I could probably devote a post-per-day to the outrageous conduct of Alan Dershowitz, and then I realized that there's already someone on the case. I'm glad Norman Finkelstein has the patience for that job, because I certainly do not. I saw Finkelstein on the subway a few weeks ago, and decided not to go up and say hello - not out of some kind of respect for the celebrity privacy (most academic celebrities LOVE it when people recognize them on the street), - but because I thought if people on the train in Brooklyn knew who he was they might lynch him based on all the slander printed about him, including Dershowitz's recent suggestion that Finkelstein was in Teheran at the Holocaust Denial conference...when in fact Professor Finkelstein was testifying at a trial in Chicago that day.
So, I'm sure you've heard the latest. Dershowitz is part of the media blitz attacking Jimmy Carter. In his critiques of Carter he marhsals the usual set of fabrications, falsehoods, and misquotations. Dershowitz's articles are peculiarly characterized by comments suggesting that Carter's evangelical Christianity is behind his critiques of Israeli policy (which in Dershowitz's eyes are not critiques of policy but, an "unrelenting attack against Israel."). Perhaps he's mad that Carter refused to debate him at Brandeis on the basis that Dershowitz knows nothing about what's going on in Israel/Palestine.
If you google "Carter" and "Dershowitz" you will quickly discover, if you hadn't figured it out yet, that the Blogosphere's axis tilts to the right, and most of the headlines scream about Carter's refusal to debate Dershowitz as if the latter were the great savior of the Western world. (To explain their inconsistancy, if you follow the links, the Freepers describe Dershowitz as a "Hitchens liberal" who's "wised up" in the aftermath of 9/11.)
I used to find Finkelstein's single-minded pursuit of errors in Dershowitz's work to be a bit maniacal, but I understand it much better now. Dershowitz functions in the same way as Bill O'Reilly does at Fox News. He lies and distorts, but his impact is greater than O'Reilly's because he claims to be a liberal and he teaches at Harvard. If only people would recognize that Dershowitz is a fraud and a plagiarist, Finkelstein argues, based on the evidence he has provided, his propaganda for the state of Israel would be much less effective. And yet, as Finkelstein also points out, despite his own thorough expose of Dershowitz's scholarly dishonesty, it is Dershowitz who gets the podium, who is described as an expert, while good people everywhere might imagine that Finkelstein is some kind of wing-nut "Holocaust denier."
As my colleague at work demonstrated in his arguments against every critique of Israel that I presented, the propaganda machine has an effective method for warding off reality. Zionist propagandists meet every critic of Israeli policy, from Human Rights Watch to Jimmy Carter with the accusation of participation in a world-wide anti-semitic conspiracy. Therefore, regardless of what the critic says, the very fact of his or her criticism becomes evidence for the Zionist cause. For social psychologists, it may suggest that propaganda techniques are based in paranoid defenses.
Even thinking about this debate is tiring. I'm already exhausted and it's not even 9am yet.