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David Bedein

David Bedein: Assessing Alan Dershowitz's View of Peace

by David Bedein, April 30, 2013

At the Jerusalem Post Conference on April 28, 2013, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz once again declare that he has received assurances from Palestinian Authority leader Machmud Abbas, AKA Abu Mazen, that there is a Palestinian Authority partner for peace.

The commonly held assumptions on which Prof. Dershowtiz bases his optimism about  Middle East.  Are  delineated in Dershowitz's book, The Case for Peace (Wiley and Sons, NYC, 2005)

The time has come to review the assumptions that guide Dershowitz's thinking, as expressed in  Dershowitz's book, The Case for Peace (Wiley and Sons, NYC, 2005).

These are Dershowitz's assumptions:

Palestinian willingness to compromise on the right of return?

Professor Dershowitz asserts that the "Palestinian leadership seems willing to compromise on the right of return," yet he cannot find any footnote to support any such newsworthy assertion. He also states that "Although Mahmood Abbas insisted on a full right of return during his election campaign, he has, since becoming president, moderated his stance somewhat." Yet Dershowitz relies only on a New York Times correspondent who thinks that this is the case, and cannot point to any such statement by Abbas to his own people in his own language and media.

Meanwhile, Professor Dershowitz calls for the "symbolic recognition" of the "rights of Palestinian refugees' which would include a "compensation package and some family reunification, without addressing implications of what it would mean for Israel if the Jewish State were to absorb a hostile population in its midst, without addressing the issue of who would choose which families would be "reunited".

For some reason, Professor Dershowitz does not consider the legal precedent that such recognition would create for all Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendants who demand the "right of return." While he writes that Palestinians stake claim to all lands lost in 1967, he neglects to mention that the PLO claims all lands lost in all of their wars with Israel in the context of the consistent PLO demands for the realization of the "right of return" to lands lost in 1948.

Instead, Prof. Dershowitz calls on Israel to allow for a "reasonable number" of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to their "homes" in Israel, yet he does not address the situation that would be created if, say, Israel were to allow 5% of the four million refugees and their descendents now registered with UNRWA's refugee camps to "return," an act that would force Israel to allow 200,000 people from a hostile entity to reside in Israel itself.

And he brings no source whatsoever to the possibility that the PLO would accept any such "compromise."

Professor Dershowitz asserts that the Palestinian leadership "would have to waive or compromise the broad, collective political 'right' to turn Israel into another Palestinian state by orchestrating a mass return of Palestinians to Israel," yet he produces no evidence that the Palestinian leadership would make any such move..

Professor Dershowitz posits that "Israel should declare, in principle, its willingness to give up the captured territories in return for a firm assurance of lasting peace," yet he does not show any hint o evidence that the PLO would be willing to provide any such "firm assurance".

Dividing Jerusalem Leading to Peace?

Perhaps most astonishing of all is Dershowitz's call for a "division of greater Jerusalem," with the "Arab part becoming the capital of the Palestinian State," without relating to the fact that Arab & Jewish neighborhoods are intertwined in Jerusalem. For example, when you drive from the Israeli neighborhood of Gilo to Katamon, you travel through the Arab neighborhood of Beit Tzfafa. And when you travel from the Israeli neighborhoods of Neve Yaakov to French Hill, you traverse the Shuafat and Beit Hanina. And when you travel from Mount Scopus to the center of town, you traverse Wadi Jose. Imagine what it would be like to have to negotiate a PLO army base in the middle of Jerusalem. In other words, his suggestion would mean that PLO armed forces would be placed at the edge of every Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. Yet he asserts that "Jerusalem must be divided for peace," without saying on what basis he comes to the conclusion that relinquishing neighborhoods of Jerusalem to the PLO, which remains at war with Israel, would lead to peace. He advocates "Palestinian sovereignty in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem," without explaining to the reader that sovereignty means guns in the hands of the PLO in Jerusalem, and that if his suggestion were implemented, it would be life-threatening to Jews throughout Jerusalem.

Prof. Dershowitz also asserts that the "Moslem Quarter should be under Palestinian or Islamic Authority," without taking into consideration the Jewish population who live and own property in the Moslem Quarter, which, by the way, has only been known as the "Moslem Quarter" since the Mufti-inspired expulsion of the Jewish population in that part of Jerusalem in 1936. He also asserts that the Temple Mount, on which two mosques stand, "should be largely under the sovereignty and control of the Palestinians and Moslems," without taking into consideration that such sovereignty would mean possession of weapons, which would allow armed Palestinians to threaten lives of Jewish worshipers below at the Western Wall Plaza.

Palestinian Leadership Desire for Peace?

Somehow, Prof. Dershowitz comes to the conclusion that "mainstream Israelis and mainstream Palestinians, along with their respective governments, are largely on the same side: they all want peace, compromise and a two state solution," yet no one has ever found mainstream Palestinians who make such expressions of compromise in the official publications, radio or TV broadcasts of the official Arabic language Palestinian Authority media.

Professor Dershowitz posits that the "only real hope for peace is that the current Palestinian leadership will be more like the pragmatic leadership of the Jewish Agency in 1937 and 1948," yet he provides no evidence that the PA leadership has expressed any such pragmatism in their public statements to their own people in the Arabic language.

Professor Dershowitz refers to preventive measures by PA armed forces against terrorists, yet he brings no sources to support any such measures.

Professor Dershowitz gives credence to the assertion of Tom Friedman from the New York Times that "hot pursuit" of terrorists does not work, yet he does not say on what basis he accepts that premise. He does not relate to the fact that the IDF's dispatch of troops inside Palestinian population centers, since April 2002, has served to curtail infiltrations of terrorists

Professor Dershowitz contends that Abbas condemned a terror attack in Tel Aviv in February, 2005, yet brings no evidence from Palestinian Authority Arabic language media to support that assertion, and makes no mention of the honor that the official Arabic language Palestinian Authority media afforded these kill

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