Sept. 15, 2006
Staying true to Israel
Keep support coming, says Dershowitz.
Toronto's United Jewish Appeal kicked off its annual fund-raising
and emergency campaign last Wednesday, Sept. 6, with an event held
at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Law professor Alan Dershowitz
was the featured speaker. Dershowitz is well known for some of the
high-profile court cases he has worked on, including his work on
the appellate team for the O.J. Simpson murder trial in the early
1990s. He has also authored or edited a number of books, most recently
What Israel Means to Me.
The event campaign hopes to add to the $42 million already raised
so far. Fourteen million of that goes directly to Israel. Dershowitz
praised the Toronto Jewish community, saying, "Don't underestimate
your own heroism."
Two thousand people attended the launch, which included a live feed
from Israel. Soldiers, children and community members from the northern
town of Kiryat Shemona woke up at four in the morning to thank the
Toronto community for its support.
More than 1,250 homes in Kiryat Shemona were destroyed when rockets
fired from Lebanon struck. So far, Toronto has sent six million
dollars from its emergency campaign to help repair the damage.
But we can still do more, Dershowitz said. "We're the most
fortunate generation in Jewish history. We owe it to our children
and grandchildren to support Israel."
He stressed that all Jewish communities around the world are part
of the Jewish army part of the defence of Israel. He pointed
out that in the recent war against Hezbollah, the terrorist group
challenged the democracy of Israel; that it attacked Israelis and
then hid among Lebanese civilians, challenging Israel to retaliate
and kill dozens of innocent people.
He quoted former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, who, in speaking
about Palestinian terrorists, said, "We can perhaps forgive
you for killing our children, but we can never forgive you for making
us kill your children."
"Israel," said Dershowitz, "is responding to people
who love death." And in turn, he said, the country is being
criticized for fighting in a war it did not begin; criticized for
not destroying Hezbollah outright and for causing the deaths of
"Israel fought a war with clean hands and purity of arms, yet
it is still condemned," Dershowitz noted. He insisted that
democracies must fight terrorists with one hand tied behind their
backs and rise above them with morality. No one, he said, can hold
Israel to a higher standard than Israel itself does. Every major
military decision is approved by a legal team. In 75 years of war
against terrorists, no country has caused fewer civilian deaths
or shown more sensitivity to human rights, yet no other country
has been condemned by society, by the United Nations and by Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch.
Of the UN, Dershowitz said, "All of its resolutions against
Israel tell us nothing about Israel, but they do tell us about the
United Nations." In response to criticism from human rights
groups, Dershowitz admitted that the situation in Israel is a terrible
one. But he pointed out that during the war in Lebanon, those human
rights groups were quick to ignore suffering in other countries,
such as Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. "Organizations standing
for human rights are standing for human wrongs," he said.
Dershowitz said that the hostility of the world against Israel
growing stronger in countries such as France and Britain
must be combatted. As the world turns its back on Israel, Dershowitz
said, young people will have a harder time defending it. He called
on the Jewish community to fight the hatred at the earliest and
the youngest level.
"Do we have enough young people to stand up for Israel in 10
years, 20, 30, 50, 100 years?" he asked.
Dershowitz offered himself to any community and any school in Canada
to speak, via satellite, to make the case for Israel. In the meantime,
he praised the Toronto UJA for its support.
"Israel's goal is to produce peace with strength," he
said. "The Toronto Jewish community is center to that."
Dana Bookman is a Toronto freelance writer.