Dershowitz packs Central

October 4, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Human rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz addressed a full house at Sydney’s Central Synagogue last night.

Alan Dershowitz and Peter Hartcher photo: Giselle Haber

In a dialogue with The Sydney Morning Herald’s chief reporter Peter Hartcher, Dershowitz spoke to the 2000 capacity audience on issues including the death penalty, the cost of justice, J-Street and the Goldstone Report, his support for Israel, his favourite US politicians, Archbishop Tutu, his childhood, Iran. the mosque at Ground Zero and a job offer from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The enthralled audience sat glued to their seats as Hartcher took them on a journey spanning Dershowitz’s amazing career.

The evening began with a movie made for the current JewishCare Capital Appeal. Dershowitz was visibly moved after viewing the film and told the audience that he and his wife Carolyn would be making a personal donation to the campaign.

Dershowitz began by addressing the issue of the death penalty telling the audience he takes on 3-4 cases each year. He said that he had two rates which he charged his clients – “zero and outrageous”. The lawyer highlighted one particular case in which a 16-yr-old Thai boy had been found guilty of murdering ten monks and nuns. The lawyer’s team had spent 17 years on a pro bono basis culminating in a successful appeal which itself is currently being contested.

He condemned the Goldstone Report and J-Street’s support for it before telling the audience that his personal political hero was the late Ted Kennedy naming as his current favourite U.S. politicians Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama.

He attacked South Africa’s Bishop Tutu who has frequerntly accused Israel of being an apartheid state. Dershowitz said that he had attended a concert in Israel at which Daniel Barenboim performed with an orchestra comprised of Israelis and Palestinians and that they had played a Mozart concerto in which the second movement had been played by a Palestinian pianist. “Where’s the apartheid there?”, he questioned.

It was back to Brooklyn for memories of the human rights lawyers’s early life. He said that his school principal had accused him of being a student who “talked a lot but didn’t use his brains”.

Dershowitz went on to praise Palestinan president Mahmoud Abbas saying he is a decent man who wants peace….and that the U.S. should continue to press both sides in a continuing attempt to secure it.

Not in favour of settlements, Dershowitz did admit to having been on friendly terms with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since 1973, saying that the settlement solution should be an Israeli decision.

Iran was his next in his sights. Dershowitz said that the Israeli red line…a line which if crossed by Iran would invoke an attack…is six months ahead of America’s and he advocated a three day war by the U.S. to knock out Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in order to maintain peace in a region threatened by Iran’s nuclear capability.

Peter Hartcher, Yair Miller, Alan and Carolyn Dershowitz Photo: Giselle Haber

Dershowitz spoke about his new book “The Trials of Zion” in which Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and the U.S. have agreed on peace…until a bomb goes off in an attempt to scuttle the peace effort.

He said that one of his proudest moments was at a conference in Geneva when Iranian president Ahmadinejad walked into a bar and Dershowitz’s wife booed him followed by a meeting the two attended from which Dershowitz was escorted out of the room.

After telling the audience that he believed the State should not to tell religious groups what they can and cannot do inasmuch as offering support for the mosque at Ground Zero close to which are gay and strip clubs, Dershowitz closed the meeting off by his ‘no’ to Netanyahu when offered the job of Israel’s spokesman at the U.N. claiming it would not be good for U.S. Jewry as it could raise questions about their allegiance.

The event was co-organised by the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, JewishCare and The Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Yair Miller, the president of the NSWJBD told J-Wire: “We were very privileged to have had someone of the calibre of Alan Dershowitz address us and it was good to learn that our activities are consistent with his approach and to hear his endorsement of the way the community is run in Sydney.”

JewishCare president Eva Fischl concurred. She said: “I am sure I can speak on behalf of the entire Sydney jewish community in saying that it was an honor to have the world’s foremost Jewish human right activist not just address the function but also to stamp his mark of approval on the activities of JewishCare and what it stands for

Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the NSWJBD urged the audience to support the JewishCare Capital Appeal.

Victor Grynberg contributed to this report – Home Page pic: Victor Grynberg


3 Responses to “Dershowitz packs Central”
  1. Kevin Charles Herbert says:

    Dershowitz should not have been allowed to enter Australia, due to his continued support for a terrorist regime.

    Next time he plans to come there will be a challenge.

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