Alan Dershowitz Exposed: What if a Harvard Student Did This?

Editor’s note: For more documentation see Appendix I of Beyond Chutzpah. Finkelstein used Harvard’s own style manual, used to teach Harvard students, that can be obtained online here: Writing With Sources. See also: Crimson Cuts Columnist for Lifting Material (10.27.2006, The Harvard Crimson, By ANTON S. TROIANOVSKI, Crimson Staff Writer)



In the introduction to The Case for Israel, Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School asserts that his account is supported by "facts and figures, some of which will surprise those who get their information from biased sources" (p. 2).  Yet, the evidence Dershowitz adduces will surprise no one familiar with the most notorious source of historical bias on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ever published in the English language.  The charts below document Dershowitz’s wholesale lifting of source material from Joan Peters’s monumental hoax, From Time Immemorial.  Dershowitz not only copies Peters shamelessly, but knowingly does so from a book serious scholars have uniformly condemned.  (For details on the Peters hoax, see Norman G. Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and Yehoshua Porath, "Mrs. Peters’s Palestine," The New York Review of Books, 16 January 1986.)  He is effectively no different from a professor lifting sources wholesale from a leading Holocaust revisionist in a book on the Holocaust.  On a note both humorous and pathetic, Peters, in From Time Immemorial and claiming to be inspired by George Orwell, coins the term "turnspeak" to signal the inversion of reality (pp. 173, 402).  Dershowitz, apparently confounded by his massive borrowings from Peters, credits the term "turnspeak" to Orwell [1], accusing critics of Israel of "deliberately using George Orwell’s ‘turnspeak’" (p. 57) and "Orwellian turnspeak" (p. 153).  Is this scandalous scholarship, or is it plagiarism, or is it both?

Norman G. Finkelstein

1. Changed from “turnspeak” to “newspeak” on Amazon Online Reader* in 2007 because the Online Reader displays only the later paperback edition; see original hardcover 2003 edition & debate.

* Amazon has since corrected this and added the original hard cover edition back to Online Reader with ‘George Orwell’s “turnspeak”‘ and ‘Orwellian turnspeak’ alongside the revised paperback edition (October 2007).


In the sixteenth century, according to british reports, "as many as 15,000 jews" lived in safad, which was a "center of rabbinical learning." (p. 17)

source cited: palestine royal commission report, pp. 11-12.


safad at that time, according to the british investigation by lord peel’s committee, "contained as many as 15,000 jews in the 16th century," and was "a centre of rabbinical learning." (p. 178)

source cited: palestine royal commission report, pp. 11-12.



[a]ccording to the british consul in jerusalem, the muslims of jerusalem "scarcely exceed[ed] one quarter of the whole population." (p. 17)

source cited: james finn to earl of clarendon, january 1, 1858.



in 1858 consul finn reported the "mohammedans of jerusalem" were "scarcely exceeding one-quarter of the whole population." (p. 197)

source cited: james finn to earl of clarendon, january 1, 1858.



by the middle of the nineteenth century […] jews also constituted a significant presence, often a plurality or majority, in safad, tiberias, and several other cities and towns. (p. 17)

source cited: james finn to viscount palmerston, november 7, 1851.



meanwhile, the jewish population had been growing.  they were the majority in safed and tiberias by 1851. (p. 199)

source cited: james finn to viscount palmerston, november 7, 1851.



in 1834, jewish homes in jerusalem "were sacked and their women violated." (p. 18)

source cited: jacob de haas, history of palestine (new york: 1934), p. 393.



[i]n 1834, […] "forty thousand fellahin rushed on jerusalem…the jews were the worst sufferers, their homes were sacked and their women violated." (p. 183)

source cited: jacob de haas, history of palestine (new york: 1934), p. 393.                                                    



the british consul, william young, in a report to the british foreign office […] painted a vivid and chilling picture of the life of the jews in jerusalem in 1839: "i think it is my duty to inform you that there has been a proclamation issued this week by the government in the jewish quarter – that no jew is to be permitted to pray in his own house under pain of being severely punished – such as want to pray are to go into the synagogue…  there has also been a punishment inflicted on a jew and jewess – most revolting to human nature, which i think it is my duty to relate.  in the early part of this week, a house was entered in the jewish quarter, and a robbery was committed – the house was in quarantine – and the guardian was a jew – he was taken before the governor – he denied having any knowledge of the thief or the circumstances.  in order to compel him to confess, he was laid down and beaten, and afterwards imprisoned.  the following day he was again brought before the governor, when he still declared his innocence.  he was then burned with a hot iron over his face, and various parts of the body – and beaten on the lower parts of his body to the extent that the flesh hung in pieces from him the following day the poor creature died.  he was a young jew of salonica about 28 years of age – who had been here but a very short time, he had only the week before been applying to enter my service.  a young man – a jew – having a french passport was also suspected – he fled – his character was known to be an indifferent one – his mother, an aged woman, was taken under suspicion of concealing her son – she was tied up and beaten in the most brutal way….  i must say i am sorry and am surprised that the governor could have acted so savage a part – for certainly what i have seen of him, i should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity – but it was a jew – without friends or protection – it serves well to show, that it is not without reason that the poor jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life." (p. 18)

