Alan Dershowitz was in Rome today speaking about his most recent book, The Case Against Israel’s Enemies, which just came out in Italian. I was there, and I took notes. (You can hear his press conference–in English–here.)
Here’s what he said, or what I felt was worth remembering (for the rest, you can read his trilogy of books on the subject).
1) Israel is a Jewish country in the same way that Italy is a Italian country. That is, it is not a theocracy ruled by halakha, but a liberal democracy whose inhabitants are for the most part Jews. Apparently this is still a hotly debated point.
2) When it comes to Israel, the Catholic Church imposes moral equivalence. This is especially relevant in light of the Pope’s upcoming trip to Israel. Dershowitz spoke at length about the Church’s failure to grasp its own ideas of “reconciliation”, as if the millennial war against the Jewish people by the Catholic Church is a conflict for which both sides must beg forgiveness. Not so, says Dershowitz. This is blatantly hypocritical rhetoric designed to draw a moral parallel between the aggressor and the victim of aggression. Such unwillingness to confront its own sordid history prevents the Church (understood as the Vatican, not the mass of people calling themselves Catholics) from taking a morally relevant side in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The result, as we have seen, is the Pope’s frequent calls for “peace” and “an end to the violence by both sides.”
3) What I will terms Dershowitz’s Two Laws:
a. If Israel’s enemies put down their weapons tomorrow–all of them–there would be peace.
b. If Israel puts down its weapons–all of them–tomorrow, there would be genocide.
Talking to people afterwards, I got the impression that some Catholics felt he had been hard on the Church. I felt he hadn’t been hard enough, perhaps.