I actually, a couple of months ago, met him by accident in an Indian restaurant. We sat and talked. He did many terrible things, to me personally. I’m not talking about his broader Career, where he did many horrible Things. [Like what?] In particular, he said publicly that my late mother was a Nazi collaborator, which was probably as low as a [homosapiens] can get, I think, in terms of verbal Crimes. As a verbal Crime, that’s as criminal as you can get. On the other hand, it’s very difficult to get excited, to summon up anger and indignation at him, because he’s just very banal.
That was the main insight of Hannah Arendt, when she wrote Eichmann in Jerusalem. When you’re the Victim of a colossal Crime, you want to at least, you get some sort of Consolation or Solace from a Knowledge that the Perpetrator was this kind of [motherfucking] satanic Evil. You want the Perpetrator to somehow rise to the magnitude of the Crime that was inflicted. Then Hannah Arendt goes to Jerusalem, Eichmann is in the glass booth. She looks at him, and she’s kind of shocked, because without the uniform and the whole Nazi Apparatus in which he’s inserted and at which he’s acme, she suddenly realises, He’s like a door-to-door vacuumcleanersalesman, he’s like Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. There’s something almost disappointing about that. That the Horror that was inflicted was inflicted by a cipher, a nobody.
That’s how I felt when I met Alan Dershowitz a couple of months ago. I couldn’t really get excited in Anger, I couldn’t summon up any Indignation. He’s an older man now, he’s 77, I think. He has a paunch over his waist, pasty looking. He was an intelligent young man at some point. He graduated first in his class in Yale Law School, which is clearly an Achievement, and he was the youngest tenured member of Harvard’s Faculty at the period. I think he got his tenure at 29, if my Memory is Right. So there was some significant academic Achievements there. But I’ve met very smart People in my day. I was, for a significant period, a close friend of Professor Chomsky and his wife, a Family-friend, so I know the crème de la crème. Even though Dershowitz had some significant Achievements, it’s still, as you can imagine, a chasm separating him from Professor Chomsky. It’s more than a chasm, it’s several chasms. So when I met him, it was very anticlimactic.
I remember, in 1979, my late mother, she was a witness for a trial of Concentration Camp guards, from Majdanek Concentration Camp, where she was imprisoned. The guards were sitting at the front of the courtroom. They were in the defense side of the courtroom, at the front table. This was the first time my mother had seen the guards obviously, since the War. 1945, 75. About 35 years. I’ll never forget my mother’s reaction. She looked at them, because they had to stand up at some point. She looked at them, and then she turned to me, and she said, Oh my god, they’re washerwomen, for she had this Memory of them, they wore the crisp uniform, they were lean, they were thin. And you weren’t allowed to look at them, you were not allowed to make Eyecontact with them. She had this Memory of them as being ubermenschen. The Jews were der Untermenschen. Then, the guards now, they’d gotten very large. Fat in my day, but large in this day. The worst guard was one named Brigida. She was very large, and she had a pleated skirt and a very plain drab blouse. My mother said, Oh my god, they’re washerwomen. My mother was a snob. It was the same thing with Hannah Arendt, Oh my god, he’s a door-to-door salesman. That was my reaction when I saw Dershowitz. I just couldn’t even get angry. There was nothing there.
We had a Conversation, or it was more of a Monologue by me. I told him what I thought. Didn’t raise my voice, didn’t even get passionate, just very objective, matter-of-fact about it. I was surprised that he possessed more self-awareness than I expected. He didn’t really quarrel with the things I said.
Sanders is formally supportive of Israel. It’s clearly not a big item on his agenda, and he would prefer to avoid it if he can. He comes from a pretty progressive Family. His brother, I guess his brother’s name is Larry, he’s even a supporter of BDS , so my guess is, Sanders knows the truth, and for political reasons, he can’t say. I don’t have a problem with that. I have a problem when you say more than you have to. If you’re going to say some bromides and clichés every once in a while, so you can spare yourself the Wrath of the lunatic Israel lobby, in my book, it’s okay. I’m pretty certain that Sanders knows, so to speak, the real deal. When you get to the mainstream, the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, Obama, they’ve been a complete nightmare, and they’re responsible for all the Crimes that are committed. They have full primary Responsibility.
