I graduated from the Boston University School of Law in 1983. We who studied at BU Law knew there was another law school across the Charles River. Some of us were lucky to study contracts with a retired Harvard Law School professor who found his way to BU. Yet, those of us intrigued by Constitutional Law could only imagine what was going on in the Harvard classrooms of Professors Lawrence Tribe and Alan Dershowitz. While Prof. Lupu was engaging, they were the leading lights of late 20th century constitutional jurisprudence.
As a Jewish activist since the 1990’s, I have been fortunate to be in the presence of many of the greatest American Jewish minds of our time. Once again, Alan Dershowitz emerged as a voice of passionate reason and pure Jewish pride. His blatant Zionism during difficult times for Israel made him a cultural hero. The publication of “Chutzpah” seemed to herald an era of American Jewish pride and prominence.
Yet, something has happened to Alan Dershowitz. Listening to him this morning I could not believe my ears. That he views Trump’s actions with respect to Ukraine to be within the bounds of legitimate acceptable constitutionally appropriate behavior boggles my mind. The testimony of the brave civil servants who stepped forward to testify, especially Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, deserves more consideration from someone who once heralded the virtues of “chutzpah.”
Let me be clear. I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats during the course of my political life. My distaste for the current state of political affairs is non-partisan. While Israel remains one of my key issues, today my primary concern is for the integrity of the American system of checks and balances. For the system to work, the three independent branches of government must be supported by a common set of values and a shared sense of reality amongst members of the society.
Yet, Donald Trump’s approach to governing is to sow discord and division here at home, while spinning lies and alternative facts in his toxic media universe. Today, as the US stops to remember the great legacy of Martin Luther King, let us reflect on where the demagoguery of Donald Trump has brought us. That one of the great Jewish minds of our time, Alan Dershowitz, has the chutzpah to defend the most incompetent individual to ever hold the office of the President, is what my ancestors would call an embarrassment, or to put it in our mother tongue, a “shanda.”