Harvard Law School Prof. Alan Dershowitz has been saying the same things for the last 50 years, but now that his message sometimes works inUS President Donald Trump’s favor, he’s lost some friends, Dershowitz told The Times of Israel in a phone interview.
On December 4, the professor emeritus woke up to a tweeting endorsement from Trump:
“A must watch: Legal Scholar Alan Dershowitz was just on @foxandfriends talking of what is going on with respect to the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. political history. Enjoy!”
A must watch: Legal Scholar Alan Dershowitz was just on @foxandfriends talking of what is going on with respect to the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. political history. Enjoy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2017
“So all [Trump] said was watch me on television. That’s fine. I have no problem with that,” Dershowitz said.
But Dershowitz’s friends were unimpressed. “I got a number of emails, many of them started with, ‘Oy vey.’ ‘Oy vey, he’s tweeting about you,’ but it doesn’t bother me. He might support me, I don’t support him,” Dershowitz said.
Dershowitz has been appearing regularly as a commentator on Fox News. He’s quick to point out he’s also commonly featured on CNN and MSNBC but still, many in his liberal circles have not taken the news well.
“If Hillary Clinton had been elected and the Republicans had been yelling, ‘Lock her up,’ I’d be on the same television stations saying the same thing with the same emphasis. So nothing has changed on my part,” he said.
“What has changed is that the division in America is so deep that you can’t support someone’s civil liberties without being mistaken for a political supporter. I voted for Hillary Clinton, I contributed to her campaign, I’m a personal friend of the Clintons,” he said.
“So no one should confuse my commitment to the rule of law with political support for Trump. I oppose much of what Trump is doing,” he said, citing his opposition to Trump’s tax law and travel ban among other issues.
“I’m a liberal Democrat and I continue to be a liberal Democrat but I’m a civil Libertarian first and I put the rule of law first and I think that efforts to target the president with crimes for exercising his constitutional authority endanger democracy,” Dershowitz said.
His latest book, “Trumped Up: How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy,” discusses just that, calling for the rebuilding of a vibrant center base.
“I would have written the same book if Hillary Clinton had been elected president and all of the Republicans had been going after her — but then all of my liberal friends would have been inviting me to dinner and now they’re not, so I’ve lost seven pounds,” he joked.
But Dershowitz, who said he has a thick skin, claims this has had no effect on him.
“I’m hated by the extreme right, I’m hated by the extreme left,” he said with a detectable hint of pride.
“People question my motives. Literally, somebody asked me on television, am I being paid by Trump, am I trying to get on the Supreme Court. I’m 79 years old. I can’t, obviously, be appointed to anything,” he said, finding such accusations to be rather inane. Other allegations insinuate that his pro-Israel stance clouds the legal scholar’s stance on Trump.
Dershowitz retired from teaching three years ago but remains a prolific commentator and writer — 95% of which is not about Trump. His next book, dropping in January, is called “The Case Against BDS.” He is also finishing up a memoir covering his 70-year relationship with Israel from watching the UN Partition Plan vote on television in 1947 to Trump’s recognition of Israel. The book will cover his personal relationships with Israeli prime ministers starting from Golda Meir and on.
“Look, I never stop,” Dershowitz said. “I’m going to keep being active as long as the Lord gives me the energy to be active. I don’t want to just walk on the beach. That’s not my style.”
Dershowitz writes about five hours a day in addition to his other work — but still manages to add in an occasional walk on the beach and a good meal.
“As soon as I finish the interview I’m going to get into the jacuzzi and I’m going to take a long walk with my wife and we’re meeting friends for dinner and that will be the end of my day.”