Dershowitz Silent as Harvard Becomes the Hub for Sharia


Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz circa October 15, 2003, accepting an award for his efforts to protect the separation of religion (church) and state. At this event, he stated, “…the concept of freedom from religion, is more important than any other right in the Constitution. Why? Because freedom from religion entails freedom of religion. It entails freedom of conscience, it entails freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”

Indeed. So WHY Professor Dershowitz, are you UTTERLY SILENT about the pseudo-academic movement on your own Harvard University campus to justify more widespread application of the religious totalitarianism of Islamic Sharia—including within the West—a system of religious “law” which gravely threatens our own most precious, hard-won freedoms of conscience, speech, and assembly?

Last week I discussedand brought directly to Mr. Dershowitz’s attention via e-mail—the Sharia-promoting exploits at Harvard of UCLA Law Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, and his Harvard campus “facilitator” Roy Mottahedeh.  

And today’s (March 16, 2008) Sunday New York Times Magazine contains another egregious apologetic for Sharia by Harvard’s own thrusting young pseudo-academic Noah Feldman.  

As I documented almost 5-years ago, regarding Mr. Feldman’s absurd and corrosive work, then: 

I believe his apologetics regarding the application of the Shari’a (Islamic Holy Law)- past, present, and potentially in the future- are delusional and corrosive.  

My major concerns are the following:  

(I) A completely uncritical acceptance of the most sanitized, sacralized version of “classical” Islamic history, from Muhammad’s consolidation of control over Arabia, through the extensive jihad conquests of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Feldman’s writings are disturbingly reminiscent of Professor John Esposito’s presentations, which suffer from these inappropriate biases, as lucidly described by the scholar Bat Ye’or: 1) historical negationism, consisting of suppressing or sketching in a page or a paragraph, one thousand years of jihad which is presented as a peaceful conquest, generally “welcomed” by the vanquished populations;  2) the omission of Christian and, in particular, Muslim sources describing the actual methods of these conquests, and the rule of the conquered peoples, as sanctioned by the classical jihad ideology written by numerous Muslim jurists since the 7th century: pillage, enslavement, deportation, massacres, and the imposition of dhimmitude;  3) the mythical historical conversion of “centuries” of “peaceful coexistence”, masking the processes which transformed majorities (i.e., vast Christian populations,  in particular) into minorities, constantly at risk of extinction. 

(II) Moral equivalences that range from the deliberately disingenuous, to the frankly absurd; just a few examples:     

· The contemporary Anglican Church is deemed comparable to those Shi’ite clerics (including, one must assume, Khomeini disciples) calling for the creation of an Islamic state in Iraq. 

· The application of  Halachic law in Israel is highlighted trying (most unpersuasively) to argue that the imposition of Shari’a would be no worse- an utterly absurd comparison given the truly circumscribed application of Halachic Law in Israel, relative to the far reaching repression of basic rights for all women and all non-Muslims under Shari’a law, or Shari’a-inspired law in Muslim countries, or even Muslim-dominated provinces (eg., in Northern Nigeria) that apply the Shari’a. 

· Apologism for barbaric hudud punishments (stoning to death for adultery; mutilation for theft) under the Shari’a. 

 · Non-sequitur discussion of the “limitations” of the U.S. Bill of Rights without any serious discussion of the fact that true freedom of conscience (i.e., including the right to become an atheist or change one’s faith) simply does not exist in any of the 55 countries of the Organization of Islamic States, while many are in egregious violation of its provisions. 

This warped historiography and unacceptable moral equivalence are melded in a clumsy, callow manner yielding roseate, if not downright reckless predictions about the presumed actions of so-called “Islamist-democrats”. 

Indeed, the bizarre concept of “Islamist-democrats” epitomizes the profoundly flawed premises of Feldman’s analyses. He specifically cites Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the influential Muslim Brotherhood as an example of such an “Islamist-democrat”, calling him “complex”. Again, one is reminded of John Esposito’s utterly discredited reasoning. During a January, 1998 interview – Sheikh Qaradawi stated his beliefs- using unfettered Medieval terminology- that Islamic law divided the People of the Book – Jews and Christians – into three categories: 1) non-Muslims in the lands of war; 2) non-Muslims in lands of temporary truce; 3) non-Muslims protected by Islamic law, that is to say, the dhimmis. Sheikh al-Qaradawi, made it clear that Islamic law had established different rules for each of these categories. The good Sheikh had thus summarized concisely the theory of jihad war (unfortunately ignored by Feldman, Esposito, and their ilk) which regulates the relations of Muslims with non-Muslims.  

More recently, I demonstrated the profoundly negative consequences of having empowered Mr. Feldman to help “craft” the Sharia-compliant constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan, while ignoring the prescient warnings of those like a serious scholar of Islamic Law, Joseph Schacht: 

Writing in 1955, Joseph Schacht, arguably the greatest 20th century scholar of Islamic Law, identified the still unresolved problems with modern, inchoate Islamic reform efforts. Schacht noted how, 

“The idea of religious law—the concept that law, as well as the other human relationships, must be ruled by religion—has become an essential part of the Islamic outlook. The same, incidentally, is true of politics, and even economics; it explains the recent attempt to hold an Islamic economic congress in Pakistan. Because they cannot face the problem, because they lack historical understanding of the formation of Mohammedan religious law, because they cannot make up their minds, any more than their predecessors could in the early Abbasid period [which began 750 C.E.], on what is legislation, the modernists cannot get away from a timid, halfhearted, and essentially self-contradictory position.” 

And Schacht concludes,

“The real problem poses itself at the religious and not at the technically legal level.” 

Yet despite Schacht’s observations, and the proven, concrete success of the post-World War II reforms in Japan, past intellectual honesty on Shinto has been replaced, at present, by craven, politically correct ignorance on Islam, in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Thus, as championed by a callow American pseudo-scholastic apologist for Islam’s Shari’a, who evangelized for “Islamic Democracy,” Shari’a-compliant Afghani and Iraqi constitutions were crafted (and of course extolled by this same “scholar”, here, and here).  

What a travesty that the voluble Mr. Dershowitz has thus far declined to summon his outstanding polemical skills and confront this pernicious threat to a fundamental right the good Law Professor aptly terms,  “more important than any other right in the Constitution,” emanating from his very own Harvard campus!

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at

3 responses to “Dershowitz Silent as Harvard Becomes the Hub for Sharia

  1. Yeah but how do you really feel, Andrew? I can’t tell.

    It’s good to hold that outrage. But these few are just one small target. We must figure a way for the american public to be as informed as we are, a la Pastor J Wright.

  2. In my opinion, Dershowitz is twice handicapped, as a Jew and as an American.

    Totally independent from analytical skills (nobody will accuse Dershowitz of being dim), Americans are deeply apolitical in the European meaning of the word. They are rather guided by their conscience and by what they FEEL is right or wrong then by a principle. Part of that problem is that they don’t seem to understand what is outside their own experience, or at least that is my impression. Three months in one of the lesser neighbourhoods in West Germany would teach most Americans, including Mr. Dershowitz, more about Islam than they can ever learn from books.

    The second problem is that the Jews have fallen hook line and sinker for the dishonest mantra “racism and antisemitism”, when both are totally different phenomena. They are, post Auschwitz, hell-bent on avoiding at all costs (and I mean ALL costs!) that somebody might accuse them of “racism” and thus of “doing to others what was done to themselves”. That is one of the greatest tragedies (and for once is that word not mis-applied here) of our times. Instead of flipping a world, that is either trying to kill them or watching while others kill them, the bird, they are busy proving what has turned out to be improvable for roughly 5000 years now, namely that they are really really good guys. I hope that doesn’t sound cynical, because I do not mean it to be cynical, just sad.

    I may, of course, be wrong and Dershowitz’ motives for being silent have to do with neither of the reasons above.

  3. Calamitas posted: The second problem is that the Jews have fallen hook line and sinker for the dishonest mantra ?racism and antisemitism?, when both are totally different phenomena. They are, post Auschwitz, hell-bent on avoiding at all costs (and I mean ALL costs!) that somebody might accuse them of ?racism? and thus of ?doing to others what was done to themselves?.

    This is something I used to post on LGF years ago, but had to do it gently because of the sensitive nature of the topic. One sees so many prominent Jewish intellectuals actively supporting Islamists, that it makes me wonder if they realise the threat that Islam poses to Jews as a whole. They have swallowed the ?racism and antisemitism? equivalence, and extended it to “racism and islamophobia”.

    In the UK, Jack Straw, Kauffman and others come to mind. Melanie Philips is the notable exception, but even she hesitates in advocating any policy that will avert the threat that Islam poses the West.

    As many Jews are in prominent positions in public life, their views are making the West far more vulnerable to Islam then need be.