(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prof. Alan Dershowitz visited former prime minister Ehud Olmert in Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle on Wednesday and reported that Olmert “is looking good and feeling strong.” Dershowitz also quipped that he was more used to prisons than Olmert, albeit on the other side of the bars.
In June of this year, the Prisons Service announced that it would amend the regulations for prisoner visitations after it had been revealed that 37 people who were bona fide lawyers had visited Olmert on the pretext of being one of his attorneys. Olmert himself is a former lawyer, and some of his visitors were fellow law students with him at the Hebrew University.
Dershowitz was speaking at the Konrad Adenauer Auditorium at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs’ annual memorial for its founder Prof. Daniel J. Elazar.
He did not specify whether he had visited Olmert in a professional capacity or as a friend.
This year’s memorial event took the form of a dialogue rather than a debate between Dershowitz and JCPA President Dore Gold. The main focus of their discussion was the aftermath of the US presidential election.
Dershowitz, a die-hard Democrat who worked to have Hillary Clinton elected, said that he had actually predicted in his most recent book that the result would be close but that Donald Trump would win. He also predicted a split between the electoral and the popular vote, but he had expected it to go the other way with Trump getting the popular vote and Clinton getting the electoral vote. The reason he supported Clinton, he said, was because he thought she promised greater stability than Trump.
Relating to the divisions among American Jews in trying to decide which of the two candidates would be better for Israel, Dershowitz warned against any disruption to bipartisan support. “We can never allow our election to become a referendum over Israel,” he said.
As for foreseeing what may eventuate under the Trump administration, “We cannot predict anything about the Trump administration other than it’s unpredictable,” said Dershowitz.
When the conversation turned to populism, Dershowitz stated that Trump is not a typical populist in that he is not an ideologue.
Dershowitz suspected that a lot of the views expressed by Trump during the campaign were to get himself elected, and not because he really believes in them.
Populism has never succeeded with a woman, he continued. “Men are populist candidates. We expect women who run for office to be extremely ladylike. Can you imagine a female candidate boasting about her sexual prowess?”
Gold, a recent director-general of the Foreign Ministry, who still remains close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that there is no concern in Israel about the Trump administration becoming hostile to or taking steps against Israel. The president-elect’s team and the prime minister’s team have good relations, he said.
Both Gold and Dershowitz voiced concern over world indifference to what is now happening in Aleppo. Gold was ambassador to the United Nations in the 1990s and he recalled that it was a period of anguish over genocide in Rwanda and Srebrenica, and the determination was that the UN must make sure that such outbursts would not occur again. “What is occurring now in Aleppo is not just mass murder,” said Gold. The Shi’ites are being moved out and the Sunnis are being brought in from all over the Middle East. One thing the new secretary of state has to do is to bring back world order.”
Dershowitz admitted that he is terrified that the incoming US secretary of state has no knowledge of Aleppo and that America’s new ambassador to the UN “probably never heard of Aleppo.”
Dershowitz who twice voted for President Barack Obama blamed him for bringing down world order. “His legacy will be close to that of Neville Chamberlain,” he said, adding that Obama had alienated every country in the Middle East except Iran. “It’s been a disaster,” declared Dershowitz when discussing Obama’s foreign policy. “There is a great failure in the world order.”
He also termed the United Nations “an absolute disaster,” charging it with preventing rather than promoting peace. If it was up to him the UN would be abolished, he said. “It’s done more harm than good.”