If you take the case, for example, of Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9, Israel made promiscuous use of the white phosphorous. Every white phosphorous shell that Human Rights Watch found in Gaza, they put out a report called Rain of Fire. Every white phosphorous shell was made in the United States. That was Cast Lead in 2008-9. You take the case of Operation Protective Edge, in July-August 2014, in the midst of this Horror, really, Protective Edge was quantitatively and perhaps you might even say, qualitatively, already worse than Cast Lead. Just to take one example, Cast Lead in 2008-9, 6,300 Palestinian homes were demolished, but in Protective Edge, it was 1,900. Almost three times as many Homes were destroyed. And every day, Obama, he or one of his spokespeople, said in the midst of this Carnage, in which 1,900 Homes were destroyed, 2,200 Palestinians were killed, of whom, 1,600 were Civilians, 550 were children, every single day, Obama came out and said the same thing: Israel has the Right to protect itself, Israel has the Right to protect itself by committing Death and Destruction among the People of Gaza. The Israelis side was just a joke. There were 7 civilians killed in Israel. One was a guest worker, so 6 civilians were killed, one of whom was a child. In the case of Gaza, it was 550. It was 550 to 1, and all Obama had to say was, Israel has the Right to Protect itself. He’s a wretch, he’s a monster, in my opinion. A smiling monster, but monster, nonetheless. [Accurate.] Totally without any content. Just a narcissist.
Every day now, when you open up the Paper, there’s another story. Today, if you open up the morning Paper, Obama says we’re going to keep juveniles out of Solitary Confinement. That’s great, Mr. Obama, but why did everything come in the last year? He has only one thing, all he cares about is his legacy and his memoir. His memoir is going to be filled with, He raised the minimum wage, and he did this, and he did that. He did all of it in the last year. In the case of Israel Palestine, he’s done nothing at all, except caused Death and Destruction of the People of Gaza.
The International Court of Justice was asked by the United Nations General Assembly to render what’s called advisory opinion. Advisory opinion basically means the International Court of Justice is an Arm of the United Nations, and the political bodies within the UN, for example, the General Assembly or the Security Council, they can refer to the International Court of Justice and ask them, Give us your legal opinion on this particular question, and it serves as an advisory role to direct the political bodies if they’re going to make a decision for them to know what is the legal status of this particular question. The International Court of Justice was asked by the General Assembly to render a legal opinion on the legality, to render an advisory opinion on the legality of the Wall that Israel was building in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the West Bank. Now, for the International Court of Justice to render an opinion on that question, they had to answer several preliminary questions. For example, To whom does the West Bank belong? If the West Bank belonged to Israel, and obviously you’re allowed to build a Wall within Territory that’s yours. So they had to decide, Where is the Border of Israel? Where does Israel end and Palestine begin? The International Court of Justice ruled that Israel ends at the 1967 Border and Palestine or the unit of Palestinian self-determination, it begins right past what’s called the Green Line, the 67 Border. Then, the Wall took circuitous route incorporating the major Settlement blocks, so the Court had to rule whether the Settlements were legal. If they were illegal, then you have to build a Wall to protect your Settlements, so the Court has to render a judgment on the legality of the Settlements, and it ruled that the Settlements are all illegal under International Law.
Now, the Wall cuts right through Jerusalem. It puts the Palestinian parts of Jerusalem on this side of the Wall, and the Jewish parts of Jerusalem on this “Israeli side” of the Wall, so the Court had to rule to whom does Jerusalem belong, because if it belongs to Israel, you can build a Wall wherever you want in your Property. The Court ruled that East Jerusalem is Occupied Palestinian Territory. In order to answer the preliminary, excuse me, in order to answer the question of the legality of the Wall, it had to answer these preliminary questions, and these preliminary questions are actually, were called the final status issues: Borders; Settlements; and Jerusalem. The only one it didn’t answer because it wasn’t relevant was refugees.
What did you say?
At one point, wasn’t Water another one, I was going to say?
Yeah, Water was. You’re Right. You’re Right. Water was, but now, Water has been subsumed under Borders. Yes, you’re correct. It answered all of the critical questions apart from the question of refugees, and then there’s the interesting point of the vote. I’ve studied the International Court of Justice. I teach a lot of their, I taught a lot of their opinions, and the votes are usually pretty close. This one was 14 to 1.
