The Right Coast

April 21, 2004
No anti-Semitism Here
By Mike Rappaport

Alan Dershowitz recounts this incident:
    The other day . . . I was receiving a justice award from the Jewish Council on Public Affairs and delivering a talk on Civil Liberties in the Age of Terrorism from the podium of that historic hall. When I left, award in hand, I was accosted by a group of screaming, angry young men and women carrying virulently anti-Israel signs. . . . Although the signs they were carrying were not anti-Semitic, the sign carriers were shouting epithets at me that crossed the line from civility to bigotry: "Dershowitz and Hitler, just the same, the only difference is the name."

    The sin that, in the opinion of the screamers, warranted this comparison between me and the man who murdered dozens of my family members was my support for Israel. It was irrelevant to these chanters that I also support a Palestinian state, the end of the Israeli occupation and the dismantling of most of the settlements.

    One sign carrier shouted that Jews who support Israel are worse than Nazis. Another demanded that I be tortured and killed. It wasn't only their words; it was the hatred in their eyes. If a dozen Boston police were not protecting me, I have little doubt I would have been physically attacked. Their eyes were ablaze with fanatical zeal. The feminist writer Phyllis Chesler aptly described the hatred often directed against Israel and supporters of the Jewish state by some young people as eroticized. That is what I saw: passionate hatred, ecstatic hatred, orgasmic hatred. It was beyond mere differences of opinion. When I looked into their faces, I could imagine young Nazis in the 1930s in Hitlers Germany.