Dear Prof. Dershowitz,
I am a very politically liberal Jew. However, I find great discomfort with liberal activist organizations when it comes to Israel. Their messages are frequently strident and are often indistinguishable between being anti-Israel and antisemitic. Equally problematic is finding myself in the camp of the neo-cons and other right-wing groups in their support of Israel. Is there no place for a liberal Jew who supports Israel?
Alan Dershowitz replies:
I, too, am a politically liberal Jew who supports Israel, though I am critical of some of its policies (as I am of some policies of every country). You are absolutely right that the hard left has made it politically incorrect to show any support for Israel. Indeed, virulent anti-Israel extremism has become a litmus test for acceptance by the hard left.
I, too, find it impossible to support the neo-cons and other right-wing groups, since I favor the end of the occupation, the two-state solution and Israeli efforts to reach out to pragmatic Palestinians. I also strongly oppose the right on issues of social justice, tikkun olam and separation of church and state.
There is, however, a place for a liberal Jew who supports Israel. We are a proud group that includes Barney Frank, Irwin Cotler, Chuck Schumer, Michael Walzer and many others. The situation you describe is widespread: Liberal Jews who are appalled by the attitude many of their left-wing friends show toward Israel. That is why I am planning to write a memoir entitled “Why I Left the Left But Couldn’t Join the Right.” I suspect I speak for quite a few people on this issue.
Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is the author of numerous books, including “Chutzpah,” “The Vanishing American Jew,” “The Genesis of Justice,” “The Case for Israel,” “The Case for Peace” and, most recently, “Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence.”