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Guilt by Accusation: Alan Dershowitz and Maria Farmer
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Alan Dershowitz. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Sage Ross

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Alan Dershowitz, in Guilt by Accusation, writes, referring to accusations concerning his alleged sexual misconduct,

“Evidence was no longer important. It was the accusation that mattered, as well as the identities of the accuser and accused. The presumption shifted from innocence to guilt. For a man to call a false accuser a liar became a political sin, even if the accused had hard evidence of the accuser’s lies, as I did.”

The main purpose of his short book is to dent the credibility of Virginia Roberts Giuffre who, as well as being a leading witness against Dershowitz’s friend and former client Jeffrey Epstein, has claimed that the latter trafficked her for sex with Mr Dershowitz.

Now that Jeffrey Epstein is dead and Ghislaine Maxwell has been arrested and charged we can only hope that the courts get to the bottom of the matter and find out what actually did or did not happen.

However, Mr Dershowitz, as well as writing his case-for-the-defence in relation to Virginia Giuffre, has also expended effort to discredit another person who has made accusations damaging to him. That person is Maria Farmer, who worked for Epstein and whose allegations against him and others are recounted in the Netflix documentary Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich.

Although Farmer does not claim to have been abused by Dershowitz, she does state in an affidavit that she saw Dershowitz on a number of occasions at Epstein’s New York mansion where she worked, “going upstairs at the same time there were young girls under the age of 18 who were present upstairs in the house.” Dershowitz vigorously denies that this was even possible, saying that he only met Epstein “well after she [Farmer] stopped working for him”. According to Dershowitz, Farmer stopped working for Epstein in the “early summer of 1996” with Dershowitz only meeting Epstein for the first time, via Lynn Forester (Lady d’Rothschild), in the summer of 1996. However, Farmer claims in an interview with the journalist Whitney Webb that Dershowitz met Epstein years before he claims, via Bert Fields, the husband of Barbara Guggenheim.

Curiously Dershowitz, in his recent article aiming to discredit Farmer, does not mention the one time he is referred to by name in Webb’s lengthy phone interview. Instead, he sets out to depict Farmer as someone who may have“been motivated by the anti-Semitic attitudes she has long harboured, to falsely accuse prominent Jews of sexual misconduct.”

It is this suggestion and others made in the article that I want to examine here. Note that Farmer’s claims about Dershowitz are in fact relatively mild and hardly the high-coloured stuff we might expect of an anti-Semitic liar; indeed, Dershowitz’s reference to “prominent Jews” in the plural may suggest that he is attempting to undermine Farmer’s claims about Epstein, Maxwell and perhaps others, rather than just himself.

The claims that Dershowitz makes about Farmer’s alleged anti-Semitism are a large part of the ‘evidence’ he brings forward to undermine the testimonial authority that Farmer claims to have as an alleged victim of Epstein. If Farmer can be shown to be a raving anti-Semite with a vicious attitude towards Jewish people, then her testimony becomes more questionable both in the eyes of the public and in the eyes of judges.

Dershowitz, referring to Farmer’s interview with Webb (which is available on Youtube in two parts here and here makes the following claims in his NewsMax article entitled Key Witness in Epstein Case Made Anti-Semitic Claims

Dershowitz opens the article by citing, in quotation marks, six statements that he asserts Farmer uttered in the course of the interview.

Here they are:

  • “I had a hard time with all Jewish people.”
  • “I think it’s all the Jews.”
  • “They think Jewish DNA is better than the rest of us.”
  • “These people truly believe they are chosen every one of them.”
  • “All the Jewish people I met are pedophiles that run the world economy.”
  • “They are ‘Jewish supremacists'” and they are “all connected” through a mysterious organization called MEGA, which is run by Leslie Wexner who is “the head of the snake.”

Most readers, on seeing these statements, would conclude that whoever uttered them was someone with very bigoted attitudes towards Jews in general and prone to the kind of conspiratorial thinking that takes hold in the minds of people with paranoid tendencies.

What happens if we actually listen to the interview, to which Dershowitz provided no link or reference? As there is no transcript of the interview I have transcribed the relevant sections of it myself, together with timings so that readers can check for accuracy.

