Who is Alan Dershowitz and why is he coming to campus?

Alan Dershowitz (left) and Jimmy Wales meet at Yale University as the audience for Wales' just-finished talk leaves and the crowd for Dershowitz's soon-to-begin talk gathers on Oct. 8, 2009. Photo credit: Sage Ross, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Harvard Law professor and strong supporter of Israel Alan Dershowitz is coming to the University of Miami Campus just a month after his name was featured on the Jeffrey Epstein List – and some students are not happy about it.

Students Supporting Israel announced that they would be hosting Dershowitz on Feb. 7, 2024, for “A Conversation about Israel” last week. In the days since, students have spoken out against his presence on campus with a widespread social media campaign citing his past affiliation with known pedophile Epstein and his Los Angeles Times 1997 op-ed that supported the lowering of the age of sexual consent to 15.

“Pedophiles and victim blamers are not welcome on campus,” an Instagram post by @canesforpalestine, an unofficial student group “advocating for Palestinian liberation”, with over 70 comments said. Dershowitz has not been charged of pedophilia.

Dershowitz is most prominently known as a high-profile criminal lawyer and author of over 30 books. He has defended O.J. Simpson, President Donald Trump and was the longtime lawyer and friend of Epstein, whom he earned a non-prosecution agreement for in his initial 2008 plea agreement in the South Florida District.

He has gained further attention with the ongoing Israel-Gaza War for his active advocacy and defense of Israel. Dershowitz has authored several books on Israel’s legitimacy in the region, including his 2003 New York Times bestseller, “A Case for Israel.” It was also rumored that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought him out as a candidate to represent Israel in South Africa’s 2024 International Court of Justice case against the country.

Most recently however, Dershowitz was included in the unsealed Epstein List among more than 150 other names – including Bill Gates and Bill Clinton. The list included accusations of an underage woman, referred to as Jane Doe #3, being required to have sex with Dershowitz and testimonies that he frequently visited Epstein’s Florida mansion. Dershowitz forcefully denies these claims in a 31-minute video and has not faced any criminal charges of sexual misconduct.

“When I found out who he was, I was disgusted. Regardless of his legal career, the accusations and views on rape are gut wrenching and vile,” senior chemistry major Ainsley Hilliard said.

Dershowitz’s connection to Epstein also played out in a 2019 case brought against Dershowitz by Virginia Giuffre, a trafficking victim of Epstein, on claims of sexual assault. The allegations were later dropped in 2019 by Giuffre who stated, “I now recognize I may have made a mistake in identifying Mr. Dershowitz.”

SSI has continued to promote the conversation with Dershowitz on their Instagram, referring to Dershowitz as a “world renowned lawyer,” despite negative feedback from some students.

Students have expressed not only their frustration with SSI but with UM for approving him to speak on campus.

“While I understand people come with controversy, there has to be a line somewhere. Do we really want to listen to an accused rapist who is obsessed with false accusations, age of consent and purposefully controversial cases?” Hilliard said.

“We can bring better speakers to campus.”

UM did not comment on the matter, however, the UM Student Organization Handbook states that UM “is committed to providing a forum for free and open expression of divergent points of view by Campus speakers.”

The policy continues to state that UM has the “sole discretion” to deny a speaker if they are “deemed inconsistent with the values and mission of the University.” Without a conviction however, there are few barriers stopping Dershowitz from visiting campus.

SSI representatives did not respond to The Miami Hurricane’s repeated requests for comment about the event.

The event will be held at 8 p.m. in the Shalala Student Center East Ballroom on Feb. 7.. Students are encouraged to RSVP.

This article was edited to state “testimonies that he frequently visited Epstein’s Florida mansion” from “testimonies that he frequently visited Epstein’s private island” and to add “Dershowitz forcefully denies these claims in a 31-minute video and has not faced any criminal charges of sexual misconduct” for clarity.