|Birth Day:||September 1, 1938|
|Birth Place:||Brooklyn, United States|
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Dershowitz was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on September 1, 1938, the son of Claire (née Ringel) and Harry Dershowitz, an Orthodox Jewish couple. He was raised in Borough Park. His father was a founder and president of the Young Israel of Boro Park Synagogue in the 1960s, served on the board of directors of the Etz Chaim School in Borough Park, and in retirement was co-owner of the Manhattan-based Merit Sales Company. Dershowitz's first job was at a deli factory on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1952, at age 14.
Dershowitz attended Yeshiva University High School, an independent boys' prep school owned by Yeshiva University, in Manhattan, New York City, where he played on the basketball team. He was a rebellious student, often criticized by his teachers. He later said his teachers told him to do something that "requires a big mouth and no brain ... so I became a lawyer". After graduating from high school, he attended Brooklyn College and received his A.B. in 1959, majoring in Political Science. Next, he attended Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, and graduated first in his class with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) in 1962. He was a member of a Conservative minyan at Harvard Hillel but is a secular Jew.
Dershowitz's first wife was the late Sue Barlach. In his book Chutzpah, he described Barlach as an "Orthodox Jewish girl." The two met during high school at a Jewish summer camp in the Catskills. They married in 1959, when Dershowitz was age 20 and Barlach was 18 years old. Barlach and Dershowitz had two sons together: Elon Dershowitz (born 1961), a film producer, and Jamin Dershowitz (born 1963), an attorney. Barlach and Dershowitz separated in 1973 and divorced in 1976. Although Barlach was initially given custody, Dershowitz fought for and was later awarded full custody of their children. The New Yorker reported that Barlach later worked as a research librarian and "drowned in the East River, in an apparent suicide" on New Year's Eve, 1983.
He told Tom Van Riper of Forbes that getting a Supreme Court clerkship was probably his second big break. His first was at age 14 or 15, when a camp counselor told him he was smart but that his mind operated a little differently. He joined the faculty of Harvard Law School as an assistant professor in 1964, and was made a full professor in 1967 at the age of 28, at that time the youngest full professor of law in the school's history. He was appointed Felix Frankfurter professor of law in 1993. Dershowitz retired from teaching at Harvard Law in December 2013. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
In 1976, Dershowitz handled the successful appeal of Harry Reems, who had been convicted of distribution of obscenity resulting from his acting in the pornographic movie Deep Throat. Dershowitz argued against censorship of pornography on First Amendment grounds, and maintained that consumption of pornography was not harmful.
Dershowitz was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 1979, and in 1983 received the William O. Douglas First Amendment Award from the Anti-Defamation League for his work on civil rights. In November 2007, he was awarded the Soviet Jewry Freedom Award by the Russian Jewish Community Foundation. In December 2011, he was awarded the Menachem Begin Award of Honor by the Menachem Begin Heritage Center at an event co-sponsored by NGO Monitor. He has been awarded honorary doctorates in law from Yeshiva University, the Hebrew Union College, Monmouth University, University of Haifa, Syracuse University, Fitchburg State College, Bar-Ilan University, and Brooklyn College. In addition, he is a member of the International Advisory Board of NGO Monitor.
In one of his first high-profile cases, Dershowitz represented Claus von Bülow, a British socialite, at his appeal for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny von Bülow, who went into a coma in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1980 (and later died in 2008). He ultimately succeeded in having the conviction overturned, and von Bülow was acquitted in a retrial. Dershowitz told the story of the case in his book, Reversal of Fortune: Inside the von Bülow case (1985), which was turned into a movie in 1990. Dershowitz was played by actor Ron Silver, and Dershowitz himself had a cameo role as a judge.
In 1989, Dershowitz filed a defamation suit against Cardinal Józef Glemp, then Archbishop of Warsaw, on behalf of Rabbi Avi Weiss. That summer, Weiss and six other members of the Jewish community in New York had staged a protest at the Auschwitz concentration camp over the presence of a controversial convent of nuns. Weiss and the protesters were ejected after attempting to scale a wall surrounding the convent. In an August 1989 speech, Glemp referenced the incident and ascribed a violent intent to the protesters, saying "Recently, a squad of seven Jews from New York launched an attack on the convent at Oswiecim (Auschwitz). They did not kill the nuns or destroy the convent only because they were stopped." In the same speech, Glemp made anti-semitic remarks suggesting that Jews control the news media. Dershowitz's suit centered on these statements. Dershowitz's account of the lawsuit appears in his 1991 book Chutzpah.
