A leaflet ordering Jews in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk to register with a government office is the latest salvo in a chilling history of anti-Semitism in the region — and the Obama administration has fueled the problem, renowned civil-rights attorney Alan Dershowitz says.
"I remember the Ukrainian nationalists participated actively in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust, and, of course, [in] the former Soviet Union, the Russians discriminated against Jews," Dershowitz told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"Both sides of this dispute have a problem when it comes to dealing with Jews. Whether or not this is an authentic pamphlet or a fake, they know that they can play this card and get a lot of resonance from many of the citizens. The problem is a very, very serious one," Dershowitz said.
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The flyers, distributed by masked men by the main synagogue in Donetsk, warn Jews to register and document their property or face deportation.
The longtime Harvard Law professor says the Obama administration has mishandled its treatment of Jews in the region.
"The Obama administration has complained that Israel hasn't actively supported them at the UN. Don't they realize that Israel has a responsibility first to its own people and second to the Jews of the Ukraine?'' he said. "Putting Israel in a position where they have to take sides on this dispute puts the Jewish community at tremendous risk there. You would think the Obama administration would be a little bit more sensitive to that. After all, Israel supporting the UN doesn't much matter. They don't carry any weight at the UN at all, but if Israel takes sides, it really puts at risk the lives of Ukrainian Jews. Please Obama administration, lay off."
Dershowitz, author of the memoir, "Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law,"
published by Crown, was also critical of a Democratic push for a state-by-state change to the Electoral College — in which electoral votes would go to the candidate who gets the most votes nationally.
"It certainly violates the spirit of the Constitution. Plainly the founders of the Constitution did not intend for there to be a conspiracy among certain states to essentially abolish the Electoral College," Dershowitz said.
Dershowitz said if Democrats want to do away with the presidential selection process crafted by the Founding Fathers, they should draft a Constitutional amendment.
"The amendment probably would not succeed, but to use this method of circumvention, it seems to me would encourage other states to use other methods of circumventing the Constitution when it came to racial equality or other things. I think it is quite short sighted. I do not support it."
He expects legal challenges in court, adding it is impossible to predict what the outcome will be.
"The states do have the power to determine how their electors vote but they have never before tried to do it in this manner," he said. "It's unpredictable how the courts would side [in] the case, but it's trouble."
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