Dershowitz: tongue-tied

Ankyloglossia: An anomaly whereby an unusually thick membrane known as the lingual frenulum tethers the tongue to the floor of the mouth, affecting speech. Commonly known as “tongue-tie,” it is a neonatal condition, often treated by a minor surgical procedure following birth known as a frenotomy.

With this in mind, it is particularly interesting that a fully grown man in his senior years, Harvard professor of law Alan Dershowitz, who during his entire adult life has demonstrated verbal proficiency, wit and oral agility, appears to be tongue-tied. Stranger still is that it is specifically related to his pet subject: Israel. This must a first time in medical history that the lingual frenulum has re-tethered the tongue back to the floor of the mouth after a lifetime of free, bold and sometimes unconstrained movement.

A fearless defender of Israel in the face of falsities such as the apartheid analogy offered by ex-president Carter in his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” Dershowitz is not one who is afraid to lash out, to defend his beliefs, to seek the underdog in the drama of events and state his case, whether in the courtroom or the court of public opinion. This begs the question: Why the curious silence after a recent string of events in Israel that are about to plunge the Jewish state to a point of no return en route to self-destruct?

Starting with the outrages regarding Migron, an illegal settlement built on privately owned Palestinian land and populated by rogue settlers. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled categorically in favor of correcting this wrong, yet the government found it appropriate to challenge this ruling. Following that defeat, a string of cabinet ministers from the Netanyahu government made a pilgrimage to Migron to appease this handful of violators of the law. The reason: the Likud has within it some 15,000 members aligned to the settler endeavor who vote on bloc in the primaries, thereby determining future representation and leadership in the government and the Knesset. The appeasement? Settlers who abandon the outpost will be resettled in yet another settlement at a cost of some $500,000 apiece for 40 new homes. We are in effect witnessing reward for land-theft and lawlessness, together with bribery for political gain.

And it gets worse. Shortly after that a similar ruling on the five Ulpana buildings in yet another settlement are, by court order to be removed. The government of Israel this time pays more: they will build another 850 homes in occupied territory. When it comes to settlement and populating the land designated for the proposed Palestinian state money is no object.

Dershowitz has steadfastly supported the two-state solution and it’s clearly under attack by the current government, plain as day. Behind the scenes of very real security issues and the drama of Iran’s nuclear quest the two-state solution is being consistently eroded by single purposed settler tenacity and thus increasingly rendered non-viable. Shouldn’t he be out there defending it?  Dershowitz is shtum. Tongue-tied.

Theatre of the absurd transmutes to bizarre when retired conservative judge Edmond Levy, commissioned by a settlement-passionate Likud government to provide a veil of legality for fanatic expansion in the area designated for a future Palestine, concludes: there is no occupation.

Where is Dershowitz? These are both legal and existential issues regarding the sustainability of the State of Israel, Dershowitz’s prime zone of expertise. Yet the man remains tongue-tied.

Is it not clear to him that the inclusion of some 4 million Palestinian citizens between the sea and the Jordan River is a far greater threat to the Jewish State and it’s sustainability than the antics of Carter? Is he not aware the Judea and Samaria Council dominate the Likud both from within and through its coalition partners? Is it not apparent that Netanyahu pays lip service to the two-state solution while his cabinet boasts one of the highest settlement rates in a decade? Does he not know that annexation or declaration of sovereignty over part or all of the occupied West Bank is gaining alarming momentum? Is he not concerned that Israel is in breach of the Roadmap sponsored by the US, Russia, the UN and Europe while the Abbas government has met its commitments? Silence.

No wonder then, that subsequent to this consensual silence from US Jewry (with minor exceptions such as JStreet), Dani Dayan, the head of the Judea and Samaria Council brazenly praises and boasts how settlement in occupied territory is here to stay in his New York Times opinion piece, pledging an end to the two-state concept. The gaping pothole in this exposition is of course the fate of the Palestinian people in this Brave New Greater Israel. That is kept safely behind closed doors: either they will be second class citizens without voting rights or they will vote within Bantustan-type enclaves or be “incentivized” to transfer to Jordan, none of which will ever wash and will drive Israel directly into the Apartheid corner, this time with justification. If Dayan’s omission is a pothole, Dershowitz’s tongue-tied silence is a vast black hole. It is shameful, no less.

Professor Dershowitz, I challenge you to speak out. Your silence is no less than complicity in a neo-apartheid state that is about to emerge. And I use the A word as an expatriate South African with caution and deference to my South African countrymen and women who suffered from this crime against humanity. I use it with trepidation and concern towards my fellow Israelis and brethren in the Jewish world. We are at the 11th hour here and you, sir, are silent. You may defeat your nemesis, Carter in debate, but history is about to prove him correct.

And if you cannot move your tongue, find a neonatal Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. This will indeed be a unique case for medical history.

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.