Exhibit 1

“They think Jewish DNA is better than the rest of us.”

This is cited by Dershowitz as an example of the“bigotry Maria Farmer spewed during a recorded two-hour interview that can be heard online.”

What Farmer actually said, in the relevant section of the interview (and the only time she mentioned DNA) is as follows:

14.09-14.41 DNA

“When I called Ghislaine [Maxwell] and asked why I couldn’t eat there [at a private and exclusive country club] she said “it’s a Jewish country club, you’re not Jewish, they’re not going to serve you.” This is how this woman spoke to me, yeah. This is how these people think Whitney. They, honest to God, think their DNA is better than everybody else’s, I swear to you. It was a theme all the time with them. With Eileen Guggenheim, with Jeffrey Epstein, with Ghislaine. It was a theme.”

It is quite clear from the context that Farmer, when she says “They”, is referring to the set of people she mentions and not all Jewish people. Yet Dershowitz, by stripping away the context of the quotation, leads the reader to assume that “They” is a universal ascription of certain views to Jews in general of the kind that might be made by a genuinely bigoted person.

Exhibit 2

“I had a hard time with all Jewish people.”

“I think it’s all the Jews”.

“All the Jewish people I met are pedophiles that run the world economy.”

The context of these quotations can be seen below.

“1hr 24.05 “I was actually glad I was in hiding in obscure hillbilly town. Like I’ve had to live in horrible places full of ignorant hillbillies and it was a relief because they weren’t elites, you know. It was just, it’s, for a long time I had a hard time with all Jewish people, I’m gonna be honest with you. For a long time I was like, I think it’s all the Jews. Like I don’t know, because my sister is like, “Maria, it’s just the ones you met, it’s these people.” It’s just unfortunate that all the Jewish people I met also happen to be pedophiles that run the world economy, you know. So it gives like a bad taste in your mouth. But David Icke has kind of helped me with that. I kind of understand it better now, but like er that looks hard. You know, they did a number on all of us. We’ve all had a hard time with, like, a lot of it because of the abuse, you know. So it’s hard to not then go, all these people are like this when it’s not true, not all of them, just a huge chunk of elites are like this.”

The first thing to notice here is that Dershowitz removes the words “For a long time” from both the first and second quotes. Had he kept the phrase in, this might have led readers to ask what Maria Farmer’s evolving attitudes were and whether she has distanced herself or is in the process of doing so from previous attitudes. Compare how you might react on hearing that someone had said, “For a long time, I thought, black people are inferior”, as opposed to hearing the person had simply said “black people are inferior”.

Farmer explicitly distances herself from a bigoted stance towards “all Jewish people” seeing herself as trying to recover from such an attitude. In this context, she refers to the advice of her sister and, alarmingly, that of David Icke who certainly has trafficked in wild conspiracy theories concerning lizards and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Not the best choice for a guide, to put it mildly, and a worrying sign of Farmer’s naivete – but the point here is that she is actively resisting a tendency to bigotry she presents as arising from her traumatic experiences.

Again she refers to the specific people she came across in the Epstein set, who she claims are powerful pedophiles that run the world economy. And she suggests that as a result of the abuse she says she suffered at the hands of people within this elite set, she developed an attitude towards Jews that was bigoted and which she is trying to resist. She does not deny that she has sometimes blurred the line between Jews generally and the arrogant criminal conduct of the elite set, but it must be recalled that she was a young woman at the time of the alleged abuse and has since struggled with her prejudice, hoping to overcome it.

It is hardly unusual for abuse victims to develop negative and irrational attitudes to groups of people who share features with their abusers. Female rape victims not uncommonly struggle not to have negative attitudes to all men, or to all men who share certain physical characteristics with the men who raped them. Very often such victims know that such attitudes are irrational and struggle with them. Or think of the attitudes to ‘all Germans’ of some Holocaust victims, or to ‘the Japanese’ of British prisoners of the Japanese in World War II, or of the attitudes of Jewish and Palestinian victims of Palestinian and Israeli terrorism to those they identify with the terrorists. To quote Maria Farmer in a way that deliberately suppresses her struggles with past attitudes and depict her as a straightforward bigot to be excoriated is to suppress the voice of someone who may simply be trying to recover from damage inflicted upon her.

