Dershowitz Exposed Yet Again: The Critique of Pure Cant

December 20, 2003

In News

To deflect scrutiny of copious evidence demonstrating that his book is a hoax, Alan Dershowitz resorts to ad hominem attacks, irrelevant asides and yet new fabrications (not to mention numerous errors).  For example, in a letter to the UCLA campus newspaper, The Daily Bruin, Dershowitz stated that criticism of The Case for Israel was "part of a widespread, coordinated and well-funded campaign." He went on to allege that "similar campaigns were conducted…against numerous other writers," listing these names: "Elie Weisel" – but its Wiesel; "Burt Nuborn" – it’s Neuborne; "the Honorable Stewart Eisenstadt" – it’s Stuart Eizenstat; and "David Goldhagen" – it’s Daniel. (October 29, 2003; the editors confirmed that all the errors were his, but refused to publish my reply)  The lamentable truth is that Dershowitz hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about.

Dershowitz’s central allegation is that I falsified evidence against Wiesel in my book, The Holocaust Industry (Verso: 2000; expanded second edition 2003).  In his memoir Wiesel had written that "I read The Critique of Pure Reason – don’t laugh! – in Yiddish."  I suggested that this was most improbable since The Critique of Pure Reason was never translated into Yiddish (p. 82).   Rather, as I subsequently pointed out in a Salon interview (see this website under "The Holocaust Industry"), the only selection by Kant translated into Yiddish was a chapter on ethics from The Critique of Practical Reason.  Pretending to be a Kant aficionado, Wiesel once recalled that: "As a boy, when I went out with a girl, I would talk to her about Kant and generally never see her again" (quoted in Against Silence: The Voice and Vision of Elie Wiesel, selected and edited by Irving Abrahamson [New York, 1985], vol. iii, p. 278).  For an avowed Kant expert to confuse reading one chapter of The Critique of Practical Reason with the whole of The Critique of Pure Reason is akin to an avowed Tolstoy expert who confuses reading one chapter of Anna Karenina with the whole of War and Peace.  Although Wiesel would later claim to possess the "title page" of The Critique of Pure Reason in Yiddish (Daily Telegraph, July 31, 2000), the translation was nowhere to be found among all the major collections of Yiddish writings I consulted in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel.  Now, along comes Alan Dershowitz informing readers and audiences everywhere that, lo and behold, it’s right there in Harvard Library.  For example, he wrote this in the Harvard Crimson:

[Finkelstein] accused Wiesel of lying because Wiesel said that when he was 18 years old "I read The Critique of Pure Reason…in Yiddish."  Here is Finkelstein’s "gotcha" accusation: "The Critique of Pure Reason was never translated into Yiddish" (The Guardian, July 12, 2000).  A fairly unambiguous charge.  The only problem is that The Critique of Pure Reason was translated into Yiddish and published in Warsaw in 1929.  The Harvard Library has a copy and Wiesel did read it.  I have seen no apology from Finkelstein." (October 2, 2003;

Regrettably, the Harvard Crimson barred any reader response.  Below I post the title page of the one and only item of Kant in Yiddish (60 pages) in Harvard’s collection.  The translation reads:


from the book Critique of Practical Reason

selected by N. Shaynberg

Publisher: Etik


Case closed, except – when will Harvard finally get rid of this repellent fraud?

Norman G. Finkelstein
December 2003


Letters to the editor

Daily Bruin (UCLA)
29 October 2003

Dershowitz responds

Your readers should know that the letter from Sarah Weir (Viewpoint, Oct. 24) is part of a widespread, coordinated and well-funded campaign to attack my book, "The Case for Israel," not on its merits, but instead by raising phony issues regarding my integrity and credibility. Similar campaigns were conducted by the same zealous, anti-Israel bigots against numerous other writers such as Elie Weisel, Sir Martin Gilbert, Burt Nuborn, the Honorable Stewart Eisenstadt and David Goldhagen who were perceived as pro-Israel or favorable to justice for Jewish Holocaust survivors.

The plagiarism charge is a smoke screen and utterly without merit, as determined by several objective experts, such as the former president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The charge itself is absurd in its face. Every single quote in my book is within quotation marks. The accusation is that I cited these quotes to their original source rather than to the secondary source which the accusers claim is where I first came across the quotes. Citing original sources is the preferred form, however, according to the authoritative style manuals. Moreover, I originally found many of these quotes in other books and have been using them for years with proper attribution.

My accusers know their plagiarism accusation is totally false. Why then do they make it? The answer is clear: to intimidate other professors, especially those without tenure, from writing pro-Israel books. The message they are sending is unambiguous. Anyone writing a book favorable to Israel will be subject to false, though potentially damaging, attacks on their integrity. This form of literary McCarthyism has become a pattern that must be exposed, along with those who are employing it.

Alan Dershowitz
Professor, Harvard Law School