choices at home and abroad that it is painful to witness the world (especially around Israel) laughing and Mocking the leader of the US, which for many years we considered as our most important MORAL ally. Because Obama believed in “Revolution” and not “Evolution”. he eroded the “Stature of the US” regardless of his terrible treatment of Netanyahu (Which I dont support) . I speak to Arabs, that tell me “If he does this to you ‘He cannot be trusted”. I wish him well on his retirement!

  • doug klein

    re Dershowitz and our perceived collaboration with Obama. To wit, I do not trust Obama, I will never accept anything Obama says as truth, and feel Dershowitz is trying to hoodwink us into thinking HOO is a mensch. On that note, I trust the democratic party less and the republican party and its denizens the least.

  • JOEL S.

    THE PRESIDENT HAS MOSTLY BEEN QUIET ABOUT THE SLAUGHTER OF CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, PLAYED GOLF AFTER A BEHEADING, IS COMPLETELY QUIET ABOUT THE ANTI-SEMITISM AROUND THE WORLD AND ESPECIALLY ON CAMPUSES IN AMERICA BECAUSE HE SUPPORTS THIS HATE AGAINST JEWS, IS LYING ABOUT THE KILLING OF YOUND BLACKS BY THE POLICE,ETC. WHEN THE PRESIDENT CALLED FOR ISRAEL TO GO BACK TO THE 1967 BORDERS, HE SHOWED HOW HE REALLY FEELS.
    I GREW UP IN THE 1960’S AND REMEMBER WHEN THE NATIONAL GUARDS OF DIFFERENT STATES WERE MOBILIZED AND ORDER TO KEEP THE PEACE DOWN SOUTH. THERE ARE BATTLES IN BALTIMORE, CHICAGO, ATLANTA, ETC. HE KEEPS QUIET BECAUSE HE SUPPORTS THESE SHOOTINGS AMONG BLACKS. IT’S AND DISGRACE THAT MOST OF BLACK AMERICA WILL NEVER WAKE UP TO SEE HOW THE PRESIDENT, NAACP, SHARPTON, JACKSON, ETC. ARE JUST LAUGHING BEHIND THEIR BACKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Alan Dershowitz flip-flops again
    http://www.madisdead.blogspot.co.il/2015/05/alan-dershowitz-flip-flops-again.html

    Two years ago Alan Dershowitz finally began to realize the immense danger of Obama’s policy on Iran and he wrote several articles:

    Dershowitz: Iran Deal ‘Cataclysmic Error of Gigantic Proportions

    Alan Dershowitz finally woke up – Oppose the deal on Iran, he says

    But now comes a piece in the Jerusalem Post that makes no sense. Dershowitz cannot have it both ways. You cannot be a stringent critic of Obama’s Iran policy and then praise how Obama talked about “shared values between our country and Israel” because if these values had any significance to Obama he would not be enabling Iran to become a nuclear power and be pushing the world towards a nuclear war. Apparently Dershowitz never really understood the catastrophe behind Obama’s appeasement of Iran or he thinks Israelis would still swallow this inconsistency in his thinking. But we do live under an Iranian nuclear threat and we can just wonder how blind and insensitive Dershowitz really is.

  • deborah

    I truly have a hard time believing this article, Dershowtiz was always a liberal, and this proves why I cannot stand him- he is two faced and a liar

    • Reform School

      Do laymen know lawyers are trained to think illogically?
      Barry is as skilled at taqiyya as Alan is at platitutes.
      If attorney Dershnowits accepted one dollar from Obama, legal ethics [if not attorney-client privilege] bar him from publishing one word detrimental to his client. The many jokes about shipwrecked lawyers have solid bases. Many worship the ground lawyers have coming to them.

  • deborah

    I have a hard time believing this article, Dershowtiz was always a liberal, and this proves why I cannot stand him- he is two faced and a liar

  • Alan Greenberg

    I agree with Professor Dershowitz that we need to be nuanced in both our support and criticism of President Obama. Professor Dershowitz does seem to gloss over several instances, however, that would place President Obama in the “anti-Israel” and/or “anti-Jewish” category: (1) President Obama played lip service to Israel’s right to self-defense during Operation Protective Edge but during the course of the war he had his spokespeople regularly condemn Israel for its lack of “proportionality” in its response to thousands of Hamas rocket attacks, the “appalling” number of civilian casualties, and the purportedly unjustified attacks on UN facilities that just happened to be storage facilities for weapons and the source of, or in close proximity to, rocket attacks because of Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields. This tended to exacerbate the wave of anti-Semitism that spiked during the Gaza conflict. (2) When the peace talks with the PA collapsed, President Obama had Martin Indyk and Secretary Kerry put the onus for the failure of the talks squarely on the Israelis. (3) President Obama abrogated the written assurance provided by the US during the Bush Administration that no objections would be raised to construction in East Jerusalem or in the recognized large settlement blocks that are not envisioned as ever being evacuated by Israel. (4) President Obama has gone back on the position he espoused when he was running for President that Jerusalem would never again be divided. (5) President Obama took no steps to locate or punish the high level official or officials who told Jeffrey Goldberg on the record for publication in The Atlantic that the Obama Administration considered Prime Minister Netanyahu a “chickenshit” and a coward. By contrast, the US demanded and received a public apology from Moshe Ya’alon for his description of Secretary Kerry’s pursuit of the peace talks as “messianic” and “compulsive”. (6) When Islamic terrorists killed Jewish shoppers at the kosher market in Paris President Obama dismissed and minimized the incident as “random violence” perpetrated against “some folks in a market”. For some reason, President Obama does not want to admit the reality of Islamic terrorism. (7) Most recently, at the synagogue speech attended by Professor Dershowitz which Professor Dershowitz found so reassuring, President Obama stated that the Palestinians have a right to be free in their own land. He continually refers to the current status of Judea and Samaria as an “occupation”. Clearly, and fundamentally, President Obama just does not get it. It is not and never has been the Palestinians’ land. It is our land. Every inch of Judea and Samaria. It is our land by virtue of the thousands of years of connection between the land and the Jewish people and because the land was again paid for by the blood of Israeli soldiers in 1967. If there will ever by a Palestinian State, it will be because Israel has decided to share part of the homeland of the Jewish people with the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria in return for peace. President Obama may in his heart believe he is a friend of Israel and the Jewish people, and no one can doubt that there has been a high level of military aid and security cooperation provided to Israel, but I think that so far in his tenure as president he has certainly done far more harm than good to Israeli and Jewish interests.

