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Henry Norr on KPFA interview of zionist Alan Dershowitz

I had KPFA on this morning, and around 11:45, during Jazz Passages (the every-other-Wednesday incarnation of Music of the World). I was astonished to hear a totally uncritical interview with Alan Dershowitz by Gabrielle Wilson, special co-host with Doug Edwards today.

The focus of the segment was Dershowitz's latest book, "America on Trial: Inside the Legal Battles That Transformed Our Nation--From the Salem Witches to the Guantanamo Detainees," about which Wilson was positively gushing. The interview, and apparently the book, reflect Dershowitz's liberal side, including his view that all detainees have a right to due process. That's fine as far as it goes (though I wonder what folks like Michael Rattner might have to say about the limits of Dershowitz's liberalism).

What I was really hoping was that Gabrielle would confront him, or at least remind listeners about, some other aspects of his record: for example, his active advocacy of the torture of prisoners suspected of having any information about terrorism; his public enthusiasm for the apartheid wall, extra-judicial assassinations, and just about every other crime of the Israelis; his constant characterization of almost any criticism of Israel as anti-semitic; and his demonstrable and despicable racism towards Arabs.

Judging by what Wilson and Dershowitz themselves said about this particular book - which is all I know about it - it doesn't deal with these issues. But they are not just some obscure aspect of Dershowitz's past - they are a major component of his public persona, the subject of many of his articles and speeches and several of his books, including the recent one Norman Finkelstein took apart on Democracy Now last spring.

Sadly, however, there was not a syllable about any of this during the KPFA segment.

After the interview, Edwards took it upon himself to praise Wilson for her fine work.

If Dershowitz were a prominent advocate of apartheid in South Africa, would Wilson and Edwards have chosen to feature a book of his, even if it dealt with a different subject? If they had done so, would they have kept silent about his views on South Africa? I suspect and hope not.

But then how can they justify their fawning treatment of this major proponent of apartheid and murder in Palestine?

In fact, if they or any other KPFA hosts had featured a prominent apologist for apartheid in Africa, it would at a minimum have stirred up a huge brouhaha at the station and among the listeners. I'm sorry to say I expect nothing of the kind in this case.

Henry Norr

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PUBLIC FORUM: KPFA/Pacifica - Democracy Deferred?


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