Exhibit 3

“These people truly believe they are chosen every one of them.”

Maria Farmer does not actually say what Dershowitz has her saying (by combining two clauses in different sentences). Again, “every one of them” clearly refers to a specific group, the Epstein set.

1hr 32.04-1hr 32.47

“You wouldn’t believe the way Jeffrey and Ghislaine spoke about African-Americans. It was like, it made my skin crawl. Anybody who was not Jewish, and you should write about this, but the way they spoke about them, it was really horrifying and it showed me a great deal about how these people truly believe that they are chosen to do something here. I don’t know, it’s unbelievable to me. I mean, and it was every one of them, the way they spoke. And one time I heard Isabelle say to her mother Eileen [Guggenheim] “Mommy, why do you call Maria a nobody” and she said “Honey, Isabelle, Maria is not a Jew, she is a nobody. So you can see why, for about 20 years…”

Exhibit 4

“They are “Jewish Supremacists”

1hr 33.45-1hr34.04

“This is a problem, this elitism is very deep and these are the people pushing racism, these are the people saying, pushing white, saying there is White Supremacy, which maybe there is in some ignorant Southern hillbilly groups, but I don’t know any White Supremacists but I know a lot of Jewish Supremacists they’re all elites and they are all connected. And they are the biggest Supremacists I have ever met. And the things they said about Black people made me cry. Honest to God. It made me sick.”

Note that Dershowitz completely misquotes Farmer here and again, by stripping the quotation of context leads his readers to assume that “They” refers to all Jews, rather than Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and their set. Presumably for Dershowitz, someone condemning White Supremacists they had met, and referring to that particular group as ‘they’, could be condemned as having a bigoted attitude to all white people – even if they said in the same interview that they know this isn’t about white people as a group.

It is worth now quoting Farmer at length to gain an insight into the levels of dishonesty Dershowitz is to employ.


34.19 – 37.27

“So Jeffrey and Ghislaine they were at the estate, they came like three times to visit Wexner while I was there. And they would go meet with him and then they would come back. And Ghislaine said they were working on all these Israeli charities for students and for,you know,Jewish people. And I remember thinking, oh that’s weird. And she was like, she was like “you don’t understand our loyalty to Israel, Maria. You don’t understand our loyalty.” She’s like, “unless you’re a dual citizen you just don’t get it”. She’s like “your people could never understand.” She would say “My people, your people, The Chosen Ones”, all that bullshit. And I’m just like…Let me tell you something, if I walk out of here not at all racist it’s a freaking miracle. Because I struggle every day with it. I’m like urgh I was so abused. I guess it could have happened from any group but because they are the ones that happen to control the world. It’s hard, it’s really hard, like this specific group of elites. It’s really hard to not just hate them, you know. So I haven’t gotten over hating that Ghislaine and the way she…

WW: I think they try and lump everyone in by design too, you know, in order to give themselves protection.

MF: Yes.

WW: I think it’s very intentional.

MF: It is very intentional.

WW: I can’t blame you for feeling that way considering what you had to go through so.

MF: Right. Well I don’t really feel that way. Let me tell you my background. Every boyfriend I’ve ever had was very Jewish, like 100 per cent, and never, I mean I had the best relationships in New York, I mean these were like the most patient guys, I don’t know why they put up with me, I think back on it and like those were the nicest guys. So there were the four boyfriends I had and everybody who got in touch with them says you know what Maria your boyfriends loved you so much and say nothing but nice things. So I have had very good experiences.But it was the Eileen Guggenheim thing and the Ghislaine all of that really soured me on like the religious, on religion in general, if you wanna know the truth. Like religion being used against people. And erm just all of it. It just really soured me. And I don’t, I don’t totally trust people, even though I have friends that are Jewish, like I still havefraught trust issues because, and it’s so unfair to them – rationally I know it’s unfair, but I was so, you know, scalded by the hot water, you know, I just can’t, I just can’t, I just can’t stick my hand back in. Like it’s too hard right now.

