On Friday, August 14, The Jerusalem Post Frontlines section featured a massive two-page article by David Brinn about allegations leveled against American lawyer and legal scholar Alan Dershowitz. As I read it, my thoughts reverted to the ordeal endured by US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when the Me Too movement attempted to smear him over alleged sexual assault without a scintilla of supporting proof.
I was traumatized watching the Senate hearing, which made McCarthyism pale in comparison. Having been a CEO of a major international company and a leader confronting global Jewish challenges, which involved engagement with thousands of women, I realized that in today’s insane climate, it would only take one woman to go to the media and accuse me of sexual misconduct. She would soon be joined by others and Me Too supporters baying for my blood. Although entirely without evidence, their unsubstantiated testimony could transform me overnight into a pariah.
Unfortunately, there are, of course, sexual predators who should have been dealt with long ago, and for that reason, initially I considered the Me Too movement a highly overdue effort to stamp out these abominations.
But the Kavanaugh episode demonstrated that unless the rule of law was accompanied by a presumption of innocence, the solution to misogyny propagated by the Me Too movement, if left unchecked, would result in innocent lives being shamelessly defamed and ruined.
Unfortunately, the media has always been selective in whom they investigate. Contrary to the unrelenting attacks on Kavanagh, when Joe Biden was faced with accusations of harassment, the media rightly refused to blindly accept the allegations.
Dershowitz is one of the most competent lawyers in the United States and renowned as a liberal and civil libertarian. His is a prominent Democrat who, until last year, was a darling of the media.
He is one of the most effective defenders of Israel, promoting the case for Israel in books, articles and innumerable addresses to frequently hostile campus audiences and has not been afraid in recent years to castigate the anti-Semitism of the radical progressive elements of the Democratic Party. Over the past year, however, he committed the cardinal sin of defending some of US President Donald Trump’s policies and went so far as to argue during Trump’s impeachment trial that there were no legal grounds to remove the president from office. This outraged his former liberal supporters and turned the liberal media against him.
He is regarded to be among the world’s best criminal lawyers and has successfully defended some of the allegedly worst and most disgusting suspects. He takes pride in providing the best defense possible to all, which he considers a hallmark of democracy.
Having successfully negotiated a plea deal for the now deceased, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in the first criminal case against him, Dershowitz is now undergoing a Cavanaugh-type witch hunt and, without any evidence, is being accused of having sex with a minor who was allegedly trafficked by Epstein.
The accusation against Dershowitz is so obviously suspect that he deserves the presumption of innocence. If the media is to report on the allegations, they should at the very least be investigating the veracity of the claims of his accusers, rather than shoddily implying that “where there is smoke there is fire.”
As Dershowitz has pointed out, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who raised the allegations against him, has a long history of fabricating stories about prominent people, including Al and Tipper Gore, Bill Clinton and Leslie Wexner. Her own lawyer has even admitted that Giuffre falsely accused Wexner and other prominent individuals. Another of her lawyers has said that she was “wrong … simply wrong” in accusing Dershowitz because his travel records conclusively prove that he could not have been in the places where she claimed to have met with him. Her own emails and book manuscript even admit that she never met Dershowitz. She tried to suppress these documents because they prove the falsity of her claims but eventually they came to light. Yet the media has not focused on this evidence.
Another woman who falsely accused Dershowitz of having sex with her when she was a 22-year-old had sent The New York Post a series of emails in the runup to the 2016 election in which she claimed to have sex tapes of Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Richard Branson. She also claimed that Hillary Clinton has arranged for the CIA to kill her and she was now working with the KGB. Ultimately, she admitted that she had invented the whole story – just as she invented the story about Dershowitz.
A third one who claimed to have seen Dershowitz in Epstein’s presence with young women, has now been exposed as a virulent anti-Semite who has accused all Jews of being pedophiles and racists under the domination of the Rothschild family.
Not coincidently, all three of these false accusers have the same lawyer, with a long history of ethical violations. Dershowitz is suing the lawyer as well as his accusers.
Dershowitz is not entitled to any special treatment by the media because of his history of good deeds. But if anyone deserves the presumption of innocence in the Jewish media – indeed in any media – it is Dershowitz, who is well known for telling the truth about Israel and matters of law and civil liberties.
The tragedy is that these lawsuits, necessitated by false accusations against him, have diverted Dershowitz from his major task of defending Israel and human rights. As a result, he is persona non grata and no longer invited to speak in defense of Israel on college campuses and other major platforms.
All of us who consider that Dershowitz is being denied natural justice and smeared by word of mouth, in the absence of any genuine evidence against him, should speak up and show him the support that his lifetime of good works has earned him. That applies, in particular, to Israel supporters for his courageous defense of the Jewish state.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom