Activists walked out of a lecture by Alan Dershowitz in Doha on Sunday, chanting “Zionists are not welcome here.”
Dershowitz, for decades a Harvard law professor, is one of the most prominent pro-Israel propagandists in the United States. He has a long record of justifying attacks on Palestinians, including accusing them of using their children as “human shields” so they can be killed in order to embarrass Israel.
Dershowitz has attacked President Barack Obama for refusing to veto a December 2016 UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank.
He also urged Donald Trump to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there – steps Obama’s successor in the White House took in the face of global opposition and condemnation.
Dershowitz’s lecture, titled “Law and Media,” was held at the Northwestern University Qatar campus.
The event was not publicized and was only announced through an email to students at Education City, a vast campus housing that Qatar franchises of half a dozen prestigious US universities – Northwestern, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Texas A&M and Virginia Commonwealth – and several European institutions.
Founded by former Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the multi-billion dollar Education City is operated by the Qatar Foundation.
Each year the US universities there receive hefty subsidies from the Qatari government totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
Northwestern distanced itself from the event in a follow-up email. It stated that the university “is not hosting or sponsoring the lecture by Professor Dershowitz,” but rather that it was being sponsored by the Qatar Foundation in a Northwestern University auditorium.
The university added that an email from the Qatar Foundation stated “mistakenly” that Northwestern was hosting the event.
The activist group Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalization denounced the event on Twitter and called for accountability from those responsible.
An attendee who requested anonymity told The Electronic Intifada that Qatari police in civilian clothes were present at the event, monitoring and harassing students who filmed the walk-out.
According to the attendee, Dershowitz accused students who walked out of censoring him.
When asked by a student if he believed in the protection of minorities over free speech, Dershowitz responded by saying that “in Qatar, Zionists are a minority,” and in that case he does.
Dershowitz used his presence in Qatar to push anti-Palestinian talking points he has repeated for years, including blaming Palestinians for the failure of every peace initiative. “They have never missed a chance to say no,” Dershowitz claimed.
He also asserted that Israel has killed fewer people than any other nation in the world.
Students and activists took to twitter to express their opposition to Qatar’s normalization with Israel, using the Arabic hashtag, “do not defile Qatar with normalization.”
Israel lobby in Qatar
In the email invitation, Dershowitz was introduced as a “vocal supporter of Qatar” who has been “speaking out publicly about the illegitimacy of the blockade against the country.”
After an earlier trip to Doha in January, Dershowitz sympathetically compared the wealthy emirate to Israel, as a state “surrounded by enemies, subject to boycotts and unrealistic demands, and struggling for its survival” in the face of isolation by its neighbors led by Saudi Arabia.
The Qatari government has been inviting rightwing Americans and key leaders of Israel’s Washington lobby for all-expenses-paid junkets to Doha, including Dershowitz and the head of the Zionist Organization of America Morton Klein.
Influential anti-Palestinian propagandists have returned to the US to sing Qatar’s praises.
Some have even claimed that Qatari officials promised them to suppress an undercover investigative documentary filmed by Al Jazeera, which is similar to a film that last year cast light on the underhanded activities of British groups tied to Israel.
Qatar has denied those claims.
What does the Al Jazeera documentary reveal?
On Monday, The Electronic Intifada exclusively revealed that the documentary will expose groups working covertly with Israel to spy on, smear and intimidate US citizens who support Palestinian rights.
Whether the film airs or not, there’s no doubt that Qatar’s broader PR campaign has paid off.
Leading up to his appearance, Adraee tweeted that he planned to tell “viewers in the Middle East that wherever there’s corruption and evil, we find the hands of Iran.”
- Qatar Foundation
- Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalization (QAYON)
- Alan Dershowitz
- Morton Klein
- Northwestern University in Qatar
- Israel Lobby
- Education City
- Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
- Al Jazeera
- Al Jazeera America
- Al Jazeera English
- Clayton Swisher
- Arab normalization
- Qatar normalization
- Avichay Adraee
- The Opposite Direction