Princeton prof turns down Dershowitz challenge
Princeton professor emeritus Richard Falk rejected Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz’s debate challenge over a book that Falk endorsed and that Dershowitz has called “blatantly anti-Semitic.”
“I have a limited taste for the sort of defamatory polemics that the Dershowitz attack mounts,” Falk wrote in an email to The Daily Caller.
In an article published at several outlets, Dershowitz denounced Falk and University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer for lending their endorsement to Gilad Atzmon’s “The Wandering Who?”
According to Dershowitz, the book is “overtly anti-Semitic” and Atzmon, who has declared himself a “proud self-hating Jew,” is a “notorious Jew-hater.”
“Atzmon’s book is the functional equivalent of a book by David Duke and Falk’s name appears on the cover,” Dershowitz told TheDC. “He’s out there hawking a book which suggests Jews are trying to control the world, that the Holocaust is a fictional narrative, that Jews may in fact have killed Christian children to use their blood.”
In his article challenging the two prominent endorsers to debate their support for the book, Dershowitz provides several examples, both from within the book and from Atzmon’s other writings, which he says show the book and Atzmon are anti-Semitic.
“My essential response is that if the book is fairly read, and not denounced, it is concerned exclusively with ‘Jewish identity,’ not with Jews, and explores this reality in a highly personal, passionate, provocative, and honest manner,” Falk said in defense of his endorsement.
“It is a book that deserves debate and reflection, not mindless denunciation, and then rather absurdly directed at the endorsers not the argument.”
“The quotations are taken out of context, edited to be inflammatory, and sometimes just false,” Falk added, referring to examples Dershowitz cited when denouncing the book.
Dershowitz, who denied that he took Atzmon’s words out of context, said “Falk has the burden of explaining to the public why he is collaborating with such evil.”
“Even the most radical anti-Zionists in England have distanced themselves from Atzmon,” said Dershowitz. “This endorsement by Falk and by Mearsheimer crosses a red line. It is the first time that prominent academics have endorsed overt anti-Semitism.”
“If you read the book as a whole it is just a conspiratorial screed,” added Dershowitz, noting he didn’t find it particularly surprising that Falk would support such a screed since he is a “conspiracy theorist” who also “talked about 9/11 being a conspiracy.”
Earlier this year, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice called for Falk’s resignation as United Nations Special Rapporteur to the Palestinian Territories for “endors[ing] the slurs of conspiracy theorists who allege that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were perpetrated and then covered up by the U.S. government and media.”
In July, the United States again called on Falk, who is Jewish, to resign from his U.N. post after he published an anti-Semitic cartoon on his blog. U.N. human rights head Navi Pillay also called the cartoon “anti-Semitic and objectionable.” Falk later removed the cartoon, conceding it “had strongly anti-Semitic symbolism that I had not detected before it was pointed out to me.”
But Falk says he will not debate Dershowitz over his endorsement of Atzmon’s book.
“I can find nothing useful coming from such a debate, and I would feel demeaned if I adopted his tactics and if I didn’t I would feel abused for no good end,” Falk said, turning down Dershowitz’s debate challenge.
Mearsheimer did not return an email for comment on whether he would accept Dershowitz’s call to debate, but in he did defend his endorsement in a September blog post.