To the Editor:
Something is terribly wrong in the Jewish community when a prominent man, who has spent a lifetime shaping legal arguments of the highest caliber, resorts to hateful name-calling against a fellow Jew and a pillar of the international legal community.
That is what Alan Dershowitz did.
In an interview with Israel Army Radio, Dershowitz agreed that Judge Richard Goldstone was a "moser," a term reserved in traditional Jewish law for a Jewish traitor who should be killed. Dershowitz also called Goldstone "an evil, evil man" and "an absolute traitor."
Israel is going through a dark period, marked by McCarthyistic efforts to stifle debate, growing incitement to violence and rising Jew-on-Jew violence. Many have compared this tension to the time that preceded the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
During this time, it is doubly important for leading figures on all sides to engage in civil and rational discussion of the issues at hand. Character assassination is not an appropriate tactic.
Sadly, even Dershowitz’s claim that he did not intend to use the term moser does not excuse the resort to low-ball tactics. Dershowitz now claims that he was not familiar with the word moser and instead he thought he was agreeing with the characterization of Goldstone as a "monster."
Similarly, his retraction of the word "traitor" left something to be desired:
"I wrote to the broadcaster, retracting my word ‘traitor,’ " Dershowitz told the Forward. "But if you’re asking me deep in my heart and soul do I believe that the word fairly characterizes him, in light of the way he’s used his Jewishness, both as a shield and a sword? You know, if the shoe fits."
Dershowitz could have — and should have — aired substantive disagreements about the report that Judge Goldstone authored following the Gaza War. Instead he chose to demean, to insult and to incite. And that is a regrettable state of affairs.
President and CEO
Americans for Peace Now