Dershowitz sued The Boston Globe in 1990 over a remark reporter Mike Barnicle attributed to him, in which Dershowitz allegedly said he preferred Asian women because they are deferential to men. Dershowitz reportedly received a $75,000 out-of-court settlement, and the newspaper's ombudsman questioned Barnicle's credibility, according to The Boston Phoenix.
Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Dershowitz published an article in The San Francisco Chronicle entitled "Want to Torture? Get a Warrant", in which he advocated the issuance of warrants permitting the torture of terrorism suspects if there were an "absolute need to obtain immediate information in order to save lives coupled with probable cause that the suspect had such information and is unwilling to reveal it". He argued that authorities should be permitted to use non-lethal torture in a ticking time bomb scenario and that it would be less destructive to the rule of law to regulate the process than to leave it to the discretion of individual law-enforcement agents. He favors preventing the government from prosecuting the subject of torture based on information revealed during such an interrogation. A play based on the scenario and written by Robert Fothergill has been named after Dershowitz.
In March 2002, Dershowitz published an article in The Jerusalem Post entitled "New Response to Palestinian Terrorism". In it, he wrote that Israel should announce a unilateral cessation in retaliation, at the end of which it would "announce precisely what it will do in response to the next act of terrorism. For example, it could announce the first act of terrorism following the moratorium will result in the destruction of a small village which has been used as a base for terrorist operations. The residents would be given 24 hours to leave, and then, troops will come in and bulldoze all of the buildings." The list of targets would be made public in advance. The proposal attracted criticism from within Harvard University and beyond. James Bamford argued in The Washington Post that it would violate international law. Norman Finkelstein wrote that "it is hard to make out any difference between the policy Dershowitz advocates and the Nazi destruction of Lidice, for which he expresses abhorrence – except that Jews, not Germans, would be implementing it".
In 2006, Dershowitz argued for the prosecution of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for incitement to genocide based on his threat of "wiping Israel off the map". His 2015 book, The Case Against the Iran Deal, Dershowitz argues that the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has urged the Iranian military "to have two nuclear bombs ready to go off in January 2005 or you're not Muslims". On February 29, 2012, Dershowitz filed an amicus brief in support of delisting the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) from the State Department list of foreign terrorist organization.
In July 2006, Dershowitz wrote a series of articles defending the conduct of the Israel Defense Forces during the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict. There was an international outcry at the time regarding escalating Lebanese civilian deaths and the destruction of civilian infrastructure resulting from Israel's stated attempt to weaken or destroy Hezbollah. After the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour indicated that Israeli officials might be investigated and indicted for possible war crimes, Dershowitz labelled her statement "bizarre", called for her dismissal, and wrote about what he called the "absurdity and counterproductive nature of current international law". In an op-ed several days later in The Boston Globe, he argued that Israel was not to blame for civilian deaths: "Israel has every self-interest in minimizing civilian casualties, whereas the terrorists have every self-interest in maximizing them – on both sides. Israel should not be condemned for doing what every democracy would and should do: taking every reasonable military step to stop the killing of their own civilians."
In October 2006, Dershowitz wrote to DePaul University faculty members to lobby against Finkelstein's application for tenure, accusing Finkelstein of academic dishonesty. The university's Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty voted to send a letter of complaint to Harvard University. In June 2007, DePaul University denied Finkelstein tenure.
In March 2006, John Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, co-wrote a paper entitled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy", published in The London Review of Books. Mearsheimer and Walt criticized what they described as "the Israel lobby" for influencing U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East in a direction away from U.S. interests, and toward Israel's interests. They referred to Dershowitz specifically as an "apologist" for the Israel lobby. In an interview in March 2006 for The Harvard Crimson, Dershowitz called the article "one-sided", and its authors "liars" and "bigots". The following day on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, he suggested the paper had been taken from various hate sites: "Every paragraph virtually is copied from a neo-Nazi Web site, from a radical Islamic Web site, from David Duke's Web site." Dershowitz subsequently wrote a report challenging the paper, arguing that it contained "three types of major errors: Quotations are wrenched out of context, important facts are misstated or omitted, and embarrassingly weak logic is employed." In a letter in the London Review of Books in May 2006, Mearsheimer and Walt denied that they had used any racist sources for their article, writing that Dershowitz had failed to offer any evidence to support his claim.
