Help prevent Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz from
intervening in De Paul University to get
Norman G. Finkelstein fired

9 April 2007
by G.S.  <george.salzman@umb.edu>

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-04-09.htm

      Norman G. Finkelstein is a rock of solidity in academia. His effectiveness in making known much of the truth about the Israel-Palestine conflict is so great that Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University has mounted a disgraceful one-person campaign to try to bury his voice by preventing him from gaining tenure in DePaul University, i.e. by getting him fired.

      As the United States and Israel become more and more enmeshed in the colossal destruction of the Middle East, it is vital that open discussion and debate on the key issue of the Israel-Palestine conflict be possible. Dershowitz is pursuing an obscene campaign to silence Finkelstein's highly informed participation in this much needed discussion.

Stop the Dershowitz campaign against Finkelstein

      You can take part in the effort to protect honest discourse on the crucial issue of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Background information on the Dershowitz campaign is available at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-04-08.htm . If you decide to participate by writing to the president of De Paul University to support rejection of Dershowitz’s attempted intervention, there is a sample letter by Miriam Reik in the information linked to above. Two more sample letters follow:


Subject: The Finkelstein Tenure Case
From: Kevin Murray <murray.kevin@verizon.net>
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2007 04:07:19 -0700 (PDT)
To: Dennis H. Holtschneider <president@depaul.edu>
CC: Norman G. Finkelstein <normangf@hotmail.com>, Alan Dershowitz <dersh@law.harvard.edu>

April 11, 2007

The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., Ed.D.
President, DePaul University

Dear Reverend Holtschneider:

      I am not an academic, but have been working for the last 30 years in the fields of international development and human rights. While working for the Jesuit Refugee Service in El Salvador during the late 1980s and early 1990s, I had the opportunity to meet many faculty and students from DePaul University and developed a high degree of respect for the seriousness of DePaul’s faculty and its strong commitment to the formation of students that were prepared to think critically about their world. I do not profess to understand the process by which DePaul or any other university makes decisions on the tenure of their professors. I have, however, read several accounts of the efforts of Alan Dershowitz to influence DePaul’s deliberations regarding the tenure case of Norman Finkelstein, and I am compelled to comment on those efforts.

      For years, Dershowitz has built a career around his knee-jerk support for the policies and practices of the State of Israel. He has left no stone unturned in this regard, and has never hesitated to personally attack anyone taking a view on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that differs from his own. The record on this is long and entirely obvious. Most recently, Dershowitz pilloried President Jimmy Carter for daring to question the mainstream view of the conflict in his book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

      In addressing a less-than-friendly crowd at Brandeis University, Carter acknowledged the book’s imperfections, but defended its essential thesis that there is a need for a major reassessment of U.S. policy toward the conflict. He also expressed the extent to which he had been hurt by the personal attacks of people like Dershowitz and then said, “I didn’t know that the Brandeis community needed a professor from Harvard to come out here and tell it what to think about the Middle East.” With Dershowitz waiting in the wings to launch a frontal attack on his book, Carter’s words were well chosen. The comment also has relevance to this case. Thankfully for him, Pres. Carter is not under consideration for tenure at any U.S. university.

      Norman Finkelstein is under such consideration. Given Finkelstein’s own controversial positions and, especially, his questioning of Dershowitz’s scholarship, the Harvard professor has an evident personal reason to want to discredit Finkelstein’s work and destroy his livelihood. That, alone, should cause the University to take any observation the Harvard professor might make about Finkelstein’s case with a grain (if not several grains) of salt. I didn’t know that the DePaul community needed a professor from Harvard to help it make tenure decisions on its own faculty...especially a Harvard professor with such an obvious bias in this case.

      I don’t consider myself well-placed to make a recommendation on the merits of Finkelstein’s tenure case. While I don't love Finkelstein's style of argument in all of his writing, I credit Finkelstein for directing his rigorous academic work in a direction that is sure to draw the ire, not just of the Alan Dershowitzs of the world, but of much of the U.S. academic and political establisment. A more prudent scholar, with a better-refined sense of self interest would pursue other academic interests, but the truth seems to matter to Norman Finkelstein. I certainly feel comfortable asking that you see that this decision is made without consideration of input like that offered by Dershowitz.

