1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2015
Dershowitz gives a balanced account. He is openly critical of some of Israel's policies, but what becomes clear despite this is how unbalanced is the world view of the Israel/ Palestine problem.
Although this book was written in the time of Sharon & Arafat it is no less relevant today.
I would recommend anyone who has only ever relied on newspapers and broadcasts to form their opinion on the problem to read this, and be informed of the truth.
The book deals with individual aspects of the problem chapter by chapter, laying out the perception of that aspect, the reality of that problem and the evidence for proof of that reality.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2014
I am an Englishman and a gentile. Throughout history, my nation has fought and sacrificed our treasure in the cause of freedom and the ‘rule of law’. Until very recently, the anti-Jewish prejudice have been an exception in these islands. Now, due to the malicious governance of leftist political elites, the demographic of this English nation is being changed by mass-immigration. Anti-Jewish sentiments are to be heard everywhere among the new arrivals. This psychopathic racism goes unpunished.
As can be seen from the uniformity of the commentary already recorded about this book, the Jew and Israel has to be misrepresented and condemned unremittingly. The concentration of hatred, the invective, the incoherence of the arguments, seem to be symptomatic of an incurable major disease. The mention of no other nation or people produces this intensity of reaction: such is the alleged damage the ‘children of Israel’ has inflicted by just existing.
It is clear that after millenniums the followers of the Judeo faith will never receive a fair hearing in this world, in this life. And yet the distinguished Harvard jurist Professor Alan Dershowitz has attempted to try for simple justice. He has set out a closely argued legal defence, supported by the evidence of international treaty and international guarantees of national security of tenure, but all to no avail. According to the statistics a majority of the nations of the World support the policy of the obliteration of the State of Israel and the genocide of the worldwide Jewish people by Arab terrorism. That members of my Christian faith express these opinions, having been raised on the message of the Holy Bible, suggests the World has lost its way.
136 of 199 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2010
One must credit Mr Dershovitz's passion in what he believes. But this is quite possibly the most dishonest book I have ever read.
Much of the book is dedicated to criticising Noam Chomsky and his writings on the Israel-Palestine issue. Some of those criticisms are in fact well made as Chomsky can also be rather selective of his facts when it suits him to be. But it is quite remarkeable that his accusations that Chomsky delights in misleading his readers does not prevent Dershowitz from doing exactly the same to his readers. Here are just a few of the ways in which Mr Dershowitz is dishonest:
- He repeatedly states that Israel has done more to uphold the rule of law and protect human rights that any other country faced with similar threats in history. He specifcally refers to the British in Northern Ireland as an example - unsurprisingly he offers no supporting evidence for this repeated assertion. I am from Northern Ireland, and I would be perceived as being on the nationalist (i.e. anti-british side of that conflict). But I never remember the British government demolishing the houses of those who just happen to be part of the community that opposed the government; of course, this isn't really that important to Dershowitz as all those whose houses were destroyed are not real victims anyway (see below). Nor do I remember the British using very substantial military fire power and directing it often indiscriminately into residential areas. I do remember the British government shooting unarmed civilians in 1972, 13 of whom died on Bloody Sunday. The British Government has been heavily criticised ever since and has recently admitted that the killings were "unjustified and unjustifiable". This leads nicely onto Dershowitz's next blatant lie:
- That no other country has ever received similar criticism for the kinds of actions that have been perpetrated by the Israeli state. How many children have now been shot by Israeli troops? Again, to Dershowitz their not real victims though - without any evidence to back this up he basically accuses all those children who have been killed of throwing bombs, grenades and stones. Yes that's right, a child throwing a stone is not really a victim if an israeli soldier responds - proportionately in Dershowitz's mind - by shooting them.
- He states that the population of mandatory Palestine was majority Jewish. He quotes a single rather obscure reference to back this up but fails to address the fact that pretty much every history book on the matter, including those which are pro-israeli, seem to agree that Jews made up only approximately a third of the population at the time of partition. Indeed, at other places in his own book he quotes in support of his argument on other matters the UN sourcs which include the figures from that period and which clearly support the real history re the figures. Obviously, Dershowitz doesn't feel the need to address this anomoly.