Dershowitz has engaged in highly publicized debates with several other commentators, including Meir Kahane, Noam Chomsky, and Norman Finkelstein. When former U.S. President Jimmy Carter had his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006) published – in which he argues that Israel's control of Palestinian land is the primary obstacle to peace – Dershowitz challenged Carter to a debate at Brandeis University. Carter declined, saying, "I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz. There is no need to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine." Carter did address Brandeis in January 2007, but only Brandeis students and staff were allowed to attend. Dershowitz was invited to respond on the same stage only after Carter had left. He authored an editorial in the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post accusing Alice Walker of bigotry for refusing to have her novel The Color Purple published by an Israeli firm.
The first investigation into Epstein concluded with a controversial non-prosecution agreement which Dershowitz helped negotiate on Epstein's behalf. On June 30, 2008, after Epstein pleaded guilty to a state charge (one of two) of procuring for prostitution a girl below age 18 and he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
During the 2008 Democratic Party primaries, Dershowitz endorsed Hillary Clinton, calling her "a progressive on social issues, a realist on foreign policy, a pragmatist on the economy". In 2012, he strongly supported Barack Obama's re-election, writing, "President Obama has earned my vote on the basis of his excellent judicial appointments, his consensus-building foreign policy, and the improvements he has brought about in the disastrous economy he inherited." In 2018, after a photo with then-Senator Obama and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan at a 2005 meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus emerged, Dershowitz insisted that he never would have campaigned for Obama had the photo been publicized soon after it was taken.
In a December 30, 2014 Florida court filing, Virginia Giuffre alleged she was sexually trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein, who lent her to people for sex, including Dershowitz and Prince Andrew. The motion claimed that Dershowitz was also an eyewitness to the sexual abuse of other minors. Giuffre's affidavit was included in a 2008 lawsuit that was filed on behalf of women who say they were sexually abused by Epstein; the lawsuit accused the Justice Department of violating the Crime Victims Rights Act by entering into a plea agreement with Epstein which allowed Epstein to serve jail time on state charges, but avoid federal prosecution.
In the week that followed the release of Giuffre's affidavit, Dershowitz denied the allegations and sought disbarment of the lawyers filing the suit. That same week of January 2015, Giuffre's lawyers, Bradley Edwards and Paul G. Cassell, sued Dershowitz for defamation. By early April 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra had the allegations against Dershowitz and Prince Andrew removed from the record as having no bearing on the 2008 lawsuit seeking to re-open the Epstein case. Dershowitz countersued Edwards and Cassell in 2015, and the two parties settled for an undisclosed financial sum by April 2016.
He took part in the Doha Debates at Georgetown University in April 2009, where he spoke against the motion "this House believes it's time for the US to get tough on Israel", with Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Speakers for the motion were Avraham Burg, former Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and former Speaker of the Knesset; and Michael Scheuer, former Chief of the CIA Bin Laden Issue Station. Dershowitz's side lost the debate, with 63 percent of the audience voting for the motion.
In 2011, Dershowitz served as a consultant for Julian Assange's legal team while Assange was facing the prospect of charges from the U.S. government for distributing classified documents through WikiLeaks. On his decision to engage with Assange's team, Dershowitz asserted Assange should be considered a journalist and said, "I believe that to protect the First Amendment we need to protect new electronic media vigorously."
Dershowitz is a member of the Democratic Party, but in 2016 he stated that he would cancel his party membership if Keith Ellison was appointed party chair; Tom Perez was appointed instead. Dershowitz endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election, and later endorsed the party nominee, Barack Obama. He opposed the impeachment of Bill Clinton and said that he voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Dershowitz campaigned against the election of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election and has been critical of many of his actions, including his travel ban, his rescission of protections for "Dreamers" and his failure to single out white nationalists for their provocations during protests in Charlottesville. Comparing Trump unfavorably to Hillary Clinton in October 2016, Dershowitz remarked, "I think there's no comparison between who has engaged in more corruption and who is more likely to continue that if elected President of the United States."
