Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor and Jewish activist, came direct from the White House to the 15th anniversary banquet of the Brownstone organization at the Manhattan Center on March 7. He was part of a group of Jewish leaders who met with President Barack Obama prior to his first visit to Israel on March 20.
“Our meeting was off the record so I can’t tell you what the president said,” Dershowitz told me. When I mentioned that Likud member Moshe Feiglin threatened to boycott the president’s speech in the Knesset if he doesn’t bring Jonathan Pollard with him, Dershowitz replied, “The president is not bringing Pollard and he’s not going to address the Knesset. He’ll be speaking probably at the Jerusalem convention center.”
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“Obama got plenty of ideas from us,” Dershowitz said. “It’s important that he make clear to the mullahs that Iran will not be permitted to develop nuclear weapons. The United States will not compromise on Israel’s security.””
He said that’s the message he brought to the White House parley. If Israel is to be at peace, it must maintain its overwhelming power. “There will never be peace without power,” he asserted.
“Jews need power—moral power and military power. Only if they have the swords can they turn them into plowshares. Imagine what the world would look like if there really was peace and Israel can turn its nuclear might into nuclear medicine for the world’s benefit! Already Israel saves more lives per capita with its export of nanotechnology and agricultural drip techniques than any country in the world.”
Dershowitz recalled when Martin Buber asked Ghandi to speak out for the Jewish people under attack by the Nazis, and Ghandi declined, saying, You have morality on your side; it will all work out. “After six million,” Dershowitz said, “it did not work out. How dare any country urge Israel to make compromises with the safety of its people!”
He added, “America says it has Israel’s back. That’s not good enough. Israel must depend on its own ability to defeat the enemy. That’s the key lesson of the Shoah.”
Brownstone is a young leadership initiative of Gateways, the prominent outreach organization. Its founding president, Rabbi Mordechai Suchard, paid tribute to Kevin Bermeister and Greg Gurevich at the dinner. Among the guests were Sam Domb, Rose Friedman and Marina Kovalyov.