In defending himself against the Muslim Legal Defense and Education Fund’s disciplinary complaint, Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz considers his controversial article in light of the recent Tom Paulin flap: “He wants to kill Jews and they’re complaining that I said to knock down a few buildings that harbor terrorists.” (News, “Muslim Lawyers File Dershowitz Complaint,” Nov. 22) This description of his own article will astonish anyone who happens to have read it. “A New Response to Palestinian Terror,” published in the Jerusalem Post last spring, does not call for knocking down a few buildings; it calls for the literal erasure of entire villages from the map. His article’s proposal is clear and unequivocal: the automatic and wholesale destruction of entire Palestinian villages will be an appropriate response—and an effective disincentive—to acts of terrorism. If he regrets having made that argument, he ought to retract it openly. Anyone who doubts that “knocking down a few buildings” grossly misrepresents what Dershowitz has proposed should read his article.
Paulin’s words—hateful and incendiary as they were—came out in a flash of anger and rhetoric, and they directly contradict his longstanding and vocal support for the peace process and a two-state solution. Dershowitz’s words constitute a policy proposal, not a flash of rhetorical fury; disturbing as they are, they represent his considered opinion and are consistent with his views as we know them. This difference should be borne in mind when we hold each to account for his role in exacerbating this bloody conflict.
Curtis M. Brown
Nov. 22, 2002
The writer is a fifth-year graduate student in the Department of English and American Language and Literature.