On February 26, 2019, the Citizens Commission on National Security (CCNS) held its first major event, a symposium titled “The U.S.-Israeli Alliance and Its National Security Implications,” featuring Alan Dershowitz and an all-star line-up of experts from the worlds of military, law, politics, intelligence, Congress, diplomacy and think tanks. It was held in a TV studio in downtown Washington DC, and aired live in its entirety on JBS-TV, the Jewish Broadcasting Service. The symposium consisted of three panels, and an interview with Dershowitz.
Today we continue with the release of Part 3, which was comments by Dershowitz on the theme of the symposium. Dershowitz was interviewed by Rabbi Mark Golub, the founder and CEO of JBS. They covered a wide variety of topics.
Dershowitz believes that the state of the alliance between the two countries is strong, and that America will always be pro-Israel, and Israel will always be pro-America. He said Israel is America’s only reliable ally in the region. He questions whether Turkey will remain an ally, with its current Islamist leader, Erdogan. Regarding the strategic relationship, Dershowitz pointed to the fact that the U.S. and Israel had jointly developed the Iron Dome missile defense system, and other helpful technology.
Dershowitz gave thumbnail summaries of relations between the two countries during nearly every American presidency since Israel’s creation in 1948, and how that relationship at times differed from what was coming out of the State Department.
He pointed out that the existential threat to Israel is Iran, which brings Israel and the U.S. even that much closer. He said that it strengthens the US-Israeli relationship to have the common enemy of Iran. Plus, the Saudis and the Emirates have been pushed closer to Israel, also because of Iran. Dershowitz went to Qatar to talk to the Emir to see if “I could push them into a more positive relationship with Israel.”
Dershowitz expressed some concern over the three new Democratic women in Congress, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but concluded that they are marginal and extreme. He expressed a much greater concern over BDS, which stands for Boycott Divest and Sanction. Dershowitz dismissed the BDS movement as a threat to the U.S.-Israeli alliance, but said, “What I fear much more is what’s going on at university campuses.” He said the goal of BDS is “to propagandize and mis-educate a generation of future leaders into believing that Israel is the worst human rights offender on the face of the earth, and there are too many students who today actually believe that canard and believe that Israel is guilty of genocide and apartheid and all those terrible words, and they only protest Israel on college campuses.”
Rabbi Golub pointed to the recent legislation that passed in the U.S. Senate to protect states from lawsuits if they passed anti-BDS legislation. A number of states have passed legislation that would bar state money or contracts from being given to companies who engage in BDS against Israel. This led to Dershowitz strongly criticizing the ACLU for its position opposing the federal legislation. “The villain of that law, the absolute villain, is an organization I used to be on the national board of, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has now turned against Israel. “The only reason the ACLU opposed that statute is because it was directed against discrimination against Israel.” He said the ACLU was wrong in regards to the Constitution and they were against it because they are anti-Israel. He said “They get their money from the hard left. The ACLU increased their budget from $30 million to $130 million based on becoming a radical, hard-left, anti, in many instances, civil liberties organization.” He added that “It has become a villainous organization when it comes to Israel. And that no one should donate to it until there is a change of leadership.” He said, “The ACLU ought to be ashamed of itself.”
Dershowitz criticized politicians who have associated with Louis Farrakhan. That included Keith Ellison, the former deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Barack Obama.
Dershowitz praised President Trump for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but withheld judgment on the upcoming peace plan coming from the Trump administration. This session ended with Aronoff and Golub talking about what they each viewed as the take-aways from Dershowitz’s comments.