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Alan Dershowitz


By Alan Dershowitz, November 10, 2010

When I first became a professor at Harvard Law School, I was invited to join the Harvard Club in New York. I was anxious to become a member, especially at the reduced faculty rate, because I was traveling frequently to New York and it was a nice place to have lunch. But when I found out that they did not accept women, I could not join. Instead I pressured Harvard to sever its relationship with the club until and unless it extended full equality to female alum and faculty. It finally did so, but I never became a member. ??

Recently I was considering applying, but now that Eliot Spitzer has been turned down for membership, I have reconsidered my decision.
What possible basis was there for denying membership to this distinguished graduate of Harvard Law School, who served as my research assistant, and who then went on to become the Attorney General and Governor of New York? Was it because he used the services of a prostitute? Does the Harvard Club have a rule denying membership to any man who has ever paid for sex? If so, its membership roles would dwindle.

Is it because he committed adultery? Does the Harvard Club have a rule against adulterers (or now adulteresses)? If so, the membership roles would diminish even more.

Aha, the rule must be limited to those who get caught. But few people get caught, unless they are prominent public officials. So I guess Spitzer is being punished for his prior prominence. Maybe the rule applies only to those who have acted hypocritically. It is argued that Spitzer, while paying for sex, was prosecuting pimps and organized prostitution rings. But if hypocrisy was the basis for exclusion from the Harvard Club, you could count its members on the one hand of that old American League pitcher, Mordacai "Three Finger" Brown.

Maybe the members of the selection committee just didn't like Eliot Spitzer. Then they probably wouldn't like me either, because I don't think it's anybody's business, except his family, that he paid for sex outside of marriage.

I guess that's why I don't belong to "exclusive" clubs. I don't like exclusionary policies, membership selection committees, blackballs, vetoes, or all the other games clubs play in order to keep their membership "select."

So next time I'm in New York, I'm going to invite Eliot Spitzer to have lunch with me at my "club": Katz's Delicattesan, on the Lower East Side. They don't exclude anybody and the pastrami is better.


By Alan Dershowitz, October 26, 2010

Amidst all the brouhaha over CNN’s firing of Rick Sanchez for his remarks about Jews in the media, an important distinction is being missed.  Yes, there are many individual Jews in positions of influence in Hollywood, in network television, in sports and entertainment and in many other areas of American public life. These individuals, who happen to be Jewish, do not act together in any kind of conspiratorial manner. There is no “Jewish control” of any of these areas - or of the many other areas, such as medicine, law, academia, finance - where there are large numbers of individual Jews in high positions. Many of these individuals are Jewish only in the sense that their parents or grandparents happen to be Jews.  They do not live Jewish lives or support Jewish causes.  They certainly do not conspire to exercise any sort of “Jewish control” over the areas in which they work.
Indeed, many individual Jews who are in positions of authority are anti-Israel and critical of Jewish values. Others simply don’t care about these issues.
Whenever there are allegations of Jewish “control” over the “media,” the primary examples cited are The New York Times and the Washington Post. Both were founded by families of Jewish origin. But neither has ever gone out of its way to promote Jewish causes or values. The New York Times was derelict in reporting on the Holocaust and generally opposed the establishment of Israel. It remains critical of many current Israeli policies (as does the Washington Post).  Yet Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Meridiaga - who was a runner up for the papacy - blamed the Jewish-controlled media, particularly The New York Times, for the sex scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church.
Here is his "logic." He begins by asserting that the Vatican is anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. It follows, therefore, that "the Jews" had to get even with the Catholic Church, while at the same time deflecting attention away from Israeli injustices against the Palestinians.
The Jews managed to do this by arranging for the media which they, of course, control to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal.
Rodriguez compared the Jewish-controlled media with "Hitler," because they are "protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the Church."
The prime media culprit is, according to Rodriguez, The Boston Globe, which has won numerous journalistic awards for its exposure of the sex scandal and cover-up. The Globe, you see, is owned by The New York Times, which is controlled by the Sulzberger family, which was Jewish in origin. Hence the Jewish conspiracy. Oh, these clever Jews!
One problem with this cockamamie theory is that the Jewish community of Boston was very close to, and admiring of, Cardinal Bernard Law, who presided over the archdiocese during the scandal. Law had built bridges between the Catholic and Jewish communities of Boston, and when the scandal was exposed by the very un-Jewish Boston Globe the Jewish community remained largely supportive of Law.
None of the leading media critics, lawyers or politicians who railed against the church was Jewish. Most were Catholic. But that didn't matter to the bigoted cardinal, who along with other classic anti-Semites believes that if there is a problem "the Jews" must be to blame for it.
As the writer James Carrol, himself a Catholic, has characterized Rodriguez's "crackpot" mindset: "When the church has a problem, here is the oldest move of all, blame the Jews."
Others too insist on conflating individual Jews, who as individuals may have influence in the media, with “Jewish control” over the media.  Consider a recent column by Christopher Hitchens, who has called “for Jon Steward and others to join me in calling for Rick Sanchez’s reinstatement.”  Then listen to what he says:  “If it then didn’t happen, it would help us to understand who really pulls the strings around here.”  Who do you suppose he means by “who really pulls the strings?”  The “Jews” who control the media?  That certainly appears to be the implication.  What is he suggesting? That Jews actually get together to decide who gets fired and hired? Or maybe they don’t even have to get together, because they all think alike.  Hitchens knows enough individual Jews in the media to realize that “two Jews, three opinions” is a far more accurate characterization than some conspiratorial group-think by the Elders of Zion.
So let’s stop all this nonsense about Jewish control over the media and praise those individual Jews who, by dint of hard work and talent, have earned their place, as individuals, in so many areas of American life. I always thought that was the American dream.

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