Alan Dershowitz on Jimmy Carter’s Human Rights Award from Jewish Law School: “I Can’t Imagine A Worse Person to Honor for Conflict Resolution”


carterThe Cardozo School of Law, which is associated with Yeshiva University, has decided to honor former U.S. President Jimmy Carter with its annual “International Advocate for Peace” award on Wednesday. This has many alumni and other members of the Jewish community up in arms, not least of which is because of Carter’s penchant for labeling Israel an “apartheid state” and his chumminess with Yasser Arafat and the current Hamas leadership. (For more of Carter’s activities in the region see here.)

“I can’t imagine a worse person to honor for conflict resolution. Here’s a man who has engendered conflict wherever he goes. He has encouraged terrorism by Hamas and Hezbollah. He was partly responsible for Yasser Arafat turning down the Clinton-Barak peace offer,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told The Algemeiner in an interview. Dershowitz wrote about Carter in his book “The Case Against Israel’s Enemeies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace.”

“He is significantly responsible for the second Intifada. If he had told Yasser Arafat to accept that deal we might be celebrating Palestinian statehood today,” Dershowitz added. “He just prefers terrorists to Israelis.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus at the Jewish Press did some digging as to who, exactly, was responsible for deciding Carter should be this year’s honoree. “The law school administration has insisted – through a statement issued by a public relations firm – it was a choice made by the students. Sources have suggested the opposite is the case,” she writes.

It’s even up for debate as to whether or not the Dean of the Cardozo Law School Mathew Diller will be attending. Marcus reports that “some concerned individuals were told ‘on good assurance’ that neither Cardozo’s Dean Diller nor YU’s President Joel would be present at the award ceremony, and that they were completely uninvolved.”

But in a letter to some wealthy alumni Diller wrote that he hoped they would “plan to join me in welcoming the 39th President of the United States to the law school.”

Dershowitz doesn’t blame the school, however. “In my own opinion it was a dumb, dumb decision by a group of students who are either ignorant or ideologically associated with Jimmy Carter,” he said.

In any case, Israel or not, Dershowitz questions the wisdom of honoring an individual who, in general, doesn’t have the best track record where human rights are concerned.

“Carter during his presidency sat idly by while 2 million Cambodians were killed by Pol Pot. He has been bought and paid for by Saudi Extremists. His Carter Center stopped investigating human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia when he received payment from important and wealthy Saudi businessmen,” Dershowitz said. “He has used the word apartheid to describe Israel but he never used the word in reference to Saudi Arabia which practices gender apartheid, religious apartheid, sexual preference apartheid.”

If anything, Dershowitz argues, Carter has harmed efforts to make the world a more peaceful place. “Before Jimmy Carter came along human rights were neutral. You attacked the left, you attacked the right. You attacked who were the worst perpetrators. Not with Jimmy Carter. He never attacks the left. He never attacks the Arab or Muslim world. He has turned human rights essentially into human lefts and distorted the concept of human rights. Eleanore Roosevelt and real founders of the human rights movement are turning over in their graves.”

But Dershowitz thinks that Carter’s presence on campus this week should be used as a positive. Students should attend the ceremony “and in a dignified and respectful way show contempt for Jimmy Carter,” he said. “Students should know who they’re honoring. The response to bad speech is good speech. You don’t cancel the event you use it as an educational opportunity to teach people about the evil things that Jimmy Carter has done.”


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  1. I resent the orthodox world gving credance to anything said by the former Avi Dershowitz. He is not just some tinok shenishba: he is the child of a very frum family who was raised as such as is now a moomer l’hachis. No matter how “important” he is politically or academically, he has publicly behaved in a manner completely contrary to the Torah and as such, should be totally ignored. In his book, Chutzpah, he relates that he told his rebbi that he was an apikorus. His rebbi responded that he (Avi/Alan Dershowitz) was too much of an ohm aretz to be an apikorus. ‘Nuff said.

  2. I am a student in Cardozo. To clarify, neither YU nor Cardozo is giving this honor. It is a student run journal in the school. That being said we are planning protests and making a lot of noise to point out the bizarre idea of giving an award for conflict resolution to an anti semite and and a causer of conflict

  3. “layli”, your response is strictly ad hominem and does not respond to any of the points made by Prof. Dershowitz. If you believe that it is appropriate for Cardozo Law School to honor Jimmy Carter in this way, then defend your position. Otherwise your comment is a non sequitur. Although I personally disagree with Prof. Dershowitz often, I feel that he is precisely correct in his labeling of Carter as an enemy of the Jewish community and condemnation of the decision to award him this distinction.

    Dr. Howard Wachtel