source cited: wm. t. young to colonel patrick campbell, may 25, 1839.



in may 1839, for instance, the complaints registered with the british foreign office by consul young in jerusalem were appalling.  in one day, in one report: "i think it is my duty to inform you that there has been a proclamation issued this week by the government in the jewish quarter – that no jew is to be permitted to pray in his own house under pain of being severely punished – such as want to pray are to go into the synagogue…  there has also been a punishment inflicted on a jew and jewess – most revolting to human nature, which i think it is my duty to relate – in the early part of this week, a house was entered in the jewish quarter, and a robbery was committed – the house was in quarantine – and the guardian was a jew – he was taken before the governor – he denied having any knowledge of the thief or the circumstances.  in order to compell him to confess, he was laid down and beaten, and afterwards imprisoned.  the following day he was again brought before the governor, when he still declared his innocence.  he was then burned with a hot iron over his face, and various parts of the body – and beaten on the lower parts of his body to that extent that the flesh hung in pieces from him.  the following day the poor creature died.  he was a young jew of salonica about 28 years of age – who had been here but a very short time, he had only the week before been applying to enter my service.  a young man – a jew – having a french passport was also suspected – he fled – his character was known to be an indifferent one – his mother, an aged woman, was taken under suspicion of concealing her son – she was tied up and beaten in the most brutal way…. i must say i am sorry and am surprised that the governor could have acted so savage a part – for certainly what i have seen of him, i should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity – but it was a jew – without friends or protection – it serves well to show, that it is not without reason that the poor jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life." (p. 184)   

source cited: wm. t. young to colonel patrick campbell, may 25, 1839.



nor could the jew seek redress, as the report observed: "like the miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by one because he crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries out – to seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint being revenged upon him." (p. 20)

source cited: wm. t. young to viscount palmerston, may 25, 1839.



[t]he life for jews described in 1839 by british consul young: "[…] like the miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by one because he crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries out – to seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint being revenged upon him." (p. 187)
source cited: wm. t. young to viscount palmerston, may 25, 1839.


several years later, the same consul attributed the plight of the jew in jerusalem to "the blind hatred and ignorant prejudice of a fanatical populace," coupled with an inability of the poverty-stricken jewish community to defend itself either politically or physically. (p. 20)

source cited: wm. t. young to viscount canning, january 13, 1842.



in palestine, [it] was reported: "it is a fact that the jewish subjects…do not enjoy the privileges granted to them….this evil may in general be traced …: i. to the absence of an adequate protection whereby they are more exposed to cruel and tyrannical treatment. ii. to the blind hatred and ignorant prejudices of a fanatical populace….iv.  to the starving state of numerous jewish population." (p. 188; peters’s emphasis)
source cited: wm. t. young to viscount canning, january 13, 1842.


mark twain, who visited palestine in 1867, offered this description: "stirring scenes . . . occur in the valley [jezreel] no more.  there is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent – not for thirty miles in either direction.  there are two or three small clusters of bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation.  one may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. . . . come to galilee for that . . . these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of capernaum: this stupid village of tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms. . . . we reached tabor safely. . . .we never saw a human being on the whole route.  nazareth is forlorn. . . . jericho the accursed lies in a moldering ruin today, even as joshua’s miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; bethlehem and bethany, in their poverty and their humiliations, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the savior’s presence, the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang, `peace on earth, good will to men,’ is untenanted by any living creature. . . . bethsaida and  chorzin have vanished from the earth, and the `desert places’ round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the savior’s voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes." (pp. 23-4)

source cited: mark twain, the innocents abroad (new york: 1996), pp. 349, 366, 375, 441-442.



