Beyond Chutzpah

Süddeutsche Zeitung Review of Beyond Chutzpah

Ludger Heid, “Kronzeuge mit Chuzpe: Norman G. Finkelstein zieht erneut gegen Israel zu Felde,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 6 June 2006 (www.sueddeutsche.de)

Ludger Heid, “Crown Witness with Chutzpah: Norman G. Finkelstein Has Embarked on a New Anti-Israel Crusade,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 6 June 2006

The harshest criticism of the disproportionate military operations against the Palestinians comes from within Israel itself. Also, the majority of Israelis advocate a two-state solution. It would nonetheless be absurd for the Israeli government to accuse the domestic opponents of its policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians of anti-Semitism. Yet, according to Norman G. Finkelstein, this is exactly what it does. He deplores the use by Israel and its big American ally of the anti-Semitism slur against critics of their common Palestine policy. This criticism includes condemnations of repressive measures taken against the Palestinians like, for instance, the settlement policy, the construction of a wall encroaching on Palestinian territory, or the targeted killings of Palestinian militants. According to Finkelstein, Israel uses its historic victim role to exculpate itself for its rigid policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians, while at the same time it sabotages their legitimate interests in an autonomous state. This rhetoric bespeaks a demonization of Israel, based on ideological preconceptions. It’s the kind of talk one usually hears from the mouths of declared anti-Zionists.

Finkelstein is an American-Jewish professor of political science who, in order to make his views appear more credible, sets great store by the fact that he is the son of Holocaust survivors. He differentiates between the terms “Nazi holocaust” and “The Holocaust,” the former denoting the actual historical event, the latter the ideological instrumentalization of that event. And so he returns to his old thesis.

The gist of Finkelstein’s claim is this: Israel pursues an anti-Palestinian agenda, and this agenda is carried out with the active support of the US. Together they instrumentalize the destruction of the Jews in order to justify moral blackmail. They try to make sure that critics of Israel appear as anti-Semites in disguise. And they want any reports about the suffering inflicted on Palestinians by the Israeli occupation to be taboo because, in their view, only Israel is entitled to victim status.

It soon dawns upon the reader that Finkelstein’s polemic is above all a devastating critique of Alan M. Dershowitz’s apologetic book, The Case for Israel, the American edition of which came out in 2003. The book has also been published in German translation.* Dershowitz, a Harvard professor of law and a top lawyer, is an influential figure in the US; his book became an immediate best seller and was widely distributed. His autobiography, which had been published shortly before,** was appropriately titled Chutzpah.

The fact that Finkelstein is the son of survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto does not make his anti-theses any more credible. On the contrary, one might argue that he himself resorts to the same argumentative means that he accuses his critics of. And then there is something else that ought not to be overlooked, and one should not be overly timid about it, for Finkelstein himself does not exactly treat others with kid gloves: Finkelstein appears to enjoy the role of a Jewish – hence seemingly unchallengeable – crown witness who provides the anti-Israel/anti-Jewish factions with (anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic) cues.

Finkelstein’s message for his German readers is to follow a moral imperative and to try to rise to a real challenge: to keep an eye on the human rights violations that are being committed today while at the same time bearing in mind the German past that is calling for retribution. However, due to his superficial polemic, Finkelstein’s distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies of separation and exclusion on the one hand, and the genuinely anti-Semitic/anti-Zionist opinions and prejudices on the other, is not particularly convincing.

To be sure, even declared friends of Israel can have their doubts about, or even despair over, Israel’s policies. Yet it is astonishing that Finkelstein never once mentions the [Jewish state's] right to exist, a right which is persistently denied by Arab hardliners who in the meantime have taken over governmental responsibility in the immediate vicinity of the Jewish state.

Finkelstein has caused a stir again, like he did in 2001, when he broke the taboo about the “Holocaust industry.” Though his latest book may be less provocative than the one that came out five years ago, it, too, clearly is a case of “chutzpah,” as the American edition correctly notes. And now that Finkelstein has once again been given a forum, it probably won’t be long before German combatants join the historians’ debate he has been fueling in the United States.

Norman G. Finkelstein, Antisemitismus als politische Waffe: Israel, Amerika und der Mißbrauch der Geschichte. Piper, Munich 2006, 388 pp., EUR 19.90.

(Translation: Maren Hackmann)

Translator’s notes:

* Here the reviewer refers readers to a review on the same page, of both Dershowitz and Chomsky, by Thorsten Schmitz, “Im Pulverdampf des Kampfgeschehens: Beim Thema Nahostkonflikt sind vor allem einäugige Polemiken beliebt,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 6 June 2006.

** In the German edition of Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah, which the reviewer pretends to have read, it is repeatedly noted that the American edition of Dershowitz’s Chutzpah already came out in 1991 and that the German translation was published in 2000.


Another Day, Another Lie

By ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ

To the editors:

In her comment, “One Week Later” (Apr. 28), Lauren Schuker wrote that I “recently stood accused…of academic dishonesty.” The crucial fact that Schuker fails to mention is that I was innocent of that politically motivated charge and was so found after a thorough investigation, which I requested. Several distinguished individuals who examined the accusations including former Dartmouth President James O. Freedman, former Solicitor General Charles Fried, and the head of the Harvard Law School library Harry S. Martin ’65 also dismissed them as baseless.

