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Dershowitz to Discuss Israel at UCLA

Student groups host controversial speaker, who has repeatedly defended the country’s military actions. [The UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies and the School of Law are co-sponsoring the event with two student groups.]

He is concerned with balancing what we call human rights interests with the needs of survival.

This article was first published in The Daily Bruin.

By Jennifer Mishory, Daily Bruin reporter

HARVARD LAW Professor Alan Dershowitz, who has gained notoriety for both his work on several high-profile criminal defense cases such as the O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson trials and his vocal support of Israel, will be speaking on campus today.

The topic, which Dershowitz calls "How the World's Obsessive Focus on Israel's Imperfections Takes Attention Away from Real Genocide," will be moderated by UCLA Law Professor Jonathan Zasloff.

The event, sponsored by students groups including UCLA Hillel and Bruins for Israel, will be an interview-style discussion with Zasloff. It will then be opened up for a question-and-answer session with the audience, said Bruins for Israel president Leeron Morad.

Dershowitz has repeatedly defended the actions of the Israeli military against accusations of human rights violations. Morad called Dershowitz "one of the strongest supporters for Israel."

In 2003, Dershowitz published "The Case for Israel" and has maintained a high profile, frequently taking part in debates and publishing articles. He also published a book about the O.J. Simpson trial.

According to his personal Web site, Dershowitz supports a two-state solution, citing extremism on both sides of the issue.

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller of UCLA Hillel said Dershowitz is concerned with the double standard to which the rest of the world holds Israel.

"He is concerned with balancing what we call human rights interests with the needs of survival," Seidler-Feller said.

The student groups invited him to help inform the student community about Israel's side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Morad said.

"He's always willing to come to speak to students ... to give himself to campuses," Seidler-Feller said.

The event will likely attract people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian debate.

"I hope anyone who may disagree with Dershowitz should come to the event to ask him a question," Morad said.

Randa Wahbe, co-president of UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine, said she plans to attend the event.

"We're definitely interested in what Dershowitz has to say just because we believe in freedom of speech," she said.

But Wahbe called bringing Dershowitz to campus "a barrier to peace" and said she believes Dershowitz has skewed facts and lacks credibility.

Center for Near Eastern Studies