Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Blog

Many of us were disappointed a few months ago when we learned that President Obama took the time to meet with Harvard professor, Israeli-policy defender, and information distorter Alan Dershowitz. But while one could make the case that such a meeting could be useful for an American politician navigating the sensitivities surrounding U.S.-Israel relations in domestic U.S. politics, it would be utterly unfathomable for a Palestinian leader to take the time to afford Dershowitz any credibility by agreeing to meet with him. Yet, today brought the news that President Abbas met with Dershowitz, and other Jewish community leaders, to discuss his pending speech before the UNGA and the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

So, what good could have come from that meeting? According to Ha’aretz, “Dershowitz secured Abbas’ confirmation in writing to a sequential resumption of talks that may come to be known as [I kid you not] the ‘Dershowitz Formula’.” So, what is this groundbreaking formula? As Dershowitz explains it, it is a way to get around all this Palestinian “game-playing” in the negotiations and force them to negotiate more seriously by offering a “conditional freeze” on settlements as long as the Palestinians negotiate in “good faith.” If this preposterous inversion of reality is causing you physical pain right now, you’re not alone. Furthermore, excluded from this freeze are areas “that are relatively certain to remain part of Israel, such as Ma'ale Adumim, Gilo and other areas close to the center of Jerusalem.” Apparently, the increasing Israeli control of occupied Jerusalem at the expense of Palestinian residents is something that the Palestinians are expected to put up with under this plan.

Dershowitz goes on to explain that there will be “compromises” expected of both sides:

These compromises will require the Israelis to give up claims to areas of the West Bank that were part of Biblical Israel but that are heavily populated by Palestinians. It will require the Palestinians to give up any claim to a massive "right of return" for the millions of descendents [sic] of those who once lived in what is now Israel.

Notice any difference there? Palestinians are expected to compromise on the “right” of return (which is indeed a legal right), while the Israelis are expected to “compromise” on areas in the West Bank that they have no legal or rightful claim to in the first place.

Most amusingly, Dershowitz told Ha’aretz that “he views himself as someone who can serve as ‘an honest broker’ between Israel and the Palestinians.” Not only is it absurd that someone as biased on this issue as Dershowitz could ever claim to be an “honest broker,” but the mere mention of the word “honest” in the same sentence with Dershowitz is already an assault on the whole concept of honesty.

We can have healthy disagreements with the Palestinian leadership’s handling of various phases of the “peace process” (and I certainly am a critic), but entertaining the idea of restarting negotiations under the “Dershowitz Formula” would be undeniably a mistake for both symbolic and substantive reasons. The Palestinian leadership would do well to confine its outreach to the American Jewish community to the large segments that can be a real partner in the effort to achieve viable Israeli-Palestinian peace. Alan Dershowitz does not belong to those circles.

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