Alan Dershowitz Goes After Greenwald, Calls Him "Criminal" and "Phony"


Noted attorney and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz lashed out at Glenn Greenwald, who broke the NSA/Edward Snowden story, on CNN last night, calling him a "phony" and accusing him of hating America. On Piers Morgan Tonight, Dershowitz said Greenwald's actions in the PRISM story are in "the heartland of criminality." He goes on to note that "the statute itself does punish the publication of classified material," and said that Greenwald had therefore committed a felony. It seemed he could hardly contain his dislike for the man, and despite his host's attempts to redirect him, Dershowitz called Greenwald "a total phony," "anti-American, and claimed "he hates America" and "loves tyrannical regimes."  In an earlier CNN appearance, he also said that there were "a lot of lies from Greenwald" and that "people like Greenwald tend to foment the paranoid streak in American life."

This would appear to go beyond a debate over law. Greenwald seems to have really gotten under Dershowitz’s skin.  The root of this animus may go back to a public spat the two had over right of a group to speak at Brooklyn College (Dershowitz’s alma mater) last February. The group, known as "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions," (B.D.S.) advocates for Israel's withdrawal from the Palestinian territories. Two B.D.S. representatives were scheduled to speak at an event cosponsored by the school’s political science department. Dershowitz, long a vocal supporter of Israel, publicly criticized the university for allowing the event and also for not allowing him or another pro-Israel representative to give a rebuttal. Local politicians were drawn into the fray, and there were cries of "foul" from all corners: anti-Semitism, suppression of academic freedom, hate-mongering, etc. Greenwald weighed in with several columns for the Guardian in which he criticized what he saw as an attack on the college's academic freedom and Dershowitz’s role in it. 

The event went ahead as planned, but seems to have left some hard feelings. Perhaps it was inevitable given the two men's histories and views. Alan Dershowitz has long been an outspoken and aggressive supporter of Israel, and is not shy about going after those who criticize it, including most famously Israel critic Norman Finklestein, who in 2007 was denied tenure at DePaul University after a successful petition by Dershowitz. Greenwald, on the other hand, has long been a strident critic of the U.S. government's actions in the Middle East and of Israeli "aggression" in Gaza. It's almost natural that these two men would be enemies. An email exchange between the two men makes clear their mutual disdain for each other.