  • 2nd version, w/o typos:

    How many times do we have to listen to this horse manure?

    Barack Obama has spent his entire life associated with Jew haters and Israel bashers like Frank Marshal Davis, Louis Farrakhan, Khalid al-Mansour, Rashid Khalidi, Bill Ayres, Edward Said, Jeremiah Wright and Al Sharpton. Does that signify something to the perplexed, perhaps?

    He’s done his best to make Israel into a partisan issue, protected CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood fronts from being prosecuted in a second Holy Land Foundation trial that would have been an open and shut case,and has allowed his petty dislike of Netanyahu to give license to insult him and lie to him at every turn. That includes spending millions and sending his campaign ‘soldiers’ to Israel to try and subvert the democracy he claims to be so fond of. And Remember those commitments Bush made to Sharon about Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria that Obama and Hillary claimed ‘never existed’, even though Bush made them in speeches and in writing?

    He and George Soros created J Street as a cover for his hostility to Israel, and he’s the only US president ever to stop shipments of weapons Israel had already paid for in the middle of a shooting war.

    He declassified intel on Israel nuclear program, another first. And he favors forcing Israel back to indefensible borders.And he is appeasing Iran atevery turn. What exactly does it take to convince someone that this man is an enemy of our people? What, he made yet another speech?

    And speaking of decency, this is a man who fought tooth and nail to kill laws mandating medical care for infants whom survive an abortion, a stance that was too morally challenging even for NARAL. And since Professor Dershowitz admits he supported Barack Obama when he ran for the senate,does he perhaps recall how this ‘good and decent person’ got his apparatchniks to judge shop until they found one that would push through an order to make public records of a contentious divorce involving his opponent Jack Ryan public over the objections of both parties that had been previously sealed to protect the feelings of a minor child? I and Professor Dershowitz apparently have very different ideas of goodness and decency.

    Make no mistake, I get where Professor Dershowitz is coming from. He’s a Democrat-for-life, Obama’s our historical first black president, yadda yadda.

    But Israel is the refuge of the Jewish people. And that affects the comfortable life American Jews have in the diaspora.

    Professor Dershowitz might just have noticed how open Jew hatred is getting on America’s campuses, maybe not. But if he’s secure that he won’t need that refuge, he might at least have some consideration for his fellow Jews.

    Only a fool helps destroy his own refuge. And only a morally deficient fool helps destroy it for others

  • How many times to we have to listen to this horse manure?

    Barack Obama has spent his entire life with Jew haters and Israel bashers like Frank Marshal Davis, Khalid al-Mansour, Rashid Khalidi, Bill Ayres, Edward Said, Jeremiah Wright and Al Sharpton. Does that signify something to the perplexed, perhaps?

    He’s done his best to male Israel into a partisan issue, protected CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood fronts from being prosecuted in a second Holy Land Foundation that would have been an open and shut case,and has allowed his petty dislike of Netanyahu to give license to insult him, lie to him at every turn. That includes spending millions and sending his campaign ‘soldiers’ to Israel to try and subvert the democracy he claims to be so fond of. And Remember those commitments Bush made to Sharon about Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria that Obama and Hillary claimed ‘never existed’, even though Bush made them in speeches and in writing?

    He and George Soros started J Street as a cover for his hostility to Israel, and he’s the only US president ever to stop shipments of weapons Israel had already paid for in the middle of a shooting war.

    He declassified intel on Israel nuclear program, another first. And he favors forcing Israel back to indefensible borders.And he is appeasing Iran atevery turn. What exactly does it take to convince someone that this man is an enemy of our people? What, he made yet another speech?

    And speaking of decency, this is a man who fought tooth and nail to kill laws mandating medical care for infants whom survive an abortion, a stance that was too morally challenging even for NARAL.

    I get where Professor Dershowitz is coming from. He’s a Democrat, first black president, yadda yadda.

    But Israel is the refuge of the Jewish people. And that affects the comfortable life American Jews have in the diaspora.

    Professor Dershowitz might just have noticed how open Jew hatred is getting on America’s campuses, maybe not. But if he’s secure that he’ll need that refuge, he might at least have some consideration for his fellow Jews.

    Only a fool helps destroy his own refuge. And only a morally deficient fool helps destroy it for others

  • Mr. Stephen L Tecot

    Please avoid what Alan is smoking as it obviously clouds one’s judgement.

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