Monday, March 6, 2006

Q&A Alan Dershowitz

First appeared in the Boston Globe.

"HISTORY ISN'T a court of law"--or so I insisted to Alan Dershowitz last week in a conference room at Harvard Law School. Dershowitz didn't strenuously argue the point, as I expected. He gave no sign of turning into the firebrand his wife calls "the Dersh character," famous for sarcasm and bad manners in public disputations. The Alan Dershowitz I met smiled graciously, and waited for me to go on.

I did so by referring to the comparison he made in "Chutzpah" (1991) between Palestinian refugees and city dwellers forced to relocate by the ordinary processes of urban renewal. Whatever weird sense that might make in some court of law, I said, it made no sense when it came to the dynamics of history. Dershowitz agreed, surprisingly, informing me that he'd learned a lot about Palestinian suffering since "Chutzpah," and that he has always opposed Israeli occupation of the West Bank and supported a two-state solution.