mark twain […] visited the holy land in 1867.  in one location after another, twain registered gloom at his findings: "stirring scenes . . . occur in the valley [jezreel] no more.  there is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent – not for thirty miles in either direction.  there are two or three small clusters of bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation.  one may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. […]  come to galilee for that . . . these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of capernaum: this stupid village of tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms. . . . we reached tabor safely. . . .we never saw a human being on the whole route.  nazareth is forlorn. . . . jericho the accursed lies in a moldering ruin today, even as joshua’s miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; bethlehem and bethany, in their poverty and their humiliations, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the savior’s presence, the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang, `peace on earth, good will to men,’ is untenanted by any living creature. . . . bethsaida and  chorzin have vanished from the earth, and the `desert places’ round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the savior’s voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes." (pp. 159-60)

source cited: mark twain, the innocents abroad (london: 1881), pp.  349, 366, 375, 441-442.



a christian historian has reported that several villages throughout palestine "are populated wholly by settlers from other portions of the turkish empire within the nineteenth century.  there are villages of bosnians, druzes, circassians and egyptians." (p. 26)

source cited: james parkes, whose land?, p. 212.



"in some cases villages [in palestine] are populated wholly by settlers from other portions of the turkish empire within the nineteenth century.  there are villages of bosnians, druzes, circassians and egyptians," one historian has reported. (p. 156)

source cited: james parkes, whose land?, p. 212.  



the 1911 edition of encyclopaedia britannica described the population of palestine as comprising widely differing "ethnological" groups speaking "no less than fifty languages."  it was daunting therefore to "write concisely" about "the ethnology of palestine," especially following the influx of population from egypt "which still persists in the villages."  in addition to arabs and jews, the other ethnic groups in palestine at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century included kurds, german templars, persians, sudanese, algerians, samaritans, tatars, georgians, and many people of mixed ethnicities.  (p. 26)

source cited: no volume or page number cited.



another source, the encyclopaedia britannica, 1911 edition […] finds the "population" of palestine composed of so "widely differing" a group of  "inhabitants" – whose "ethnological affinities" create "early in the 20th century a list of no less than fifty languages" – that "it is therefore no easy task to write concisely . . . on the ethnology of palestine."  in addition to the "assyrian, persian and roman" elements of ancient times, "the short-lived egyptian government introduced into the population an element from that country which still persists in the villages."… "there are […] persians […] kurds…german `templar’ colonies […], a large algerian element   […] sudanese, […] the samaritan sect." (pp.  156-7)

source cited: encyclopaedia britannica, 11th ed., vol. xx, p. 604.



an 1857 communiqué from the british consul in jerusalem reported that "the country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population." (p. 26)

source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.



the british consul in palestine reported in 1857 that "the country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population." (p. 159)

source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.



it also noted that although the arabs tended to leave and not return, the jewish population was more stable: "[w]e have jews who have traveled to the united states and australia," and "instead of remaining there, do return hither." (p. 26)

source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.



finn wrote further that "[…] we have jews here , who have been to the united states, but have returned  to their holy land – jews of jerusalem do go to australia and instead of remaining there, do return hither." (p. 485)

source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.



four years later, it was reported that "depopulation is even now advancing." (p. 26)

source cited: j.b. forsyth, a few months in the east (quebec: 1861), p. 188.



in the 1860s, it was reported that "depopulation is even now advancing." (p. 159)

source cited: j.b. forsyth, a few months in the east (quebec: 1861), p. 188.



and four years after that, it was noted that in certain parts of the country "land is going out of cultivation and whole villages are rapidly disappearing . . . and the stationery population extirpated." (p. 26)

source cited: h.b. tristram, the land of israel: a journal of travels in palestine (london: 1865), p. 490.



h.b. tristam noted in his journal that "the north and south [of the sharon plain] land is going out of cultivation and whole villages are rapidly disappearing […] and the stationery population extirpated." (p. 159)

source cited: h.b. tristram, the land of israel: a journal of travels in palestine (london: 1865), p. 490.



other historians, demographers, and travelers described the arab population as "decreasing," and the land as "thinly populated," "unoccupied," "uninhabited," and  "almost abandoned now." (pp. 26-7)

sources cited:
samuel bartlett, from egypt to palestine (new york: 1879), p. 409.  cited in fred gottheil, "the population of palestine, circa 1875," middle eastern studies, vol. 15, no. 3, october 1979.
edward wilson, in scripture lands (new york: 1890) p. 316.  cited in gottheil
w. allen, the dead sea: a new route to india (london: 1855), p. 113.  cited in gottheil.
william thomson, the land and the book (new york: 1871), p. 466.  cited in gottheil.



