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Bintel Brief: Alan Dershowitz Examines Whether Hamas Opinion Articles Are Fit To Print

Professor Dershowitz,

Do you think that the publishing of opinion articles by Hamas officials in The New York Times and The Washington Post constitutes material support to terrorists as defined in the Patriot Act?

Thank you for all of your great and inspiring work on behalf of Israel.

FIT TO PRINT?

Alan Dershowitz replies:

I do not believe that the publication of Hamas opinion articles constitutes material support to terrorists as defined in the Patriot Act. More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote that the expression of an opinion, even an immoral and dangerous one, cannot constitute the kind of overt act that would make it a crime.

A more fundamental question is whether great newspapers should exercise their First Amendment rights by publishing or by refusing to publish Hamas propaganda. The decision should be made on the basis of a consistent principle. Would they have published a pro-Nazi article in the 1930s, after the Nazis won the German election? Would they have published an article by David Duke after he won his primary election? Can they distinguish Hamas? The decision might also turn on the content of the particular opinion article. Is it simple propaganda, or does it make an interesting point? Does it contain any hint of a peace overture?

A newspaper is not obligated to present all points of view. It may choose to do so, but if it does, it should have a consistent policy.


Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is the author of numerous books, including “Chutzpah,” “The Vanishing American Jew,” “The Genesis of Justice,” “The Case for Israel,” “The Case for Peace” and, most recently, “Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence.”

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