February 19, 2009


Published February 10, 2010, issue of February 19, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Goldstone’s Ad Hominem Argument

Regarding your February 12 article “Dershowitz Explains Critical Goldstone Remark: ‘Moser’? I Meant ‘Monster!’” I would like to note that Richard Goldstone has repeatedly declined to debate me on the merits of his report. Nor has he responded to my 49-page substantive critique, which is available online at www.alandershowitz.com/goldstone.pdf. Instead, Goldstone has responded to critics of his report by pointing to his Jewishness, his Zionism and his connections to Hebrew University. That is an argument by ethnic identity, namely that an anti-Israel argument is made stronger if offered by a Jew. It is a variation on the classic argument ad hominem.

It is precisely because Goldstone has so frequently invoked his Jewishness to attack the Jewish state that I stand by what I said to IDF Radio, namely that he is “someone who betrays his own people.” I did not repeat, nor did I understand, the Hebrew word used by the man who interviewed me in English over the telephone. I thought he used the English word “monster,” rather than the Hebrew word “moser.” (Rabbi Yosef Blau suggests that I might have learned the word moser in the yeshiva we both attended, but he didn’t tell your reporter what a terrible yeshiva student I was!) I certainly did not mean to imply that any physical harm should come to Goldstone. That is why I retracted the term “traitor,” which carries a somewhat different connotation in Israel than in the United States, even though I think its meaning suits Goldstone perfectly.

The headline of the Forward story — quoting me as saying “‘moser’? I meant ‘monster!’” — is entirely made up. I never used those quoted words. I told your reporter that I answered “absolutely” to the question of whether I believe Goldstone is “someone who betrays his own people.” Moreover, the use of the photograph accompanying the story suggests that it somehow relates to the Goldstone matter. It is actually a photograph of me being removed by Swiss police as I tried to challenge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about his Holocaust denial.

Goldstone’s report should be rejected on its numerous demerits. The added fact that it was authored by a Jew, who was selected precisely because he is a Jew, should not increase its credibility. I will promise not to make any ad hominem arguments against the report if he stops making ad hominem arguments in its favor. Or, to paraphrase what Adlai Stevenson once promised a political opponent: If you stop lying about me, I will stop telling the truth about you.

Alan Dershowitz
Cambridge, Mass.

Alan Dershowitz says he was not familiar with the term moser — a Hebrew word describing a Jew who informs on other Jews. But Rabbi Yosef Blau is quoted in your news article suggesting that Alan must have heard the term as a child.

Well, I can vouch for Alan. Until the Rabin assassination, I had never heard of the word moser either. I grew up in Boro Park, Brooklyn, as did Alan. I attended Orthodox shuls and graduated from the same yeshiva as Alan (but a couple of years ahead of him). I am referring to Yeshiva Etz Chaim, also known as the Hebrew Institute of Boro Park. That was a great institution. Too bad it’s no longer around.

Seymour D. Reich
New York, N.Y.

The writer is a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.