      I thank you, in advance for your consideration of these points, and wish you all the best in your continuing efforts to lead a great university.

Sincerely,
Kevin Murray
Roslindale, MA


Subject: Professor Alan Dershowitz' Intervention in DePaul University
From: George Salzman <george.salzman@umb.edu>
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2007 11:47:35 -0500
To: Dennis H. Holtschneider <president@depaul.edu>
CC: Norman G. Finkelstein <normangf@hotmail.com>, Alan M. Dershowitz <dersh@law.harvard.edu>

Monday, 9 April 2007

The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., Ed.D.
President DePaul University

Dear Reverend Holtschneider,

      I write you regarding the effort of Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz to intervene in DePaul University's tenure consideration of Professor Norman G. Finkelstein.

      Setting aside for the moment which of these two bitter academic contestants is more accurate in portraying the true nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict, I urge a strong, principled stand by your institution, utterly rejecting the legitimacy of Mr. Dershowitz's attempted intervention.

      The Chronicle of Higher EducationI account at http://chronicle.com/temp/email2.php?id=tqyfjnxDdNnvzcffqm3kYcxKjWm3pgDH , on which I am relying, reports that your Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Faculty Governance Council, at its meeting on November 17, 2006, “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” which “Professor Dershowitz’s emails” violate.

      Your Faculty Governance Council should be commended not only for the substance of its principled stand but for making available the minutes of its meeting at which its decision was taken.

      The intervention of Alan Dershowitz in Norman Finkelstein’s tenure review is particularly egregious because Finkelstein has shown, with meticulous care, irrefutably, that Dershowitz, in his book The Case for Israel, plagairized substantial material from Joan Peters’ book, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine. Peters’ book is well known to be a total fraud. Finkelstein, a skillful and committed scholar, has been relentless in uncovering the massively organized propagandistic misrepresentation of the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The false, pro-Israel version held almost undisputed sway from 1948 until it began to be challenged in 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon. Dershowitz used Peters’ material to help meet his own apparent psychological need to justify Israel’s actions. That he knowingly claimed the material taken from Peters’ book was his own historical research was, independently of the fraudulent nature of the material itself, surely grounds for Harvard to have revoked his tenure and fired him. Lying, as a faculty member, by claiming plagairized material to be his own academic research, is unacceptable academic conduct, tenure notwithstanding.

      Dean Charles S. Suchar of your College of Liberal Arts and Sciences appears to have based his rejection of the unanimous recommendation by the College Personnel Committee in favor of Finkelstein’s tenure on his judgment: “I find the personal attacks in many of Dr. Finkelstein’s published books to border on character assassination and, in my opinion, they embody a strategy clearly aimed at destroying the reputation of many who oppose his views.” It is certainly true that Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky write very different kinds of polemics. However, Chomsky, like Finkelstein, exposes the shallow scholarly basis on which ‘the reputation of many who oppose his views’ are based, and in that way Chomsky acts to destroy their scholarly reputations. Among those ‘many’ are the uninformed but not malicious academics and others who honestly believe Israel is righteous. But Mr. Dershowitz is in a different category. He is not acting out of ignorance. His efforts to stifle open discussion and debate on the Israel-Palestine conflict are both legion, and undertaken with full readiness to lie. In this he acts as a lawyer, not a scholarly academic. His goal is to win ‘the case for Israel’, not to uncover the truth, and if besmirching Finkelstein and trying to destroy his livelihood and thus punishing him for not shutting up are, in Dershowitz’s belief, useful tools for his campaign, he seizes them without hesitation. In my opinion his efforts are despicable.

      I know full well that universities are not isolated from the society at large, and are subject to political and financial pressures, but I hope that you and your university will not be influenced by Dershowitz’s attempted intervention.

Very sincerely,
George Salzman
Prof. Emeritus
University of Massachusetts at Boston


      My assertion above, “Finkelstein has shown, with meticulous care, irrefutably, that Dershowitz, in his book The Case for Israel, plagairized substantial material from Joan Peters’ book, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine” rests on the material in Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah. The facts are nailed down there in Appendix I, pp.229-254.


All comments and criticisms are welcome.    george.salzman@umb.edu

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