The Case for Israel
By Alan Dershowitz
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Pamela A. Chaiet
Israel stands accused of being a criminal state, the prime violator of human rights, the mirror of fascism, and the biggest impediment to peace in this region of the world, but Alan Dershowitz, the celebrated outspoken attorney and professor of law at Harvard who is famous for taking on cases that challenge the odds, makes a provocative defense of Israel. Dershowitz says that he does not seek to defend every policy or action taken by Israel. He wants to show Israel "warts and all" to the public. What he does seek to do is defend Israel's right to exist and to show how too often only one side has been presented. He finds it objectionable when Israel is the only one criticized for faults even more pervasive in other nations. No nation in history has faced the challenge that Israel has and yet continues to adhere to the highest standard of human rights and to work within the rule of law. Israel holds its' military to the same code of ethics.

Dershowitz says there must be first a starting point, an agreed upon point for understanding, an agreed upon point from which to move forward. It must be understood that there are different interpretations of the same historical events. To often the justification and claim on land is derived from religious sources. This makes meaningful discussion awkward. There must be a starting point that includes a statute of limitations for ancient grievances.

Dershowtiz's book sets out to prove that Israel is innocent of the charges leveled against it. He begins his case by reviewing the Arab-Palestinian-Muslim-Israeli conflict. He then seeks to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Israel is being held to a double standard. This pernicious outlook, according to Dershowitz, results in one of the best among nations to be accused of being the worst.

Dershowitz's presentation is well organized. It is displayed in the format of a legal brief with each side represented. He begins with the "Accusation", which he explicitly defines. He then states the "Accusers" viewpoint. Under a section labeled "The Reality" he states Israel's side and then proceeds to document proof for denial of the accusation. His approach is straightforward and gets to the meat of the matter. It is a direct, no hands tied, statement of fact that provides an understandable summary that satisfies the reader's need to know.

The author examines such issues as:


  1. Is Israel a Colonial, Imperialist State?
  2. Did European Jews Displace Palestinians?
  3. Were the Jews Unwilling to Share Palestine?
  4. Have the Jews Rejected the Two State Solutions?
  5. Were the Jews a Minority in What Became Israel?
  6. Did Israel Create the Arab Refugee Problem?
  7. Was Israel's Occupation Without Justification?
  8. Was Arafat Right to Turn Down the Barak-Clinton Peace Proposal?
  9. Is There Moral Equivalence between Palestinian Terrorists and Israeli Response?

Readers may well be surprised that the facts do not correspond to what they think they know. It may be enlightening to learn that Jewish population has always been present in Palestine and Israel, particularly in the holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron and Safad. The Jews that came back to the Middle East during the first Aliyah (the initial immigration of European Jewish refugees to Palestine) in 1882 did not displace local residents by conflict--they bought legally the land from absentee landlords. They then used their own labor, not the labor of a conquered, people to transform and improve the land.

In conclusion, Dershowitz argues that in order to understand the Middle East conflict, one must accept the from the beginning the strategy of the Arab world has been to eliminate the existence of the Jewish State and its people. This book has been sorely needed. It serves as a learning experience. Dershowitz writes with audacity and truth. The book is direct and easily understood.

The reader may be both saddened and outraged that the sincere efforts of more than one American president have been mocked by terrorists. The reader may also be aghast that Arafat, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, rejected Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer of peace. It includes virtually everything that the Palestinians had asked for.

  • A state with a capital in Jerusalem
  • Control of the Temple Mount
  • Return of 95% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip
  • $30 billion compensation package for the 1948 refugees

Dershowitz shows that constantly provoking Israel to retaliate and cause the deaths of Palestinian citizens is a cruel and deliberate strategy to make Israel look like the aggressor. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the Middle East conflict.


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