Defending Dershowitz

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on October 6, 2003

This is probably one of those signs of the forthcoming apocalypse, along with dogs and cats living together, but I'm flabbergasted that Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz is being accused of "plagiarism." Dershowitz's latest book, "The Case for Israel," is a point-by-point apologia for the continuing existence of the state of Israel.

I finished reading the book yesterday, and the right of Israel to exist is likely one of the few points I'll ever agree with Dershowitz on. Dershowitz's book is well-sourced, well-organized and is an excellent read and good to have sitting on a shelf when you encounter Palestinian terror apologists and anti-Semites. My only disagreement with Dershowitz is his assertions that the Israeli government has occasionally overreacted to Palestinian terror attacks. I think Israel's mistake has been to react too tenatively to the terrorists.

Follow the link above and check out the reviews -- there are 1 stars and 5 stars but not much in between. The 1-stars are all anti-Semites and pro-Palestinian terror apologists. It's scary to read some of those "reviews."

So, what about the alleged plagiarism by Dershowitz? Well, the charge itself just shows you how far the pro-Palestinian conspiracy will go to discredit their accusers.

Norman G. Finkelstein first accused Dershowitz of plagiarism last Wednesday, when both professors were on a talk show called “Democracy Now!” to debate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The charge has also surfaced in the October edition of The Nation, in a column called “Alan Dershowitz, Plagiarist,” which cites Finkelstein’s research.

In an interview this weekend, Finkelstein accused Dershowitz of “wholesale lifting of source material” from Joan Peters’ book, From Time Immemorial, in which she argues that Jewish settlements predated the arrival of Palestinians in what is now Israel.

Finkelstein wrote a book contesting Peters’ argument—which he dismisses as a “monumental hoax”—and says he is therefore very familiar with her text.

He said that when he read Dershowitz’s book he recognized a lot of material—more than 20 quotes cited to primary and secondary sources—which mirrored the quotes Peters selected for use in her 1984 book.

Finkelstein argues that even though Dershowitz attributes those passages to their original sources, he should not have relied so heavily on Peters’ work.

What Finkelstein is really accusing Dershowitz of is "research." While researching a book he is writing, he references another book, checks out its sourcing and cites some of the same sources. He doesn't actually quote the intermediary book, because he's only used it as a kind of card catalog. Finkelstein provides no evidence of the kind of plagiarism (i.e. real plagiarism) that got the late Stephen E. Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin in trouble.

Dershowitz is the target, not unexpectedly, of an anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic hate campaign.

He's also laid out a challenge:

When he (Dershowitz) spoke on MSNBC’s radio earlier this month, he pledged $10,000 to the Palestinian Liberation Organization if someone could “find a historical fact in my book that [one] can prove false.”

I'm not going to hold my breath that anyone will actually be able to come up with such an instance, Dershowitz has done an excellent job.


[custom-twitter-feeds headertext="Hoystory On Twitter"]


October 2003



pencil linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram