That’s the headline from the April 5 Chronicle of Higher Education.
“His scholarship is no more than ad hominem attacks on his ideological enemies.” No, that’s not a statement about Alan Dershowitz (whose multi-part ad hominem attack on his ideological enemy Jimmy Carter is nicely dissected by Mitchell Plitnick here). That’s Dershowitz on Finkelstein, explaining why he sent a “dossier of Norman Finkelstein’s most egregious academic sins, and especially his outright lies, misquotations, and distortions” to “everybody who would read it ” at DePaul University. (Dershowitz says he compiled the file at the request of some 24 people associated with DePaul.)
We wrote earlier about The Holocaust Industry author Norman Finkelstein’s battle for tenure at DePaul. It should not come as a surprise that Dershowitz is back: several years ago the famed First Amendement advocate waged a scorched earth campaign, prior to publication, against Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah:On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, which contained several hundred pages chronicling, to put it more charitably than Finkelstein did, errors in Dershowitz’s book, The Case for Israel.
In this must-read article in the Nation in 2005:
What do you do when somebody wants to publish a book that says you’re completely wrong? If you’re Alan Dershowitz, the prominent Harvard law professor, and the book is Norman Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, you write the governor of California and suggest that he intervene with the publisher–because the publisher is the University of California Press, which conceivably might be subject to the power of the governor.
Payback looks an awful lot like this (from the Chronicle):
The highly public feud between Norman G. Finkelstein of DePaul University and Harvard Law School’s Alan M. Dershowitz has taken an unusual procedural twist, with Mr. Dershowitz attempting to weigh in on Mr. Finkelstein’s bid for tenure at DePaul.
How Mr. Dershowitz’s move will play out remains to be seen. Mr. Finkelstein’s department supported his tenure bid, but the dean of his college has refused to support him. A final decision is expected next month.
Given Mr. Dershowitz’s history of clashes with Mr. Finkelstein, some might conclude that the matter had by now become more personal than professional. Mr. Dershowitz denied that. “For me, it’s not personal. It’s institutional.” He said that Mr. Finkelstein sent “a message to other pro-Israel writers: If you dare write anything scholarly in favor of Israel, I will call you names, I will call you a plagiarist.”
Mr. Dershowitz’s involvement has stirred serious concern among the DePaul faculty.
Gil Gott, a professor of international studies at DePaul who is chairman of its Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Faculty Governance Council, said in an e-mail message on Wednesday that the council had taken up the matter at its November 17, 2006, meeting. (Mr. Gott was not then chair of the council.)
According to the minutes of the session, the council voted unanimously to authorize a letter to DePaul’s president, Dennis H. Holtschneider, and the university’s provost, Helmut P. Epp, along with the president of Harvard University and the dean of Harvard Law school. The letter was to express “the council’s dismay at Professor Dershowitz’s interference in Finkelstein’s tenure and promotion case” and also to explain “that the sanctity of the tenure and promotion process is violated by Professor Dershowitz’s emails.”
The minutes add: “A discussion followed in which members expressed their views that this was a very disturbing intrusion which attacked the sovereignty of an academic institution to govern its own affairs.”
Asked whether it was unusual for a scholar to weigh in on tenure deliberations at another university, Mr. Dershowitz responded, “What’s so unusual about a concerned academic’s objecting to his receiving tenure? He would be the first person in history ever to receive tenure based on no scholarship other than personal attacks.”
Mr. Finkelstein contacted The Chronicle last weekend to discuss his concerns about the status of his case. He said that his department had investigated Mr. Dershowitz’s claims and “concluded that none of the scholarly allegations that Dershowitz leveled against me had any merit.”
There’s plenty of evidence so far to back up Finkelstein’s claim. His department voted 9-3, in favor of granting tenure and a collegewide faculty panel voted unanimously to support hime (5-0). Concerns raised about Finkelstein seem largely to focus on the tone of his writing and “frequent personal attacks.”
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