The “answer to falsehood is EMET, truth,” stated legal legend Alan Dershowitz at the Endowment for Middle East Truth’s (EMET) tenth annual Rays of Light in the Darkness gala dinner on June 8 in Washington, DC’s Grand Hyatt Hotel. His play upon EMET’s Hebrew meaning indicated the evening’s refreshing truth-telling about an often falsely maligned Israel from honored speakers who addressed an appreciative audience of about 350.
Conservative writer Cal Thomas, a “member of the gentile wing of the international Zionist conspiracy,” moderated the evening as Dershowitz stated that “many universities in the world today have become centers of falsehood.” Contrary to his college years in the era of Senator McCarthy, “today McCarthyism comes from the hard left” on Israel and other matters. EMET President Sarah Stern‘s introductory remarks noted the results of such a climate in which Jewish college students across America encountered “Jews out of Palestine” signs, swastikas, and anti-Semitic rhetoric. She drew an ironic parallel to the “Jews out of Europe…Back to Palestine” signs her father confronted while studying in pre-World War II Krakow, Poland.
Dershowitz focused on largely unsuccessful efforts to promote Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel among American universities, campaigns that nonetheless helped “mis-educate a generation of future leaders.” BDS leaders admitted to wanting “to destroy Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people” contrary to rhetoric of pressuring Israel to conclude a peace settlement with Palestinians. Simultaneously the “very anti-peace” BDS movement “sends an erroneous message to the Palestinian street and the Palestinian leaders that says you don’t have to compromise…we will get you your state through extortion.”
Dershowitz criticized the BDS movement’s hypocrisy in singling out democratic Israel while ignoring numerous other countries with brutal dictatorships. “You can’t only talk about the nation state of the Jewish people…To refuse to apply a single standard is to refuse to apply human rights,” he noted. He recalled a 2015 Oxford Union debate in which no one in his audience could name a country facing threats like Israel with a better human rights record. Calling BDS a “total fraud,” Representative Ron DeSantis‘ address likewise noted leftists who on the same day protested his congressional BDS hearing and supported the Iran nuclear agreement at another hearing.
Dershowitz examined the fraudulency of BDS demands like the Palestinian “Right of Return,” the “phoniest right in the history of human rights” concerning descendants of Palestinian refugees from Israel’s 1948 independence war. This defense against an Arab genocidal attempt to destroy Israel caused the deaths of one percent of a Jewish population of 600,000, including Holocaust survivors. Israel’s creation also unleashed a wave of Jewish refugees fleeing Middle Eastern and North African Muslim countries comparable in number to an estimated 700,000 Palestinian refugees in 1948, forming an effective “exchange of populations.” Meanwhile millions of refugees and their descendants from numerous other conflicts such as India’s 1947 partition have no such right of return.
Dershowitz exposed hatred for Israel masked as a progressive concern for human rights. As he has previously done, he condemned the “pinkwashing” accusation that Israel promotes its pro-LGBT policies in order to deflect attention from Palestinian suffering. This suggests that Israel acts “purposely and deliberately in order to whitewash what they are doing to the Palestinians. That is the oldest form of antisemitism, which is anything the Jew does must be for the wrong reason.”
Israel-haters espoused illogical “intersectionality” between condemning Israel and all other progressive causes, Dershowitz noted; thus “if you want to be for the environment you have to be anti-Israel.” Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, an anti-Israel Jew similar to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, supports BDS against environment-friendly Israel, whose Arab neighbors “couldn’t care less about the environment.” Similarly some who boycott North Carolina for its transgender policies also oppose New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s anti-BDS executive order, showing that the “only consistency that is required of you is always be anti-Israel.”
Countering such anti-Israel bias, Muslim reformer Raheel Raza noted that, despite the Tel Aviv terrorist attack that day, the “world has the gall to ask Israel why do they build a wall…Walls are built to keep the animals out.” Palestinians violently manifest a “consistent, unapologetic rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state,” DeSantis stated. Meanwhile the Islamic State, America’s current preoccupation, “may be fifth on the list of an Israeli prime minister” after threats such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and an Iran strengthened by a dangerous nuclear agreement.
Truth is a necessary element in countering such threats, DeSantis noted. “You are never going to defeat the enemies of our country and Israel if you cannot accurately identify them. These are not people who are engaged in man-caused disasters or workplace violence or even violent extremism. This is a global jihad.” Yet Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney warned that the “speaking of the truth is becoming much more difficult by the day” given the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) longstanding campaign to suppress criticism of Islam. Recent decisions by social media giants like Facebook and Twitter to apply European Union hate speech norms made him comment that “we must exercise our freedoms or we will truly lose them.”
John Calvin, a Palestinian whose adopted name indicates his conversion to Christianity, brought the evening to a fitting end. Now seeking asylum in the United States, he described how his conversion and homosexuality alienated his family, known for several Hamas leaders, and led to death threats from his father and others as well as imprisonment. He experienced yet another life-altering event in an Israeli jail following a 2006 attempt to flee his home and illegally enter Israel when his Israeli jailers cared for him following rapes by his fellow Palestinian prisoners. This kindness led him to learn that Israel in its region is the “only civilized nation in the midst of an uncivilized world” of dictatorships and terrorism; “we need to insure that its culture prevails in the Middle East.”