Justus Weiner is a UC Berkeley law school graduate, a Boston native, and a member of the Israel and New York Bar Associations. In the United States, he practiced law as an associate in the litigation department of the international law firm White & Case, before moving to Israel in 1981. Weiner further told Salon.com that after moving to Israel, he "worked for the Israeli Ministry of Justice...investigating claims by human rights groups and media organizations about Israeli conduct toward Palestinians" until 1993.
A scholar at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Weiner has written about legal and religious issues and human rights, particularly in Palestinian society. Weiner was also was the principal author of the monograph Referral to Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide, with Elie Wiesel, Dore Gold and others.
Following a 1997 meeting with a Christian pastor who alleged human rights abuses directed at Muslims who converted to Christianity, Weiner became interested in the topic, and subsequently conducted research and published in this area.
Weiner's claims about Said's early life
In his Commentary article, reprinted on August 26, 1999 on the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal as "The False Prophet of Palestine", Weiner argued that Edward Said's immediate family did not permanently reside in Talbiya or live there during the final months of the British Mandate, and were thus not refugees. Weiner said Said's aunt owned a house in Talbiya where Said's family visited. Weiner also stated that Said had no recollection of the Consulate of Yugoslavia located in the aunt's home or that Martin Buber had been evicted from the house in 1942 when Said was seven years old. Weiner wrote, "On [Said's] birth certificate, prepared by the ministry of health of the British Mandate, his parents specified their permanent address as Cairo" and that Said's family is mentioned in consecutive annual directories, such as the Egyptian Directory, the Cairo telephone directory, Who's Who in Egypt and the Middle East, but not in similar listings for Jerusalem. Weiner wrote that Said did not attend St. George's Academy in Jerusalem, except briefly, and that his name was not on the school registry.
Weiner did not interview Edward Said. Asked about this, he said that after conducting research that lasted three years, he saw no need to talk to Said about his memories or his childhood: "The evidence became so overwhelming. It was no longer an issue of discrepancies. It was a chasm. There was no point in calling him up and saying, 'You're a liar, you're a fraud.'"
Journalists Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair described Weiner's account as "deliberately falsified," noting Weiner had interviewed another of Edward Said's childhood classmates but had omitted any mention of that interview.
In The Nation, Christopher Hitchens wrote that schoolmates and teachers confirmed Said's stay at St. George's, but quotes Said saying in 1992 that he had spent much of his youth in Cairo. Hitchens told Salon magazine that Weiner's article was an "essay of extraordinary spite and mendacity." Weiner replied, "The issue here is credibility, a man with an international reputation who made himself into a poster boy for Palestine." New Republic editor Charles Lane said he considered publishing the article but discussions broke off when Weiner refused to "look at the galley of Said's memoir and take it into account."
In Jewish World Review, Jonathan Tobin offers support for Weiner's claims: "Rather than growing up as a victim in war-torn Palestine, Said lived a privileged life as the son of a prominent businessman in Cairo with an American passport (!)."
In The Guardian, Julian Borger wrote "The Said family, including the 12-year-old Edward, left Jerusalem in 1947 when it became too dangerous to remain in the crossfire between Arabs and Jews over the city's future. Christopher Hitchens, a US-based British journalist and a Said family friend, said: "There's no question. The Saids decided to go because life was made hard for them. It became difficult and dangerous for him to go to school."
Holocaust survivor and Israeli human rights activist Israel Shahak said the argument over how the Said family left Jerusalem did not affect Said's status as a refugee. He said, "This is like saying the Jews who escaped from Germany before the war were not kicked out. The main argument is that they were prevented from returning to their land. This is what it is about."
Response of Said
In his 1994 book, the Politics of Dispossession, Edward Said had written, "I was born in Jerusalem in late 1935, and I grew up there and in Egypt and Lebanon; most of my family – dispossessed and displaced from Palestine in 1947 and 1948 – had ended up mostly in Jordan and Lebanon."
In his response to Weiner's article, titled "Defamation, Zionist-style", Said explained that "the family house was in fact a family house in the Arab sense, which meant that our families were one in ownership," and that his name could not be on the school's registry, which was terminated a year before he attended. In his autobiography, Said wrote that his father Wadie's name was not on the title of the house his sister had inherited from their father: "He didn't want his name on the title," because he "didn't like having his name on anything he had to have it on."
Said complained that the "Zionist movement has resorted to shabbier and shabbier techniques" in hiring "an obscure Israeli-American lawyer to 'research' the first ten years of my life and 'prove' that even though I was born in Jerusalem I was never really there". He did not state who he alleged hired Weiner or offer any evidence that Weiner had been hired. To an interviewer, Said said, "I was born in Jerusalem; my family is a Jerusalem family. We left Palestine in 1947. We left before most others. It was a fortuitous thing... I never said I was a refugee, but the rest of my family was. My entire extended family was driven out."
- 'My Beautiful Old House' and Other Fabrications by Edward Said" Commentary 1999. Article in paid archive.
