Editor's Note: The Debate is on. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Arab American Institute President James Zogby are scheduled to appear together on America's Forum on Newsmax TV on Friday at 11 a.m. to debate the escalating violence and tensions between Israel and Hamas. The apperance was scheduled after Dershowitz challenged Zogby on Newsmax TV to a public debate on the crisis in Israel. Here is that story and video:
The sharp exchange of words between Alan Dershowitz and Arab American Institute President James Zogby continued on America's Forum on Newsmax TV
on Wednesday, with the Harvard law professor challenging Zogby to debate on the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas.
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A debate, Dershowitz said, would allow the American public to determine "whether they're prepared to defend rockets attacks or whether they're prepared to defend the right of a democracy like Israel to defend itself by proportional and reasonable means."
Story continues below video.
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Dershowitz also responded to a shot made by Zogby on America's Forum
on Tuesday, when he described Dershowitz as a "great defense lawyer who defends guilty clients."
"I wish Zogby would be a little more original," Dershowitz said, noting that Zogby has been using the same "ad hominem" line about him for five years.
Dershowitz countered that Zogby — who previously stated he would not "shill for Hamas" — has to defend his clients,
Arab Americans, but should do so not "by the use of ad hominem … but on the merits."
Israel is both justified and measured in its response to rocket attacks by Hamas, Dershowitz said.
"What Israel is doing is a relatively moderate response," he said. "Not only is it a targeted attack on a Hamas military target, but they accompany it with leaflets that they drop in Arabic telephone calls, noise bombs that warn everybody to get out of the area that here is a military target a building that's being used to send rockets, it's going to be destroyed within half an hour. Get out of the building. Most people get out of the building some people choose to remain as human shields and inevitably there are going to be some civilian casualties. Hamas loves civilian casualties."
After being on the receiving end of some 300 rockets and mortars in recent weeks, Israel has launched airstrikes on at least 100 sites in the Gaza Strip in an effort to stop rocket attacks by Palestinian militants, according to Fox News
. Tensions between Hamas and Israel have escalated since the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teens, followed by a retaliation kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager who was burned to death.
Lignet analyst Lisa Ruth speculated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under increasing pressure from hawks within his party to be more aggressive with Hamas. Dershowitz disagreed, arguing that "it’s not the pressure from internal politics, it’s the pressure from Hamas. Hamas wanted this."
He recalled a recent trip to Israel where he was shown tunnels built by Hamas that run between Gaza and Israel.
"The goal of Hamas is to build as many tunnels as possible, kidnap and kill as many Israelis as possible," according to Dershowitz. "That's a long term policy. There are many of those tunnels. Israel has found only a couple of them. They're very, very difficult to find so the kidnapping of the three and the murder was a culmination of a long Hamas policy of trying to kidnap and kill Israeli civilians.
"That's coupled with a policy of sending rockets now to Jerusalem in Tel Aviv. I ask any American to ask themselves the question what would they want their government to do if rockets were raining on New York City and Miami Beach and Chicago and if some alien enemy country were building tunnels to kidnap our children from kindergarten?"
Any military action risks civilian casualties, he added, but said Hamas celebrates them.
"I call it the dead-baby strategy," he said. "They are ready to have their babies killed and held up for the news to report so as to give Israel a black eye."
The world, according to Dershowitz, must judge Israel by the same standard it would judge any democracy defending itself against rocket attacks.
"And it must judge Hamas by the same single standard of being an aggressive terrorist organization that is determined to destroy Israel's right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people."
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