Prof. Alan Dershowitz against the United Nations: Speaking in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, he said, “If I had to vote on it, I would have to bite the bullet and vote to abolish the United Nations, as I think it has done more harm than good.”
Dershowitz and former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold conducted a “dialogue” at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), where Gold serves as President. The occasion was the Annual Memorial Lecture in honor of founding JCPA president Prof. Daniel J. Elazar. Close to 250 people were in attendance.
The topic of discussion revolved generally around the recent U.S. elections and the election of Donald Trump as they relate to Israel, but it predictably veered onto other topics as well. Dershowitz said that in no way could Trump’s election be viewed as a “mandate” for his policies, as the United States “is basically split down the middle. Trump won the electoral vote, while Clinton won the popular vote. It could have gone either way! And this is why we cannot allow Israel to become a partisan issue – because we could have lost!”
He further said that he has hopes that Trump will succeed, “but my expectations for this are lower.” Dershowitz noted that Trump’s appointments so far do not indicate a consistent policy towards Israel. He emphasized that in general, “xenophobia is not good for Israel. Jews should be wary of being seduced by those who are pro-Israel if they are in fact racist, xenophobic, etc. We fell prey to Communists in the 30’s and in general, Jews thrive in the political center.”
In response to a challenge by Gold regarding his use of the term “populism” concerning Trump, Dershowitz said, “Trump is not a real populist, because he’s not an ideologue.”
Gold sought to impart a positive impression regarding Trump’s presidency vis-à-vis Israel: “I believe his team has excellent relations with Netanyahu’s team, and there is no danger of any hostility towards Israel.” He acknowledged that the situation is dangerous, “as the world order is basically collapsing, and the Trump Administration and the new Secretary of State will have to restore it.”
Dershowitz heartily agreed: “I supported Obama twice, but I blame him for the breakdown of the world order. I believe he will go down in history as one of America’s greatest presidents domestically, but one of the worst in terms of foreign policy. I warned him personally that he could go down in history as a Chamberlain. He has managed to alienate every single country in the Middle East, except for one: Iran…”
Both Gold and Dershowitz, in fact, lamented the destabilization and the unpredictable nature of various countries, specifically citing examples from the Arab world. This is why some in the audience expressed surprise at Dershowitz’s comment that “now is the best time for Israel to come to an arrangement with the Palestinians – without sacrificing an iota of its security – in order to ensure our continued good relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates.”
Regarding the French initiative in favor of a two-state solution, Prof. Dershowitz said, “This would be a disaster. It would show the Arabs that they can achieve their goals via the UN, BDS, the International Criminal Court – in any way other than direct negotiations.”
“I am in favor of moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem,” says Prof. Dershowitz,
“but it should be done in three stages.” He said the Administration should first right a historic anomaly by declaring its recognition of western Jerusalem as part of Israel, and then should declare that it wants and plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem “in consultation with our allies.” Only later should the embassy actually be relocated, he said.
Dershowitz stated that he had spoken with three Israeli prime ministers that very day, including Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, and even incarcerated Ehud Olmert.
According to former Ambassador Gold, “Binyamin Netanyahu has made Herculean efforts towards peace,” as opposed to Mahmoud Abbas, who he said “continues to stall. Our challenge at this time is to continue to forge good relations with the Arab countries while the Palestinians continue to be stuck in themselves.”