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UCLA Magazine Winter 2003
The Rising
Honorable Intentions
The Cardinal of Westwood
The Littlest Bruin
Sensing the Future
Dershowitz, For the Defense
Bruin Walk

University Communications

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Winter 2003
Dershowitz, For the Defense
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Garrett: There's wide consensus in the U.S. on the left and right that support for Israel should be the basic policy of the United States. If you go outside the U.S., that's just not true at all. And since the 1967 war, in fact, I think it has been a central tenet of the foreign policies of many countries, many stable democracies, in the world that the center left is basically pro-Palestinian and not pro-Israel.
Dershowitz: In America, it is the hard left that is virulently anti-Israel, the hard academic left, the [MIT Professor] Noam Chomsky left, which is totally unrepresentative of the left in America. I agree that among many Europeans, to an increasing degree the left center has been pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. But I think it's also increasingly true in many parts of Europe that the centrist right is turning against Israel. The hard right has always been against Israel, because there is an anti-Semitic hard right, which in the main we don't have in America.

By the way, I meet a lot of Europeans who are more critical of Israel in public than they are in private. There are Europeans, center left and center right, who privately are glad that Israel is there keeping democracy alive and radical Islam in check. But they are not ready to say that in public. The reality is that there is a different perception of Israel in most parts of Europe than there is in the United States. If you ask a simple question about positive or negative views, many more Americans will have positive views of Israel. Many more Europeans will have negative views of Israel. It may reflect the fact that the generational issues we are seeing today, of college students being influenced by lots of anti-Israel attitudes on campus, happened 20 years earlier in Europe.

Garrett: In a world where reasoned discourse is so hard to achieve and all that one sees is stridency of the forms you have mentioned, how can one generate a productive and meaningful dialogue on Israel and the Palestinians?
Dershowitz: The unnuanced criticism of Israel, the "you're the worst, you're a human-rights violator, you're genocidal," makes it hard for people like me to present nuanced criticism of Israel because we don't want to become part of the cacophonous chorus of immoral condemnation. But my message is be critical of Israel. Be critical of every country. Make the case against Israel if you want to. Make the case against Jordan. Make the case against Egypt. But make it in a nuanced, comparative and fair manner. And then, I think, we can go forward with debates about peace and about progress.

Garrett: Do you have a personal peace plan?
Dershowitz: The two-state solution is the only appropriate solution. It's the one I have always advocated; it's the one that very few Palestinian leaders actually advocate. They are not prepared to say two states. They are not prepared to say, "I recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state." When the Palestinian leaderships want their own state more than they want the end of the Jewish state, there will be a two-state solution.

Here's my road map. Israel should take the first step. And I think Israel's first step should be an announcement that it is prepared to end most of the settlements, that it is prepared to dismantle specific settlements on a date certain, say January 1, 2004. But it will be conditional on several things happening. The first is, Palestinian best efforts to dismantle terrorist groups. If there were no terrorist acts between now and January 1, the settlements would be dismantled. But you never want to give the terrorists the veto. So even if there were terrorist acts, as there will be, between now and January 1, if the Palestinians had made best efforts, if the Palestinian Authority had taken significant steps, then Israel would dismantle. And if best efforts were not made during that period of time, the dismantling would be postponed. The reason for that is very important: You cannot ever reward terrorism; you must always reward steps taken to end terrorism.

That's my proposal. I'd love to see a two-state solution. I'd love to see peace. I think that if the Palestinians had accepted Camp David and Taba, they would today be a Palestinian state with the wealthiest per capita Arabs in the Middle East. They would have a Marshall Plan. They would have a wonderful educational system with universities open to democracy. Instead, they have violence, hatred, ignorance and death because their leaders want the end of the Jewish state more than the beginning of a Palestinian state.

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