- He not only criticises equally partisan commentators who oppose his views, such as Chomsky, but in effect, portrays the majority of criticism directed at Israel as equally partisan and, yes, anti-semitic. So while he states that he has "never heard a mere critic of Israel be accused of anti-semitism," the whole jist of his book is that those people who criticise israel are pretty much wrong about every issue that is in dispute and the only way that their passionate criticism can be explained is, yes, you guessed it, anti-semitism.
This is just a few of the very obvious dishonisties that make up the bulk of Dershowitz's book.
It is not just dishonesty that is the problem though. Some of his arguments are so absurd that it is difficult to understand how anyone can take them seriously. For instance:
- To read his book, Israel has been in the right in relation to pretty much every disputed issue that there is between the two communities and those that argue otherwise, are unreasonable, ill-informed and often, anti-semitic. Anyone familiar with any conflict situation will know that this suggestion is simply absurd. In conflict situations wrongs are always committed by and against both sides. As a man who has never actually experienced a conflict, Dershowtiz of course wouldn't know this. Though he doesn't let that prevent him from spouting hate-filled drivel and then accuse all of Israel's critics of prolonging the conflict and condoning palestinian terrorism.
- He states that he diagrees with the policy of destroying the houses of Palestinians, not because it is wrong but because it will not prevent terrorism. He then proceeds to say "however, no person could reasonably argue that to do so is a breach of anyone's human rights" or words to that effect. It's quite remarkable to think that he is a lawyer and yet he seems to be wholly unfamiliar with key rights enshrined in many regional and international legal instruments, which sepcifcally protect right to family life, right to property, and the right to be free from inhumane and degrading treatment; not to mention the rights of children: even if he is right that only home owners who have harboured terrorists - something which I sincerely doubt - what about the children who also lose their home when it is demolished by the Israeli government. It is difficult to see how a reasonable person could argue that such actions are NOT a breach of human rights.
I could go on.
Despite my criticisms, however, I still believe that this is essential reading. It not only gives insight into the thinking of a highly partisan, highly blinkered Zionist, but if you come to it with an open mind, it will also make you think about whether the criticism directed at israel is always justfied. Some of it may well not be; or at least there may be countries that often remain below our radar which are equally deserving of criticism. It is perhaps this aspect of Dershowtiz's book that does need to be taken seriously. But please read with a very critical eye and check his "facts" very carefully.
Just one other thing: while I would recommend reading the book, please, I urge you, buy a second hand copy. A man as dishonest as this is certainly not worthy of your hard earned money.
10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2014
Dershowitz was exposed in the above book and even debated by Norman Finkelstein who wrote the aforementioned book in regards to his academic fraud
73 of 120 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2008
Inaccurate and tendentious throughout. For example, he writes "historians believe that the Hebrews arrived in present-day Israel sometime in the second millennium B.C.E. Under Joshua, and later King David and his successors, independent Hebrew kingdoms existed." In fact, no respected Christian, Jewish or secular historian argues that an independent Hebrew kingdom ever existed under Joshua. Not even the Bible claims that Joshua was a king or had a kingdom! We have no demographic data to support his claim that Jews formed the main part of the population for most of the sixteen hundred years between 1000 BCE and 636 CE.
This cavalier disregard for truth and historical accuracy is typical. Dershowitz is after all a lawyer, not a scholar, trained to make the best possible case for his client, not to investigate the truth. Read instead Avi Shlaim's The Iron Wall.