WW: That’s ok, it makes sense.

MF: But I don’t totally feel that way. I’m just being honest. I’m like a really honest person Whitney. And so, most people will never talk about that stuff. And I’m not…and the other thing that pisses me off is this whole anti-semitic bs because they call Bernie Sanders anti-semitic.

WW: Oh yeah, I know.

MF: I’m like, when is it going to end.

WW: It’s out of control. And the whole dual loyalty thing, you can’t say that even though you just mentioned what Ghislaine told you, right? Sheldon Adelson, he’s on video saying, all I care about is being a good citizen of Israel and he’s the top political donor in the United States. So the fact you’re not allowed to talk about is I think very troubling, right so…”

Whatever one makes of Farmer’s claims, there can be no doubt that Dershowitz has concocted a grotesque smear, depicting her as something she is not to a wide readership who will never hear the interview. Perhaps, using his own standards, we should begin to question his own reliability as a witness, using his actual – not fabricated or misleadingly presented – words.

It is not as though Dershowitz doesn’t have an impressive track record when it comes to smears and character assassination; in particular, blaming victims is something he has shown himself very willing to do.

Just a few examples will suffice here, but those looking for more documentation on Dershowitz’s reliability should consult, for starters, David Samel; Norman Finkelstein and Tim Wilkinson.

Dershowitz falsely claimed that Norman Finkelstein suspected his mother of being a ‘kapo’ by distorting a moving account of her experiences Finkelstein had recalled. He falsely and without evidence claimed that Walt and Mearsheimer drew from “neo-Nazi” websites for their work on the Israel Lobby. He called Richard Goldstone a “moser” and accused Robert Fisk of anti-Semitism when he attempted to look for the possible motivational causes of the hijackers of 911, telling listeners that Fisk was anti-American and that “anti-Americanism is the same as anti-Semitism”[1]The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East (London: Harper Perennial 2006) p. 1034..

Readers can look up Finkelstein’s thorough refutation of Dershowitz’s book The Case for Israel in Beyond Chutzpah, for examples of his deeply biased, deeply unreliable approach and well-documented attempts to justify numerous war crimes and his defence of torture.

As Finkelstein points out, Dershowitz asserts in Chutzpah,

“Anti-Semitism is the problem of bigots…Nothing we do can profoundly affect the twisted mind of the anti-Semite”. As Finkelstein puts it, “In sum, Jews can never be culpable for the antipathy others bear towards them: it’s always of their making, not ours.” (p81 Beyond Chutzpah)

Such a point is worth remembering when examining Dershowitz’s book The Case Against Israel’s Enemies. In this later book, he argues that the dispossession of the Palestinians was deserved because of their support for Hitler during World War II (in this he differs from Joan Peters whom he heavily relied on in writing his earlier The Case for Israel which largely adopted her debunked conclusions). He states that “The truth is that the Palestinian leadership, supported by the Palestinian masses, played a significant role in Hitler’s Holocaust.” (p. 196) There is, of course, not the slightest evidence of this ‘significant role’, but Dershowitz thinks it acceptable to smear an entire people and use such statements to justify ongoing human rights abuses against that same people to this day.

It’s a familiar story. Ignoring the historical context, the Occupation, “they” deserve what they get because, well, they are bigoted towards Zionists for no reason whatsoever. And as a result, we can safely ignore their testimonial authority with regard to what Dershowitz calls the “so-called Palestinian Nakba” (p.206).

Maria Farmer is only the latest victim of Dershowitz’s smears. Before you throw people under the bus, it’s best to dehumanise them, ignoring the harms done to them in order to justify your character assassination (or, when it comes to Israel, the ‘targeted’ assassinations Dershowitz supports).

Dershowitz’s latest article is of a piece with his advocacy for Israel’s crimes over the years. Blaming the victim, while making oneself invulnerable to criticism by demeaning those who dare to criticise, is a hallmark of Dershowitz’s career.


[1] The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East (London: Harper Perennial 2006) p. 1034.

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