Burning Books at Harvard Law

Click on Harvard Law’s homepage and you find Dershowitz’s lambaste of Carter’s recent book entitled “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” This is an op/ed piece by Dershowitz printed in Conrad Black’s National Post. If, as Lawrence Velvel (Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law School) has articulated very convincingly, what goes on in the hallowed halls of Harvard Law is inextricably linked to what goes on in the halls of power in Washington DC, because of the revolving door between the two, we are in a sorry state indeed.

This is particularly true if Dershowitz is representative the scholars at Harvard Law, which he must be as his editorial is on page one of Harvard Law’s website. In my opinion, his superficial review of Carter’s book is today’s equivalent of a verbal book burning–as any reader of the review would be persuaded to ignore Carter’s book. This, in effect, takes the book out of circulation.

The op/ed proceeds as follows: Carter’s book is initially described as an “anti-Israeli screed”; Dershowitz complains “a mere listing of all of Mr. Carter’s mistakes and omissions would fill a volume the size of his book (Dershowitz lists four, out of context and with his own very-subjective interpretation of the word “mistake”); Dershowitz continues with subjective comments such as “Mr. Carter just doesn’t like Israel or Israelis”; and finally, the coup de grace, “his (Carter’s) authorship of this ahistorical, one-sided brief against Israel forever disqualifies him from playing any positive role in fairly resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” Thank you Professor Dershowitz for this anti-Carter screed!

Anyone who has actually read the book would know that most of it is centered on former President Carter’s own personal conversations and negotiations with all of the leaders of the Middle East from the 1970s to the present. The book is, in part, autobiographical. How can you label this autobiographical account of a former president “ahistorical”?

The major contribution of this book is not the pre WWI history of the region, but Carter’s own personal contribution to, and opinions of, the current history. Carter is a former President of the United States–he made this history. Carter’s book is important to read, if for no other reason than to get these first-hand accounts of his conversations with world leaders at critical moments in the recent history of the Middle East.

The final statement of Dershowitz, noted above, is especially galling when applied to former President Carter. Our former president is a man who has dedicated himself to seeking peace in the Middle East, he was the mediator of the historic Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel, and, most recently, was the monitor of fair Palestinian elections via his Carter Center and his own physical presence on the ground in the occupied territories. Ignoring these realities, Harvard Law has put it’s “seal of approval” on Dershowitz’s vitriolic review of an important work of a former President of the United States, effectively contributing to censoring this information. This is an accomplishment that should make our preeminent institution of higher education proud, or perhaps make the American public seriously question Harvard’s preeminence.

Troublesome as well, is the fact that Dershowitz’s review appears to be based on his reading precious little of the book. Obviously, he read the book title–as the entire first paragraph of his op/ed is a rant on the title alone. He is also familiar with a few selected quotes (perhaps highlighted for him by a student assistant) that are not representative of the tone of the book at all. Again, anyone who has actually read the book would know that it is not an anti-Israeli screed, quite the contrary. Carter has bent over backward to be fair in his presentation of Israel and Israeli citizens. Carter does, however, describe personal conversations and personal experiences on the ground that may put Israel in a negative light, but these are historic facts and if Dershowitz finds them offensive he might look to Israeli leaders, not Carter, to target his venom.

What I find especially frightening about the promotion of Dershowitz’s op/ed on Harvard Law’s homepage is that it says volumes about the current state of public discourse, free communication and public access to factual information in our country. Recently, in a radio interview, Carter stated that criticism of his book, and the recent resignation of Kenneth Stein from the Carter Center, has gotten more publicity from the mainstream press than has his book and its contents. If a former president, who has dedicated much of his life to seeking a fair solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, cannot get his opinions heard over the jeering of the likes of Dershowitz, who has dedicated much of his life (for big bucks) to defending murderers and currently, a child-molester in Palm Beach Florida, public discourse in the US is being seriously eroded. Even worse, this disinformation campaign is being abetted and empowered by Harvard Law, as evidently, Harvard Law prefers the bombast of Dershowitz to the serious historical facts of a former President of the United States.

MARY McGRANE is an associate professor in the field of biomedical sciences at the University of Connecticut.





More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring