Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dershowitz: A liar -- and an illiterate one at that

Not that the world needs me to expose Alan Dershowitz as a liar, but as a matter of fact I have. (More than once.) Now he's again at it on his Jerusalem Post blog, publishing one mendacious hatchet job after another targeting men and women of the Hebrew persuasion who still have a conscience, or, in Zio-parlance, self-hating Jews. Foremost among them, needless to say, is Richard Goldstone, whose report on the Israeli carnage in Gaza pointed to war crimes, with Israel's government failing to appoint an independent commission to investigate the charges.

In a recent piece, claims Dershowitz:

"He cannot possibly believe that Israel used the thousands of rockets that Hamas directed against its children as an excuse, or a cover, for its real goal, namely to kill as many Palestinian civilians as possible."
Of course, it would be outrageous if Goldstone believed that. But, once again, it's a lie. In the report, Goldstone claims that

what occurred in just over three  weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate  attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish  its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an  ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.
Punishing, humiliating and terrorizing are not the same as killing. Dershowitz knows it, but prefers to transform an accusation that is made by Goldstone, but which is not outrageous, into another accusation that is outrageous, but not made by Goldstone. Sorry, Alan, we've caught you with your pants down again.

See also Jerry Haber's minutious destruction of Dershowitz's "response" to Goldstone, on which his blog article is based.

As an aside, I was amused to see that, according to Dershowitz,

Goldstone (...) refused to credit eyewitness reports published by refutable newspapers, and even admissions by Hamas leaders.

Well -- if the newspapers were "refutable," Goldstone was right not to credit their reports, wasn't he? A few hours after the article was published on Dershowitz's blog, a reader spotted the mistake and commented,

24  |   Arnold - Canada, Thursday Feb 04, 2010
Editing error: paragraph 5, line 4: should be "reputable" rather than "refutable".

The misspelling was corrected (but I preserved the cached version with the mistake here).

It's not the first time that Dershowitz struggles with the English language. A few months back he debated arch-Zionist hawk Melanie Philips over whether Obama adequately passes the loyalty (to Israel) test. Philips argued Obama is bent on Israel's destruction. Dershowitz's (correct, in this case) position was that Obama would eventually "see the light" (i.e. understand the power of the Jewish lobby) and back down from pressuring Israel. In that debate, the "civil rights champion" argued:

This is simply not the Barak Obama that I know and voted for. No one who fits this characterture would have gone to Sderot (...) No one who fits that characterture would have appointed Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, Dennis Ross (...) as an advisor on Iran and Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff.

Making charactertures of American presidents is indeed horrible. But I'm a linguist, and in my professionally distorted view, grotesquely misspeling the word caricature is even more horrible.

Dershowitz's trouble getting fairly common words straight may have cost him the book censorship he sought circa 2005. When the University of California Press was about to publish Norman Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah, a neat exposé of Dershowitz's bogus scholarship, Alan tried to stop the book from coming out by writing to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the crucial paragraph, the expert appeals attorney warned:

I know that you will be interested in trying to prevent an impending scandal involving a decision by the University of California Press to publish a viciously anti-Semitic book by an author whose main audience consists of neo-Nazis in Germany and Austria. The book to which this is a sequel was characterized by two imminent historians as a modern-day version of the notorious czarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Of course, Gov. Schwarzenegger refused to censor the book. Among other factors, he must have taken into account that Finkelstein was slammed by imminent (i.e., soon-to-be, but not yet so) historians. If they had been eminent historians, who knows, maybe the book would have never seen the light of day.

Some people wonder how it is that Harvard continues to proudly display a professor who openly endorses crimes against humanity, such as torture or collective punishment. I, for my part, would be pleased to see the university fire Dershowitz on far simpler grounds -- his illiteracy.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hasbara @ York caught lying. Be sure to post this

http://www.excal.on.ca/cms2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7979

Gert said...

When Walt and Mearsheimer published their article on The Israel Lobby, a Zionist friend of mine asked me to read Jerkowitz' 'refutation' of said article. I didn't get much beyond page two, so badly written I thought it was. In the very first paragraph he used the term 'cabal' (d'yageddit?), when W & M never used such a term throughout their piece. But Jerkowitz knew how to set the tone, just as he does with Goldstone...

Anonymous said...

Well, you're team can't do much better!

My Kingdom for a Nazi With Spelling Skills

15 Feb 2010 07:44 am
From the C-Span mailbag:
I read that you want to stop cspan from brodcasting the truth about jews in america. well, no luck jew. your out of luck. the people are coming and rising and thell overthrow the jewish dominaton of the media. so count your days and if i was you id get a boat to isreal quick.

http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2010/02/my_kingdom_for_a_nazi_with_spe.php

Gert said...

"[...] you're team [...]", Anonymous?

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Hahaha... Da problem seems to be jeneralyzed.

Gert said...

I is in compleat agreenemt with you, Ibriham...

Ernie Halfdram said...

Dershowitz is always 'at it again' and while one tries to resist the temptation to go for an easy mark like him, somebody's got to do it. http://bureauofcounterpropaganda.blogspot.com/2007/06/dershowitz-farts.html

In my view, Ibrahim, you comprehensively nailed the bastard in the first four paragraphs of your post, but with all due respect, 'as an aside', back in the day, linguists by and large would not stoop to excoriating people for their misspellings. It's akin to ridiculing people for their names, or funny accents, or appearance. We used to call those who obsessed over 'correctness' and prescriptive grammar as 'Miss Fidditch'. But you couldn't really be Miss Fidditch, because she would never be caught splitting an infinitive, e.g. 'to proudly display', much less arbitrarily applying the non-present tense marking characteristic of English weak verbs, 'may have costed him the book censorship'.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Utterly touché, Ernie. By the way, did you know that those mistakes are what I was fired from Harvard over? (Yes, that's a preposition at the end of a sentence!)

I've corrected "costed" because I'm perfectly aware of the irregularity and it's not a mistake I would normally make. On the other hand, I've left the split infinitive in place since it accurately reflects my insufficient knowledge of the finer points of English grammar. It simply doesn't sound wrong to me.

When I write facetiously I tend to convey some wrong ideas, for instance that us (OK, we!) linguists mainly concern ourselves with spelling. We do other things. For instance, right at this moment I'm constructing a theory that would explain all uses of atrás and detrás, accurately predicting the distribution of both words in standard Spanish speech, which hasn't been done yet. (You know -- the world might stop turning if I don't come up with the explanation.)

(I also do spelling correction, but in my main breadwinning job as an editor, for which my training as a linguist helps, but is not essential, required or even very important.)

All that being said, I tend to think that the words "imminent" and "eminent" appear frequently enough in litigation that an attorney should be able to tell them from each other. He probably has his affidavits written for him by some faithful student.

Ernie Halfdram said...

Well, I didn't think we were fencing, Ibrahim, at least not on this occasion. I just reckon we can combat hasbara best if we stick to the issues and leave the ad hominems, the foot shooting, the sloppy reasoning, and the outright fabrications to the hasbaristas. They are so good at it, after all.

I hasten to add that as far as I'm concerned, sentence final prepositions and split infinitives are not errors. Nor do I have any problem with a non native speaker making a mistake like costed, or indeed, with anyone making any trivial grammatical or typographical error. As a matter of fact, I agree that Dershowitz ought to be embarrassed by the kind of egregious errors you point out, but I think little could be clearer than that embarrassment is not in Dershowitz's emotional repertoire.

I don't have a handle on all the tools that are available these days for corpus analysis, but I can sort of imagine the kinds of things you can do now in minutes that would have required hundreds of hours of card sorting in the old days. And phonology must be a whole new ball game, too, when anyone with a laptop and a microphone can do the kind of acoustic analysis we used to need huge machines to do.

Obviously, I don't do linguistics in my current incarnation, but I do have a passing interest in some phenomena I've noticed in Turkish - like suffixing tense and person/number marking to case marked forms of nouns, e.g. ev 'house' - evde 'at home' - evdeyim 'I'm at home' - evdeydim 'I was at home'. Insane!

No, I had no idea Harvard gave you the sack, or why, or indeed that you were ever there in the first place. Do you know Susumu Kuno? I did a course on Empathy with him at the LSA institute in 1976. Anyway,
while I'm interested in hearing about your personal life, perhaps you'd prefer to discuss it more privately. I think you know how to contact me.

Anonymous said...

Whyntcha jes get on your knees and suck the nazi knob Ernie!

andrew r said...

I get why anon is here. To lure us into a false sense of complacency by acting ridiculously stupid. Then he brings out his smart friends who will smear us from wall to wall. Come on anon, it's been two years now. Your scheme must be coming to fruition.

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andrew r said...

See? It's begun. We don't stand a chance.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Well, I didn't think we were fencing, Ibrahim

Yes, we are fencing! To paraphrase a nonexistent British official: "I don't get corrected by people; I correct them"!

Just kidding.

Alex said...

I've also noticed mistakes in his spelling (and he is supposed to be a big-time professional and all that). This is from a correspondence through email with me, referring to one of Finkelstein's books:

Not all. They have deliberately ommited some. I stand by what I wrote. It is a scandel that a university press would publish finkelsteins garbage. I have no problem with a racist press publishing it.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

-----Original Message-----
From: "Alex Cacioppo"

Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2007 12:55:10
To:dersh@law.harvard.edu
Subject: re "the smoking guns"


Professor Dershowitz,

Are you aware of the pdf copies of letters you sent out relating to the publication of that Finkelstein book?

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