newsU.S.-Israel Relations

‘No longer presumption I’ll vote for Biden,’ Dershowitz tells JNS

The prominent U.S. lawyer and commentator is keeping an "open mind" due to the Biden administration's Israel policies.

Professor Alan Dershowitz speaks at a conference in Tel Aviv, Dec. 11, 2016. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Professor Alan Dershowitz speaks at a conference in Tel Aviv, Dec. 11, 2016. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Alan Dershowitz plans to enter the voting booth in November with an “open mind,” the prominent lawyer and legal commentator told JNS.

Although the Harvard Law School professor emeritus is an avowed Democrat, he stated in a video on social media on Wednesday that his “red line” would be U.S. President Joe Biden cutting off ammunition and arms to Israel.

“I want President Biden to understand this clearly,” Dershowitz said in the video. “If he cuts off arms to Israel, and prevents Israel from defending itself against Hamas aggression, I promise you I will not vote for Joe Biden.”

“If you cross that red line,” he added, “I will go out and campaign and urge people not to vote for you.”

Dershowitz told JNS that Washington’s decision to abstain, rather than to veto, a ceasefire resolution at the United Nations Security Council on Monday figures particularly into his calculus.

“I would have a very hard time today voting for a ticket that contained Kamala Harris,” he told JNS of the U.S. vice president.

“I like Joe Biden. I like very much the speech he made right after Oct. 7. But I don’t like the policies he’s pursuing now,” Dershowitz said. “I don’t like the U.N. Security Council resolution, and I have an open mind.”

Harris said on Sunday that a prospective Israeli military operation in Gaza’s Rafah city would be a “huge mistake”—an assessment that senior Biden administration officials have been making for more than a month. In an interview on Sunday, Harris did not rule out the possibility that there could be consequences for Israel if it launched a major ground operation in Rafah without accounting for Palestinian civilians.

Dershowitz was more explicit about his views about the U.N. resolution during an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 on Wednesday.

“It encourages Hamas to not accept any kind of a reasonable offer of a deal for hostages and ceasefire,” he said. “It gives Hamas everything it wants without demanding realistically anything in return. It will lengthen the war. It will make it more difficult for Israel.”

“It is a terrible decision for America,” Dershowitz added. “It’s a terrible decision for Israel.”

The 85-year-old Democrat, who said he has never voted for a Republican president, was asked if he would cast a ballot for former president Donald Trump in November.

Dershowitz was noncommittal, leaving the door open for other candidates, despite having voted for Democrats since 1960.

“There is no longer a presumption that I will vote for Biden. I have an open mind. I want to see what the various candidates say about Israel, about the ongoing situation and I will make up my mind at the last minute,” he told JNS by phone during a visit to the Jewish state.

Earlier in the week, Dershowitz toured areas of the northwestern Negev devastated by Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack.

“I have an open mind on the election. My vote can not be taken for granted,” Dershowitz told JNS. He added that he is “deeply concerned” about the direction the Democratic party is taking “toward woke and away from Israel.”

He told JNS that the Jewish vote in the United States “is no longer an automatic vote.”

“The Democrats can’t just count on Jewish support anymore in my view,” he said. “They have to earn our votes and I’m open to that. I’m not giving it to them for free.”

Asked if he agreed with Trump’s statement that he “was the best president in the history of Israel,” Dershowitz said that “he’s been a very good president and he’s taken my advice on Israel.”

Dershowitz said that he advised Trump on several issues, including “the Golan Heights and Jerusalem.” Washington officially recognized the former as sovereign Israeli territory on March 25, 2019. Trump formally acknowledged the latter as Israel’s capital on Dec. 6, 2017 and subsequently moved the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

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