Last month I wrote an article called “Norman Finkelstein’s Obscenities,” a response to Finkelstein’s latest screed, “Should Alan Dershowitz Target Himself for Assassination?” As the title of the article suggests, Finkelstein puts forward in his article what he believes to be a justification for my assassination as a war criminal, based on my support for Israel.
Nor was this the only obscenity in the article. Not by a long shot. As I wrote in my article, Finkelstein piece was accompanied by a:
cartoon drawn by “Latuff”, a frequent accomplice of Finkelstein. The cartoon portrayed me as masturbating in rapturous joy while viewing images of dead Lebanese civilians on a TV set labeled “Israel peep show,” with a Jewish Star of David prominently featured.
I found out recently that Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder and editor of Tikkun magazine, has been circulating the Finkelstein article from his Tikkun e-mail account and under Tikkun letterhead. Lerner apparently didn’t have the stomach to attach the cartoon, despite the fact that the inspiration for the disgusting cartoon comes directly from what Finkelstein writes in the article circulated by Rabbi Lerner, as I showed in my previous article:
The cartoon aptly represents the content of Finkelstein’s piece, which accuses me of being a “moral pervert” who “missed the climactic scene of his little peep show.” He also claims quite absurdly that I “sanction mass murder” and “the extermination of the Lebanese people.” (I’m surprised he hasn’t accused me of kicking of puppy dogs, scowling at little children, and parking in handicapped spaces.)
This is from a rabbi who modestly purports to devote himself “to peace, justice, non-violence, generosity, caring, love and compassion.” This is a rabbi who purports to observe the Jewish commandments against evil words (“lashon harah”) and bearing false witness. This is a man who ardently opposes Israel’s targeted assassination of Hamas leaders, but who apparently has no qualms about the assassination of pro-Israel academics. That’s a rather peculiar definition of “peace, justice, and non-violence” Rabbi Lerner is employing.
This is not the first time that Lerner has served as a megaphone for Finkelstein’s hate speech. Lerner published an article-length version of one of Finkelstein’s screeds in Tikkun, complete with Finkelstein’s hateful thesis: “Alongside Israel [American Jewish elites] are the main fomenters of anti-Semitism in the world today… They need to be stopped.” (Finkelstein had previously called American Jews “parasites.”) In the same book that Lerner was promoting, Finkelstein invoked some of the most crass anti-Semitic caricatures found in contemporary America, “Should people like Abraham Foxman, Edgar Bronfman, and Rabbi Israel Singer [who are prominent Jewish leaders] get a free ride because they resemble stereotypes straight out of Der Sturmer?” Can you imagine a professor issuing a similar description of a woman or a Muslim, or describing the Pope according to an anti-Catholic stereotype? Can you imagine Tikkun publishing an author who falsely described Rabbi Lerner as resembling a stereotype “straight out of Der Sturmer”?
Lerner tried to weasel out of what he had done by saying the he forwarded the Finkelstein article because I had called him “an anti-Semitic rabbi” in one of my books. (What I actually wrote is that “even a rabbi can support anti-Semitic actions” – as Lerner did when he supported divestment from Israel and only Israel – which is quite different from calling him “an anti-Semitic rabbi,” but never mind.) As a defense lawyer, I would recommend to Lerner that he would be better situated to defend against those charges if he didn’t so eagerly associate with anti-Semites and publish Jew-hating rants.
Through his nefarious association with Norman Finkelstein, who is a genuine Jew-hater, Michael Lerner has forever disqualified himself from being taken seriously on matters of Jewish concern, the Jewish community, or Israel.
Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard. His most recent book is Preemption: A Knife that Cuts Both Ways (Norton, 2006).
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