73 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2009
It's fairly easy to get a hopelessly biased, blatantly pro Palestinian book that has little basis in fact. It's a little bit more difficult to get what this book is, namely a hopelessly biased, blatantly pro Israeli book that has little basis in fact. It intentionally misrepresents the other side's arguments, making them very easy to refute, and also often makes sure to focus on particular details while making sure to leave out the context. For example, much is made of the Palestinian / Arab support of Germany during WW2, as evidence that the Jewish people were at risk of extermination in the Middle East (therefore justifying all that happened afterwards). Even a schoolchild could figure out that Arab support for Germany at the time had much more to do with getting the British and French out of the region than any purported hatred for the Jews.
As an international lawyer myself, I must also say that the author's twisting of international law is pretty astounding; the Balfour Declaration as binding international law? That's a new one. And even a non lawyer will have little difficulty seeing through the author's argument about the Israeli use of torture. Until the supreme court decision that the author makes so much out of, Israel was the only country in the world that practised legal torture. Yes, things are much better now since the supreme court decision (though torture is still pretty routine in Occupied Palestine), and certainly things are better than they are in other Middle Eastern countries. But that Israel's neighbours have a worse record does not in any way justify what Israel does.
Still, this book is worth skimming through, just because it will give you an insight into the Israeli viewpoint. Most of us in the West have the impression of Israel as being a "normal", secular country; "the only democracy in the Middle East". There is of course some truth to that (certainly Israel is much more democratic than its neighbours), but if you live here you will soon realise that even the most secular Israelis tend to be obsessed with the idea that the entire world is ganging up against their country and their people, and that this has always has been the case. This siege mentality (I would dare call it a victim mentality) is drummed into the Israeli psyche from a very early age, and it is through this lens that they see all that happens in the international stage. This book is a very good example of how reality is twisted beyond recognition, to fit this worldview.
It's scary, yes, but that is how things are, and it has to be dealt with if there is ever going to be peace in the Middle East. The fact of the matter is that neither side has a monopoly on the truth in this conflict, and as the author to this book says (in probably one of the only passages I agree with), we have to get beyond "who did what to whom" if we are ever going to progress.
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2014
Setting solid ground for understanding what's happening in Israel, with healthy amount of criticism of Israel itself. My only wish is that book would extend beyond 2003!
But explains very well the history, and breaks some anti Israeli myths like Israel is and "apharteid state" or conducting genocide.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2015
Plays fast and loose with facts and sources, largely discredited by Finkelstein's 'Beyond Chutzpah'..
Not a credit to an eminent lawyer !
89 of 152 people found the following review helpful
This timely book introduces the reader to the "World of the Israeli", providing what is described as a detailed and penetrating analysis of the issues fuelling the continuing war against the Jewish State of Israel, both in the field of propaganda & on the ground itself. This is an extremely well written book which reveals a side to the conflict rarely heard. An utterly compelling and highly recommended read.
A whole plethora of secular issues are discussed in this work in order to provide a pro-active defence of the Jewish State. Despite this the book declares that it in no way defends every policy or action of the Israeli Government but vehemently defends the right of Israel to exist and to protect it's citizens from terrorism under the principle of self defence afforded every sovereign nation. The contents of this work depicting this principle as frequently being denied Israel by some elements of the International community. The latter being depicted as regularly singling out the Jewish State for unique criticism which is not directed at any other nations or at it's neighbouring Arab countries for that matter. The latter entities being demonstrated as having far worse human rights records than Israel. An underlying attitude described in the book as "International bigotry" which crosses the line into the realms of anti-Semitism.
The book addresses many fundamental points such as the historical fact that the Palestinians have been offered Statehood on three separate occasions, in 1937, 1947 and 2000-2001. On each occasion the book describes how each offer was rejected and on each occasion the response has been increased terrorism. A parallel issue addressed here is that the Palestinian Arabs never sought Statehood when they were "occupied" by Jordan and Egypt and that the claim began as a tactic to eliminate the Jewish State of Israel. The PLO even being formed by Egypt in 1964 when the "West Bank" and Gaza are described as being Arab occupied. The Arab-Israeli wars also receive attention and the book documents how it was actually the Arabs that were responsible for the Palestinian "refugee" issue.
