Dershowitz: Jews have rights in Hebron

Exclusive: Says gov't can compromise residents' rights to seek peace.

alan dershowitz 88 (photo credit: )
alan dershowitz 88
(photo credit: )
"Though the residents of Hebron clearly have the right to live there, the government of Israel also has the right to compromise its citizens in pursuit of peace," said Harvard Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post on Monday. Having just given a masterclass lecture in democracy and demography at the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) in Jerusalem to a hand-picked group of Israel's brightest university students, Dershowitz also maintained that since Amona is an illegal outpost it "sounded perfectly right that the courts should order it to be dismantled." His interactive talk with the twenty or so students focused on attempting to define the precise nature of Jewish democracy, as well as the issues surrounding the region's demographic status and a delineation of what is not considered acceptable in a democracy. "Democracy requires that Jews and Arabs must be treated equally," he said, "It worked for the Japanese in the US who were a very insular community in the 1940s but who now feature as highly successful and extremely well integrated members of society." Dershowitz then offered a number of solutions which might, he hoped, facilitate greater integration, namely the possibility of allowing Israeli Arabs to serve in the Israeli Army or reducing the impositions on their immigration to Israel. However, he warned that history had shown that assimilation was not always positively accepted by all ethnic groups. He also claimed that there had been problems with the integration of other Jews into the country, especially the Ethiopians, who in the light of the harsh treatment they received on making aliyah, in comparison to their Russian brethren, had been dealt with an "abjectly racist" fashion. As far as Dershowitz is concerned there are also three "non-options" for dealing with the problems faced by a Jewish democratic society: Turning it into a non-democracy, forcing everyone to become orthodox or encouraging birth control. He acknowledged that borders must be created with the demographic issue in mind, despite statistics projecting a Palestinian majority in the area in the near future. Professor Sergio Della Pergola of the Hebrew University also spoke about the need to deal with the impending demographic problem and outlined a number of solutions such as the creation of political boundaries to ensure a stable Jewish majority as well as promoting higher levels of life quality and competitiveness in a global context. Director general of JPPI, Avinoam Bar Yosef noted that the purpose of the masterclass, held every couple of months and previously attended by the likes of Binyamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres, is to "expose these students to some of the best Jewish minds engaged in strategic thinking." Participant Asaf Ovadia from Ben-Gurion University said that he had enjoyed the lectures, in particular Dershowitz's talk, because "he raised interesting questions about the moral struggle of the State of Israel." However, Ovadia asserted that in cases where morality and democracy conflict with each other, "I would prefer the former approach over the latter as democracy itself does not always represent the moral option."