The only dissenting vote was the United States, Thomas Buergenthal, and even Buergenthal said, There’s a lot in the opinion I agree with, and on the crucial question, Buergenthal made a point of saying, I agree with the majority. The Settlements are illegal under International Law. The Settlements are illegal, then it’s really end of story, because if it is, you can’t have the Settlements. It’s not going to keep the West Bank. It has nothing, no gain from them. You could say that the vote was 14 to 1 technically, but the fact though the vote was 15 to 0. You very almost never get in the ICJ a vote like that, 15 to 0. Actually, I can’t think of a single case.
Even like Nuclear Proliferation?
Nuclear Proliferation was right down the middle, because the judges are supposed to be neutral, but you know they’re really speaking for their [Nation States]. You had a French judge, a British judge, an American judge, a Russian judge, and a Chinese judge on the Court, and those are the 5 Nuclear Powers, so you can figure it out where are they going to vote on the legality of Nuclear Weapons.
There are People dug in on both sides. And you’re never going to change their mind. My late mother used to say during the Vietnam War, If you don’t know now that the United States is committing Crimes, in the middle of the War, then you’ll never know. It’s a waste of Time to try to convince those People. That’s not who you’re really trying to convince. If you’re having a debate. You’re not trying to convince your opponent, that would be very silly. You’re trying to convince the audience. There is a large amount, a large proportion of the audience which, for Good reasons. Time is finite, the Economies of Time. They may focus on one issue or another and this happens not to be the issue they focus on. They don’t know, and they’re the ones you’re trying to reach.
My Experience has been over a lifetime now, 35 years. My Experience is facts are a powerful Weapon. They are persuasive. That if I ever acquired a certain Notoriety and a certain Admiration, I could say based on my email, it’s always the same thing. Everyone writes me, almost the same thing. I can’t believe how cool you stay in front of all the attacks, I can’t believe how calm you are, I can’t believe your command of the material. Actually, the two things go hand in hand. When People get angry and excited and almost violent, it’s a result of frustration. You know what your opponent is saying is not true but you don’t know how to answer it. You know that something they’re saying that’s not true but how do you prove it wrong? You don’t have the facts at your command. I’m able to stay calm and cool, because I know that when my turn comes, I will be able to answer it, and I stay calm because I have the answers. So I don’t feel that frustration of knowing my opponent is lying but don’t know how to answer the lie. I can answer the lies. For me, the only challenge is People always say you look so angry when you’re on the programme. I’m not angry at all, I’m actually just thinking. I’m figuring out, how will I approach this? What will be my line of Attack? I’m processing it and preparing my answer. I’m never angry because I’m completely confident I can answer anything.
As I said, if you read those reports, as I said to you a moment ago, there is actually an answer to everything in those reports, if you know them carefully enough. If you’ve gone through them carefully enough, you can find an answer to every piece of Israeli Propaganda. That’s what keeps my cool. I could see that judging from the email correspondence and talking to People, it is persuasive. They feel like they’re. People are Happy that I can answer. He’s answering them, you know, and they feel like there’s a kind of relief and Pride that he knows the answer. The answer, as in a factual answer, is important to People, because they themselves can tell when somebody is just engaging in Rhetoric. I was watching. My brother sent me some segments from [MLK] during the Vietnam War, and I was very struck when he was asked to defend his position on Vietnam. He was known as a rhetorician. It was on a TV Show. It was a kind of Talk Show, we called it back then. He was very factual. He was very factual. He understood it’s a one-on-one. It was two famous Talk Show hosts in the 1960s. Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin. He understood it’s a one on one. I’m not going to get by here with «I have a dream». I’ve got to answer the questions factually, rationally and so forth. He was actually, I would say he was pretty good. He was giving numbers. He said something like, It takes $500,000 to kill each enemy in Vietnam and yet, in the United States, we spend only $53,000 per US Citizen. He understood you have to be armed with the facts if you want to persuade.
There is a place for soaring Rhetoric and there is a place for factual repartee. I’m not a rhetorician. I never speak at Outdoor Rallies, because I don’t have the temperament for that. I’m an indoor person, not an outdoor person. But when you’re in indoor person, you’ve got to have the facts. The audience will see through.