In aiding a racist, Alan Dershowitz shows his true colors of hypocrisy

"Justice, Justice shall you pursue" is the biblical admonition that adorns the offices of many Jewish lawyers. Indeed, the Jewish legal tradition in America has a long-honored history, with role models such as Louis Marshall, Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo and Felix Frankfurter.

All these giants of American law were deeply influenced by both their religious roots and their commitment to American jurisprudence. Principles of universal justice and equality coursed through their veins. It is their shoulders this generation of Jews stands upon in working for justice and equality.

Alan Dershowitz, one of America's most high-profile attorneys and Jews, professes to stand on those shoulders. But now, he has shown his true colors, his true hypocrisy.

Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard University, used to be very conscious of Jewish and minority rights in this country. Dershowitz brooked no tolerance for racism and anti-Semitism and used his legal skills to fight both.

Now as we saw during President Clinton's impeachment trial, Dershowitz is only willing to attack, as allegedly racist, those who represent the Republican Party. At the same time, he will actively — when the CSPAN cameras are not rolling — defend an open racist and anti-Semite like Matthew Hale.

Dershowitz's vice for publicity can be the only logical explanation for his taking up the cause and case of Hale.

A 27-year-old graduate of the Southern Illinois University Law School, Hale recently passed the state bar examination. However, an Illinois state panel that judges the character and fitness of prospective attorneys found Hale unworthy of its endorsement and refused to grant Hale membership in the state bar.

Hale heads the World Church of the Creator, a white-supremacist organization, dedicated to the principles that were defeated on the battlefields in Europe during World War II. According to his Web site and the New York Times, Hale believes Adolph Hitler got just one thing wrong: He should have promoted the supremacy of all whites, not just Germans.

Hale's office has an Israeli flag as a doormat and his wallpaper consists of swastikas. His organization boasts 16 commandments, the third of which states: "Remember that the inferior mud races are our deadly enemies, and the most dangerous of all is the Jewish race. It is our immediate objective to relentlessly expand the White Race, and keep shrinking our enemies."

The Illinois State Bar should be commended for standing up for some principles when it decides who to allow to practice in its state. Its message to Hale was simply that as a lawyer one must swear to uphold the federal and state constitutions. The Illinois Bar got it right when it wrote: "If the civilized world had no experience with Hitler, Matthew Hale might be dismissed as a harmless crackpot. However, history teaches a different lesson."

Our federal and state constitutions have, by blood and ink, been reworked over many years to take account of this history and encompass the color-blind principle etched atop the U.S. Supreme Court: "Equal Justice Under Law."

The law is the last redoubt against discrimination in this country. Someone who admires Hitler, believes in segregation, and runs a several-thousand member organization and Web site dedicated to Nazi principles and segregation has no place in the legal profession. As Hale should know, the Illinois Bar requires that no lawyer engage in "adverse discriminatory treatment of litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others, based on race, sex, religion, or national origin."

Just a brief glance at Hale's Web site will reveal that he has nothing but contempt for every value in the preceding prohibition.

Shame on Dershowitz for counseling and representing such a blatant and unabashed racist. After all, it was through the celebrated legal profession that Jews, African Americans and all others minorities found their ultimate redress against bigotry. It was through that profession that the United States could rededicate itself to the high principles within the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

"Justice, justice shall you pursue" speaks of two justices — the ends of justice and the means of justice. Neither are served by white-supremacist lawyers.

Hale's ends are an all-white country and his means can, at best, be open to serious question and continuing doubt. Marshall, Brandeis, Cardozo and Frankfurter would have no truck with an activist bigot like Hale.

Dershowitz should know better than to lend his Jewish voice and professional skill to Hale's racist megaphone.

The worst form of shame, we were taught by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, is having none. Dershowitz should be ashamed of any affiliation with Hale whatsoever. The legal community and the Jewish community deserve at least that much.