Rennert Hall was filled to the brim for last night’s lecture by Alan Dershowitz, famed Harvard Law professor, criminal attorney and author of The Case for Israel, an ardent defense of the state of Israel’s right to exist. The Kraft Center auditorium was so packed, people had to be turned away! Luckily, Bwog’s Briana Last scored a seat.
“Our collective antenna went up,” Michael P. Lustig, Co-President of the Hillel Board of Directors, explained his reaction to the news that Noam Chomsky was coming to speak at Columbia. “But, unfortunately [Chomsky] wasn’t speaking within his area of expertise, linguistics,” Lustig added, “he was speaking on the topic of America and Israel/Palestine.” So for the sake of “countering the makings of a potentially ugly situation,” LionPAC, Columbia University’s pro-Israel public affairs committee, decided to invite Dershowitz, “Israel’s single most visible defender,” to share his view. Flyers for the Dershowitz event even mimicked those for Chomsky to communicate that there was another side to Chomsky’s perspective.
“I was a little uncomfortable being asked simply to come here as the result of Chomsky being invited,” Dershowitz admitted. “But, then I thought about it. It’s the right response. I would have much rather debated Chomsky. I have debated in every decade since 1970. But not this one.” Dershowitz urged everyone to go Chomsky’s talk on October 17th to “ask him hard questions and to check his facts.” If Dershowitz couldn’t challenge Chomsky in person, at least they could have a “virtual debate.”
Regardless of the reason behind his invitation, Dershowitz seemed pleased to be here. “Thank you for welcoming me to Columbia. Columbia hasn’t always been so welcome to me.” he joked. “In 1955, I was put on the waitlist and I didn’t make it off the waitlist and went to Brooklyn College.” (more…)