Dershowitz is played by Evan Handler in the 2016 television series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
In May 2018, Dershowitz joined Harvey Weinstein's legal team as a consultant for Weinstein's lawyer Benjamin Brafman. Dershowitz advised the team on obtaining documents from The Weinstein Company related to the sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein.
In January 2018, he said that Democrats attacking Trump's mental fitness was a "very dangerous" line of attack and says there is "no case" for allegations that Trump committed obstruction of justice when firing former FBI Director James Comey. He called indictment against Michael Flynn the strangest he has ever seen because Flynn lied about something that was nit illegal and said that claimed "collusion" in reference to Russian meddling in the 2016 election is not a crime. However, Dershowitz said that Trump's alleged disclosure of classified information to Russia is "the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president". He published a book in 2018, The Case Against Impeaching Trump, in which he argues against impeachment.
In June 2018, Dershowitz wrote an op-ed criticizing the American Civil Liberties Union, alleging that it had become an organization dedicated to advancing leftist policy goals and marginalizing conservatives and centrists. He wrote, "The move of the ACLU to the hard-left reflects an even more dangerous and more general trend in the United States: the right is moving further right; the left is moving father left, and the center is shrinking... The ACLU's move from the neutral protector of civil liberties to a partisan advocate of hard-left politics is both a symptom and consequence of this change."
Dershowitz had a contract to provide advice to Joey Allaham, a lobbyist working for the Qatari government. In January 2018, Dershowitz questioned claims that Qatar funds terrorist groups, including Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by several countries, including Israel, the United States, and the European Union. Dershowitz wrote that "Qatar is quickly becoming the Israel of the Gulf States, surrounded by enemies, subject to boycotts and unrealistic demands, and struggling for its survival."
In February 2019, Judge Marra ruled that prosecutors had violated the Crime Victims Rights Act. Giuffre filed a defamation lawsuit against Dershowitz, in April 2019, alleging he made "false and malicious defamatory statements" against her, such as accusing her of perjury. The lawsuit sought punitive damages and included the previous claims that Giuffre was sex trafficked to Dershowitz by Epstein. Dershowitz stated that he would "prove without any doubt that she is lying about me. She is going to end up in prison." In June 2019, he filed a motion to dismiss Giuffre's suit (which was later denied) and a motion to disqualify David Boies' firm from representing her (which was later approved). Dershowitz accused Boies of pressuring Giuffre to provide false testimony, in response to which Boies sued Dershowitz in November 2019 for defamation. Giuffre repeated her allegations on camera as part of the May 2020 Netflix series Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, by stating that Epstein had trafficked her to Dershowitz for sex at least six times. Dershowitz responded by saying he planned to sue Netflix and repeated his denial of Giuffre's account; he also accused Giuffre of selling false allegations to news outlets.
Dershowitz has appeared as himself in several fictional television series: Picket Fences, Spin City, and First Monday, and in the 2019 documentary No Safe Spaces.
In January 2020, Dershowitz joined 45th President Donald Trump's legal team as Trump was defending against impeachment charges that had proceeded to the Senate. Dershowitz's addition to the team was notable, as commentators pointed out that Dershowitz was a supporter of Hillary Clinton and had offered occasionally controversial television defenses of Trump in the preceding two years. The statement announcing Dershowitz's joining the team said that Dershowitz was "nonpartisan when it comes to the Constitution.” Dershowitz said he would not accept any compensation, and if he was paid something, he would donate it to charity. Dershowitz defended his representation of Trump, which was controversial among critics of Trump, saying "I'm there to try to defend the integrity of the constitution – that benefits President Trump in this case." Dershowitz said that his role would be limited to presenting oral arguments before the Senate opposing impeachment.
During the 2020 Democratic Party primaries, Dershowitz endorsed Joe Biden. He said: "I'm a strong supporter of Joe Biden. I like Joe Biden. I've liked him for a long time, and I could enthusiastically support Joe Biden." He criticized Bernie Sanders, saying: "I don't think under any circumstances I could vote for a man who went to England and campaigned for a bigot and anti-Semite like Jeremy Corbyn."
Currently, Alan Dershowitz is 83 years, 8 months and 25 days old. Alan Dershowitz will celebrate 84th birthday on a Thursday 1st of September 2022. Below we countdown to Alan Dershowitz upcoming birthday.