Alan Dershowitz was in the mood to prosecute. The accused: the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
“The goal of the BDS movement is to miseducate a generation of future leaders by lying to them,” he said in an interview on Wednesday, “by demonizing, delegitimizing, discriminating against and applying a double standard to the nation state of the Jewish people. The answer to that is emet – truth.”
Or EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, the Washington think tank whose annual dinner the retired Harvard law professor was about to address.
“Why do we face a danger from BDS? It’s failing on every college campus. It has never actually succeeded in getting any university to divest,” he said. “We will win. In the United States, we will win in virtually every battle on campus; that’s the good news. The bad news, is while we’re winning, we’re losing. The goal of BDS is not to actually get universities to divest, its goal is actually to mis-educate students. “
The audience for Dershowitz’s 35-minute speech in the ballroom of Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington included 350 supporters of EMET, members of Congress and media personalities. Dershowitz, who received the group’s Speaker of Truth award, hailed first amendment lawyer Nathan Lewin, his mentor and friend for 50 years, who was in attendance.
Dershowitz said in an interview that if BDS were a legitimate movement, it would not single out Israel.
“If there were such a thing as a BDS movement, if it sought to boycott, divest and sanction – generally – and sought to apply these death penalty economic penalties, it would be across the board to all countries in the world,” said Dershowitz. “That would be a movement. It would have to apply the major rule of human rights, and to always go after the worst offenders first. You go after those countries where there is no opportunity for the victims to seek relief within the country, through the judiciary, through the media, through legislation.”
He said that based on his criteria, Israel would be ranked 196th on the list.
Dershowitz arrived at the Grand Hyatt just hours after two Palestinian gunmen shot and killed four Israelis and wounding 16 in Tel Aviv.
In his speech, Dershowitz said that it remains vital for Israel advocates to fight vigorously in the face of miseducation on college campuses. He praised New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for signing an executive order last week that required all New York State agencies to divest from companies supporting the BDS movement.
In signing the order, New York became the first state to take executive action against the BDS movement.
Dershowitz lambasted Jewish Voice for Peace, a proponent of BDS, saying that the organization used “the argument by ethnic affiliation,” to justify its derision toward Israel. The group is “not pro-peace, it is anti-Israel,” he said.
Jewish Voice for Peace believes in “freedom, justice and equality for all people,” according to its website, and “that the time-honored, non-violent tools proposed by the BDS call provide powerful opportunities to make that vision real.”
Dershowitz reiterated that the BDS movement has seeds of anti-Semitism. “[Within it], there are insidious purposes. We have to fight it. I am optimistic we are winning the argument,” he said.