92nd Y Denies ‘Blackballing’ Dershowitz On #MeToo Charges
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92nd Y Denies ‘Blackballing’ Dershowitz On #MeToo Charges

Hannah Dreyfus is a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week. She covers abuses of power in non-profit and religious settings. She heads up the Investigative Journalism Fund, an initiative to fill a gap in investigative and enterprise reporting. Reach her at hannah@jewishweek.org

Alan Dershowitz at NEP Studios in New York, Feb. 3, 2016. Getty Images
Alan Dershowitz at NEP Studios in New York, Feb. 3, 2016. Getty Images

The 92nd Street Y is on the defensive after Alan Dershowitz accused the institution of “blackballing” him because of #MeToo-related allegations.

Dershowitz had hoped to promote his new book on Israel at the Y, a cultural and community hub on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, but said he was told by officials there that he would not be allowed to speak because of allegations he had sex with a woman who says she was trafficked for sex by the late Jeffrey Epstein.

Dershowitz had hoped to promote his new book on Israel at the Y, a cultural and community hub on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, but said he was told by officials there that he would not be allowed to speak because of allegations he had sex with a woman associated with the late Jeffrey Epstein.

Dershowitz, who has denied the allegations, at one time represented Epstein, a convicted sexual predator who before his death in August faced new charges that he orchestrated a sex-trafficking scheme involving dozens of vulnerable girls and women.

The Y told The Jewish Week in a statement that it did not censor Dershowitz.

“As we told him when he approached us about appearing on our stage this fall, we are unable to provide a forum for every author who wants to promote a book,” Carrie Oman, the 92Y’s communications director, said in a statement. “This is not censorship, this is the reality of being an institution at which many more people wish to appear than we have stage time to offer.”

In a Nov. 14 op-ed in the Algemeiner, an online Jewish publication, the Harvard Law professor accused the Y of “McCarthyite censorship” for not booking him.

The 92Y on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Wikimedia Commons

“What other reason could there be?” Dershowitz, who has appeared repeatedly at the Y in the past, said in a phone interview Monday. “The #MeToo movement pops up and suddenly they don’t have room for me?”

According to a source outside the Y with knowledge of the matter, it is “easier to claim to be blacklisted because of your beliefs — which inflates your importance — than it is to admit your relevance and popularity have diminished.” Dershowitz’s “willingness to attack an institution such as 92Y to prop up his reputation and get press for his book is a new low,” said the source.

Dershowitz fired back that he has it from a “direct authority” that he was “disinvited” because the center did not want, according to a representative, “trouble or protests.” He did not name the representative.

The community center found itself on the opposite side of a similar controversy in December 2017 after it extended an offer to Israeli author and columnist Ari Shavit, despite previous allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Shavit, who was scheduled as the keynote speaker at an Israel Independence Day ceremony at the center, was ultimately nixed from the schedule due to protests.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre has also alleged that Epstein “lent [her] out” to Dershowitz for sex as part of Epstein’s sex-trafficking scheme.

Dershowitz insists that he never met Giuffre and that her accusation is false and defamatory.

“I did nothing wrong; I have nothing to hide,” Dershowitz said.

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