report followed depressing report, as the economist-historian professor fred gottheil pointed out: […] "wretched desolation and neglect"; "almost abandoned now"; "unoccupied"; "uninhabited"; "thinly populated." (p. 160)

sources cited:
s.c. bartlett, from egypt to palestine (new york: 1879), p. 409. cited in fred gottheil, "the population of palestine, circa 1875," middle eastern studies, vol. 15, no. 3, october 1979.
w. allen, the dead sea: a new route to india (london: 1855), p. 113.  cited in ibid.
w.m. thomson, the land and the book (new york: 1862), p. 466.  cited in ibid.
e.l. wilson in scripture lands (new york: n.d.), p. 316.  cited in ibid.



the plain of sharon […] was described by reverend samuel manning in 1874 as a "land without inhabitants" that "might support an immense population." (p. 27)

source cited: reverend samuel manning, those holy fields (london: 1874), pp. 14-17.



many writers, such as the reverend samuel manning, mourned the atrophy of the coastal plain, the sharon plain […]: "this fertile plain, which might support an immense population, is […] `the land […] without inhabitants’." (p. 160)

source cited: reverend samuel manning, those holy fields (london: 1874), pp. 14-17.



j.l. burkhardt [sic] reported that as early as in the second decade of the nineteenth century, "few individuals…die in the same village in which they were born.  families are continually moving from one place to another…in a few years…they fly to some other place, where they have heard that their brethren are better treated." (p. 27)

source cited:  john lewis burckhardt, travels in syria and the holy land (new york: 1983), p. 299.



john lewis burckhardt graphically described the migratory patterns he found in the early 1800s:  "[…] few individuals…die in the same village in which they were born.  families are continually moving from one place to another […] in a few years […] they fly to some other place, where they have heard that their brethren are better treated." (p. 163)

source cited: john lewis burckhardt, travels in syria and the holy land (london: 1882), p. 299.



a study of the jewish settlement of rishon l’tzion, first established in 1882, showed that the 40 jewish families that settled there had attracted "more than 400 arab families," many of which were bedouin and egyptian.  these families moved into areas around the jewish settlement and formed a new arab village on the site of  "a forsaken ruin."  the report observed a similar pattern with regard to other settlements and villages. (p. 27)

source cited: a. druyanov, ketavim letoldot hibbat ziyyon ve-yishshuv erez yisra’el (writings on the history of the hibbat ziyyon and the settlement of the land of israel) (odessa, tel aviv, 1919, 1925, 1932), vol. 3, pp. 66-67.



[i]n the jewish settlement rishon l’tsion (founded in 1882), by the year 1889 the "forty jewish families" settled there had attracted "more than four hundred arab families," most of them "bedouin and egyptian."  they had come to "surround the moshava" (settlement) in a "now-thriving village" that, before the founding of rishon l’tsion, had been sarafand – "a forsaken ruin."  the report from rishon pointed out that many other arab villages had sprouted in the same fashion. (pp. 252-3)

source cited: a. druyanov, ketavim letoldoth hibbat ziyyon ve-yishshuv erez yisra’el) (odessa, tel aviv, 1919, 1925, 1932), vol. 3, pp. 66-67.



according to one historian, "at least 25% of [the muslims who lived in all of palestine in 1882] were newcomers or descendants of those who arrived after [the egyptian conquest of 1831]." (p. 28)

source cited: ernst frankenstein, justice for my people (london: 1943), p. 127.



one historian deduced that of 141,000 settled muslims living in all of palestine (all areas) in 1882, "at least 25% of those 141,000…were newcomers or descendants of those who arrived after 1831 (egyptian conquest)." (pp. 196-7)

source cited: ernst frankenstein, justice for my people (london: 1943), p. 127.



a british official reported in 1937 that "the growth in [the numbers of arab fellahin] had been largely due to the health services combating malaria, reducing infant death rates, improving water supply and sanitation." (p. 28)

source cited: report to his britannic majesty’s government to the council of the league of nations on the administration of palestine and trans-jordan for the year 1937, colonial no. 146, pp. 223-224.



an official 1937 report found that "the growth in their numbers [arab fellahin-peasants] has been largely due to the health services, combating malaria, reducing the infant deathrate, improving water supply and sanitation." (pp. 223-4)

source cited: report to his britannic majesty’s government to the council of the league of nations on the administration of palestine and trans-jordan for the year 1937, colonial no. 146, pp. 223-224.