- "Hard facts meet soft law: the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles and the prospects for peace: a response to Katherine W. Meighan" Virginia Journal of International Law, 35(4) Summer 1995
- Peace and Its Discontents: Israeli and Palestinian Intellectuals Who Reject the Current Peace Process. International Law Journal. 29, 501.
- The Palestinian Refugees' "Right to Return" and the peace process. Boston College International and Comparative Law Review. 20, 1.
- Terrorism: Israel's legal responses. Journal of International Law and Commerce. -. 142, 183–207.
- Israel-Palestinian Peace Process: A Critical Analysis of the Cairo Agreement.
- Human rights in the Israeli administered areas during the Intifada, 1987–1990. Madison, University of Wisconsin Law School.
- Business ethics and social responsibility. Jerusalem, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rothberg School for Overseas Students.
- The temporary international presence in the city of Hebron ("TIPH"): a unique approach to peacekeeping. Jerusalem, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Peacekeepers: Will they advance any prospective Arab-Israeli peace agreement? Fordham International Law Journal. 34, 1.
- Legal Implications of 'Safe Passage': Reconciling a Viable Palestinian State with Israel's Security Requirements. University of Connecticut Journal of International Law. 22, 233.
- International legal business environment: reader. Jerusalem, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- JCPA publications by Justus Reid Weiner
- National Post: How a Jewish lawyer came to devote his career to protecting Christians in the Palestinian Territories
- Ralph Keyes (12 October 2004). The post-truth era: dishonesty and deception in contemporary life. Macmillan. pp. 136–. ISBN 978-0-312-30648-9. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
- Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Justus Reid Weiner
- Offman, Craig (September 10, 1999). "Said critic blasts back at Hitchens". Salon.com.
- Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
- David Bukay (2008). From Muhammad to Bin Laden: religious and ideological sources of the homicide bombers phenomenon. Transaction Publishers. pp. 182–. ISBN 978-0-7658-0390-0. Retrieved 12 March 2011. The author cites Weiner's article Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society
- Ko Swan Sik; M. C. W. Pinto; J. J. G. Syatauw (30 July 1997). Asian Yearbook International Law, 1995. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 538–. ISBN 978-90-411-0375-8. Retrieved 12 March 2011. The reference here is to Weiner's Human Rights in the Israeli Administered Area during the Intifada: 1987–1990
- Swan Sik; Ko Swan Sik (November 1998). African Yearbook of International Law, 1996. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 494–. ISBN 978-90-411-1082-4. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
- Joyce M. Davis (26 October 2004). Martyrs: innocence, vengeance, and despair in the Middle East. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 31–. ISBN 978-1-4039-6681-0. Retrieved 12 March 2011. Author cites Weiner's The use of Palestinian Children in the Al-Aqsa Intifada
- Robert S. Wistrich (10 November 2009). A lethal obsession: anti-semitism from antiquity to the global Jihad. Random House Digital, Inc. pp. 1433–. ISBN 978-1-4000-6097-9. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
- Referral to Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide
- Edward Alexander (2003). Classical liberalism & the Jewish tradition. Transaction Publishers. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-0-7658-0153-1. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
- David Pryce-Jones (January 2008). "Enough Said: A review of Defending the West: A Critque of Edward Said's Orientalism by Ibn Warraq". The New Criterion. Archived from the original on 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
- Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society
- "Persecuting the Holy Land's Christians" by Jamie Glazov, Front Page Magazine December 26, 2005
- Caroline Cox; Catherine Butcher (4 July 2006). Cox's book of modern saints and martyrs. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 159–. ISBN 978-0-8264-8788-9. Retrieved 12 March 2011.Weiner's tribute to a murdered Palestinian convert to Christianity
- Qtd. in "Commentary: 'Scholar' Deliberately Falsified Record in Attack on Said," Counterpunch September 1, 1999, accessed February 10, 2006.
- Rpt. in Michael Sprinkler, ed. Edward Said: A Critical Reader (London: Blackwell, 1993). ISBN 1-55786-229-X.
- http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/tobin082799.asp Jewish World Review Aug. 27, 1999, "Opening up Historical Cans of Worms: Myths and facts about Edward Said and Israel's War of Independence" by Jonathan Tobin
- "Friends rally to repulse attack on Edward Said" by Julian Borger 23 August 1999
- The Politics of Dispossession: The Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination, 1969–1994 by Edward Said Pantheon Books, 1994, 450 pgs. ISBN 978-0-679-43057-5
- Edward Said, "Defamation, Zionist-style," Al-Ahram Weekly August 26 – Sept. 1 1999, accessed February 10, 2006.
- Edward Said, "Freud, Zionism, and Vienna" Al-Ahram Weekly March 15–21, 2001, accessed October 31, 2006.
- Amritjit Singh, Interviews with Edward W. Said (Oxford: University Press of Mississippi, 2004) pp. 19, 219. ISBN 1-57806-366-3.