The Case for Israel - A New Landmark Documentary with Alan Dershowitz

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Alan M. Dershowitz

Alan M. Dershowitz
Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Alan Dershowitz has been described by Newsweek as "the nation's most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer and one of its most distinguished defenders of individual rights." The Italian newspaper Oggi reported that he is "the best-known criminal lawyer in the world," and his law practice has been called "the most fascinating on the planet." Time magazine, in addition to including him in the cover story on the "50 Faces for the Future," called him a "legal star" and "the top lawyer of last resort in the country—a sort of judicial St. Jude." Business Week described him as "a feisty civil libertarian and one of the nation's most prominent legal educators," ABC commentator Jeffrey Toobin characterized him as "a national treasure," and Floyd Abrams, the great First Amendment lawyer, called him "an international treasure." His students have praised him as "the master of the hypothetical —answer one correctly, and he's got one in his arsenal that's guaranteed to tie your tongue in knots." He has been profiled by every major magazine ranging from Life ("iconoclast and self-appointed scourge of the criminal justice system") to Esquire ("the country's most articulate and uncompromising protector of criminal defendants") to Fortune (an "impassioned civil libertarian" who has "put up the best defense for a Dickensian lineup of suspects") to People ("defense attorney extraordinaire") to New York Magazine ("one of the country's foremost appellate lawyers") to TV Guide (one of "America's top attorneys"). He has been included on lists of America's most influential and successful lawyers as well as of influential Jews. The Forward called him, “America’s most public Jewish defender” and “Israel’s single most visible defender – the Jewish state’s lead attorney in the court of public opinion.”

Dershowitz, who has been characterized as a "public intellectual par excellence," has been a pioneer in making the legal profession accessible to the general public. He was the first law professor to write regularly for the New York Times in its Week in Review, op-ed and Book Review sections. He was also the first to appear regularly on Nightline, The McNeil-Lehrer NewsHour, Firing Line, Larry King Live, Today, and Geraldo Rivera. Rivera has called him "[B]eyond a doubt… the smartest lawyer I know." Buckley has described him as a "deeply thoughtful man," "a master of the law," and "a masterful advocate."

Dershowitz is the author of 27 non-fiction works and two novels. His writing has been praised by Truman Capote, Saul Bellow, William Styron, David Mamet, Aharon Appelfeld, A.B. Yehoshua, Elie Wiesel, Richard North Patterson, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide.

Dershowitz has been interviewed by most major television and radio shows. He has been featured on the covers of several magazines, including The American Bar Association Journal, New York Magazine, The Jerusalem Report, California Lawyer and Newsday. He has also been interviewed by numerous American magazines and newspapers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, U.S News & World Report, Playboy, and Boston Magazine, as well as by the foreign news media throughout the world. He is regularly invited to write commentaries for the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and other newspapers. He has also published hundreds of articles in magazines and journals. He has written more than 1,000 op-ed articles. His essay "Shouting Fire" was selected for inclusion in The Best American Essays of 1990 and has been reprinted dozens of times, as has been an earlier essay entitled "Psychiatry in the Legal Process: A Knife that Cuts Both Ways." For two years, he hosted a radio talk show about the law, for which he received the 1996 Freedom of Speech Award from the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts.

Dershowitz's writings have been translated into French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Russian and other languages. He has also published more than 100 articles in magazines and journals such as The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Saturday Review, The Harvard Law Review and the Yale Law Journal, and more than 300 of his articles appear in syndication in 50 national daily newspapers. Professor Dershowitz is the author of a dozen fiction and non-fiction works with a worldwide audience. His most recent titles include Finding Jefferson – A Lost Letter, A Remarkable Discovery, and The First Amendment In An Age of Terrorism, Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence and Preemption: A Knife that Cuts Both Ways.

Dershowitz has been called the "winningest appellate criminal defense lawyer in history." Over the course of his 35-year career as a lawyer, Dershowitz has won more than 100 cases—a remarkable record for a part-time litigator who handles primarily criminal appeals, which generally have a very low rate of reversal. Dershowitz takes half of his cases on a pro bono basis and continues to represent numerous indigent defendants and causes. In a series of recent moot courts, he has defended Jesus (hung jury), Abraham (acquitted) and Hamen (convicted but sentence commuted to life imprisonment). In the summer of 2003, he participated in a highly praised televised mock trial of Pete Rose on ESPN. He has been a consultant to several presidential commissions and has testified before congressional committees on numerous occasions, including as a witness against President Clinton's impeachment. He has advised presidents, United Nations officials, prime ministers, governors, senators, and members of Congress as well as business leaders about legal and political issues. He has also represented and consulted with major media companies on free-speech issues. He helped obtain the largest fee in history for lawyers against the cigarette industry.

In 1983, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith presented him with the William O. Douglas First Amendment Award for his "compassionate eloquent leadership and persistent advocacy in the struggle for civil and human rights." In presenting the award, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel said: "If there had been a few people like Alan Dershowitz during the 1930s and 1940s, the history of European Jewry might have been different." Rabbi Irving Greenberg included Dershowitz, along with Wiesel, as prime examples of "modern-day rabbis" who teach Torah in a secular context. The New York Criminal Bar Association honored Dershowitz for his "outstanding contribution as a scholar and dedicated defender of human rights." The Lawyers' Club of San Francisco has honored him as a "Legend of the Law," and the Atlanta Bar Association included him in the category of legal "superstar." NBC selected Dershowitz as a participant on the American team to debate a trio of Soviet representatives on a nationally televised confrontation, and after the debate, William Buckley proposed the American team for Medals of Freedom.

Alan Dershowitz was born in Brooklyn, graduated from Yeshiva University High School and Brooklyn College. At Yale Law School, he graduated first in his class and served as editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. After clerking for Chief Judge David Bazelon and Justice Arthur Goldberg, he was appointed to the Harvard Law School faculty at age 25 and became a full professor at age 28, the youngest in the school's history. Since that time, he has taught courses in criminal law, psychiatry and law, constitutional litigation, civil liberties and violence, comparative criminal law, legal ethics, human rights, the Bible and justice, great trials, neurobiology and the law, and a collaborative philosophy course called "Thinking About Thinking."

Dershowitz has lectured throughout the country and around the world to more than a million people - from Carnegie Hall to the Kremlin. In 1979 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his work in human rights. In 1981 he was invited to China as a guest of the government to lecture and consult on their criminal code. He returned in 2001 to lecture to lawyers and law students. In 1987 he was named the John F. Kennedy-Fulbright Lecturer and toured New Zealand University lecturing about the Bill of Rights. In 1988 he served as Visiting Professor of Law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and lectured in Israel on civil liberties during times of crisis. In 1990 he was invited to Moscow to lecture on human rights, and the following year was selected as a Father of the Year and a recipient of the Golden Plate Award. At Harvard, he is currently the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, a chair established in honor of the great justice's work in constitutional law. Dershowitz has been awarded honorary degrees and medals by Yeshiva University, Syracuse University, Hebrew Union College, the University of Haifa, Monmouth College, Fitchburg College and Brooklyn College. He has been active in the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.

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