The so called "settlement" issue is also addressed, with references being shown that the Arabs/Palestinians refused to make peace with Israel when there were no "settlements" in existence and also when Ehud Barak offered to remove them all. The Sinai "settlement" issue being illustrated as no barrier to the "peace" agreement between Israel and Egypt. The book declaring that the real barrier to "peace" is that the Palestinians are utterly unwilling to accept the existence of a Jewish State in ANY part of what they describe as "Palestine".
The book describes that Palestinian propagandists regularly invoke the "human rights" issue merely as a tactic against Israel, whilst the Palestinian Authority is depicted here as having no respect for tolerance or human rights itself with a policy of "torturing and killing alleged collaborators", often publicly, without even a semblance of a due process of law or trial. An issue which is described as being of little consequence to World opinion, which prefers to concentrate on alleged Israel wrongdoings.
Also relating to "human rights" the book investigates the UNHCR and what it describes as a substantive assault upon Israel, quoting the vast percentage of it's resolutions being against Israel which is the only nation to be subject to an entire agenda EVERY year. By comparison the book shows that the UNHCR has never passed a resolution against states such as Syria, China, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Chad, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen or Zimbabwe, all of which are depicted as committing gross and systematic human rights abuses.
Another disturbing issue addressed is that in chapter 29 of society's growing willingness to attach what is described as a "moral equivalence between Palestinian terrorism & Israeli responses to terrorism." A parallel issue also being addressed is the alleged "moral equivalence" between Palestinians casualties sustained during acts of violence/terrorism against Israeli targets and the Israeli casualties sustained amongst innocent civilians just going about their daily lives.
The Balfour Declaration is also studied & the promise of a Jewish homeland in then "Palestine" and how the British detached 80% of the original area and created an Arab State in the land with a Palestinian majority named Transjordan. (An Arab emirate which the book describes as demanding the total exclusion of all Jews). The book illustrates how this left the Jews with only a small remaining area, which the UN saw fit to divide further between the Jews and the "Palestinian Arabs" at a later date. Something which the book describes the Jews as still being prepared to accept, whilst the Arabs rejected even this offer.
The allegations of Israel being a "racist state" are also examined and dismissed. Parallel attention is also paid to every other "State" in the area, including the Palestinian Authority which is described as having an officially established religion (Islam), discriminating both in law and in fact against non-Muslims, especially Jews. Chapter 21 contrasting Israel as a secular state which is religiously/racially pluralistic, allowing freedom of religion for all, quoting neighbouring Jordan as just one regional example as having a law explicitly prohibiting Jews from citizenship.
Reference is also made to what are depicted as the "far superior" territorial claims of the Tibetans, Kurds, Basques, Chechens, Turkish Armenians & other stateless groups who pursue their own homeland. The claims of these groups described as being leap-frogged in terms of World attention due to the Palestinian murder of thousands of innocent people. Groups like the Tibetans never having resorted to violence and others only spasmodically. Yet, in what the book describes as "repeatedly rewarding Palestinian terrorism", the UN has accorded the PLO far greater recognition than any other stateless group which has not resorted to terrorism.
91 of 158 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2003
Mr Dershowitz's book is a most succinct and well argued "proactive defence" of Israel's right to exist. His book is set out with clear chapters, each addressing single issues such as "Why have more Palestinians that Israelis been killed?" or "Did Israel create the Arab Refugee Problem?". Each of these chapters is started with examples of quotes from the accusers: these are followed by a carefully crafted, well researched and concise argument to disprove each accusation.
The clarity of thought behind these arguments is easy to understand and only displays the mark of a lawyer in the way each point is carefully baked with evidence. It is an easy read and not at all "legalese".
The fact that Israel needs a defence of its right to exist is interesting in itself but, having read many, many books on this subject, I found this one to be a very clear summation of the issues. I would recommend it to anyone who feels they may not be getting the full story from contemporary news sources, especially in the UK.