The charges were part of a politically motivated campaign by a hard-left, anti-Israel academic who was falsely charging “plagiarism” against me and several other pro-Israel writers. The false charge was that I found several quotations by Mark Twain, Lord Peel, and others in a secondary source, but cited them to the primary sources in which they originally appeared. That is the citation method approved by The Chicago Manual of Style. Moreover, I cited the secondary source eight times and was using several of the quotes years before the secondary source was even published. I can document highly visible anti-Israel writers who have done exactly the same thing I was accused of doing, but were never accused of plagiarism by my biased accuser.

Plagiarism is a serious charge. It should not be trivialized by failing to distinguish those who are innocent of it from those who have admitted to it.

ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ

Cambridge, Mass.

May 1, 2006

The writer is Frankfurter Professor of Law.



Political Allegiance Shouldn’t Bear On Merit Of Argument

The Harvard Crimson | May 26, 2006
by Norman G. Finkelstein

To the editors:

Alan Dershowitz dismisses allegations of plagiarism on the grounds that I am a “hard-left” academic (“Plagiarism Accusations Unfairly Characterized,” letter, May 5). I understand neither what this means nor its relevance: the basis of rational inquiry is the merit of an argument, not its provenance.

NORMAN G. FINKELSTEIN

Chicago, Ill.

May 8, 2006

The writer is a professor of political science at DePaul University.


Reviews of German edition of Beyond Chutzpah

Editor’s note:

* Frankfurter Rundschau review, 05.10.2006
* Vorwärts review, 05.12.2006
* more reviews of German edition here



Frankfurter Rundschau Review of Beyond Chutzpah

Rudolf Walther, “Zu viel Platz für den Gegner: Norman G. Finkelstein verheddert sich beim Versuch, ‘Antisemitismus als politische Waffe’ zu entlarven,” Frankfurter Rundschau, 10 May 2006 (http://www.fr-aktuell.de)

Rudolf Walther, “A forum for the foe: Norman G. Finkelstein seeks to expose the misuse of anti-Semitism as a political weapon — and gets bogged down in details,” Frankfurter Rundschau, 10 May 2006

When almost six years ago Norman G. Finkelstein’s book, The Holocaust Industry, was published in the United States, a heated debate broke out in Germany even before the translation was available. The title in itself was a provocation. Finkelstein sought to prove that the excesses of Holocaust commemoration in the United States were by no means the manifestations of some strange, inexplicable phenomenon, but rather the result of very deliberate policies. He argued that the motor of all the bustling activity regarding the Holocaust was neither commemoration of the victims nor commitment to Israel, but political gain for American-Jewish organizations. Thus, although Finkelstein’s thesis did contain a “kernel of truth” (Julius Schoeps), he stretched his argument too far and approached the realm of crude conspiracy theories. Had he given Peter Novick’s subtle study, The Holocaust in American Life (1999), serious attention, Finkelstein could have avoided this blunder.

Major issues — like, for instance, the allegation that only 15 percent of the restitution monies had been distributed to the survivors while the remaining funds either went into the Claims Conference’s own coffers or to Israel — did not receive the attention they deserved. Renowned German historians had called for a judicial investigation at the time, but these issues nonetheless remain unresolved to this day. Hopes that Finkelstein’s book would help “open a window” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) were frustrated.

Finkelstein’s new book, too, deals with an explosive issue: “Anti-Semitism as a Political Weapon.”* In the first part of the book, Finkelstein examines the periodic discovery, or fabrication, of a “new anti-Semitism.” From its first use in the title of a 1974 book by Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein right up to the fierce attacks on the film, The Passion of the Christ, ever newer manifestations of the “new anti-Semitism” have been materializing at regular intervals.

This does occasionally lead to grotesque exaggerations. American journalist Ron Rosenbaum spoke about the danger of a “second Holocaust” in the context of Palestinian suicide bombings, while Philip Greenspun, a respected natural scientist [sic], maintained on the Internet that Europe initially created Israel “as a concentration camp for Jews” and that history clearly shows that “most concentration camps for Jews have eventually turned into death camps.”

According to Finkelstein, the so-called new anti-Semitism which, for 30 years, has been cropping up in numerous debates, consists of three components, one of which is real while the other two are chimerical. Component number one: exaggeration and fabrication. When, for instance, one Jewish student was attacked by a Palestinian on campus, the media turned the incident into a whole wave of “new anti-Semitism.” In 2004, it was alleged that New York’s Columbia University “silenced” “pro-Israel voices” among the students. Columbia’s president immediately appointed a committee which carefully investigated the complaints. However, it “found no evidence of any statements made by the faculty that could reasonably be construed as anti-Semitic.” Yet the suspicions may well rest on Columbia for some time to come.

Component number two of the “new anti-Semitism” is more important. More and more often, criticism of Israeli policies, especially with regard to the occupied territories, is alleged to constitute, or at least foment, a “new anti-Semitism” — a mindless generalization. When, Jewish billionaire George Soros, for example, simply stated that anti-Semitic acts in Europe had something to do with Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza, he was immediately accused of anti-Semitism.

Component number three is of a lasting kind: the “spillover from criticism of Israel to Jews generally.” As Finkelstein shows, however, there is nothing new about that. This is a manifestation of the age-old anti-Semitism, exposure of which is a minimum requirement for every rational human being.

In the second part of the book, which is larger than the first, Finkelstein deals almost exclusively with Alan M. Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel. Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard, modeled his book on legal proceedings, its 32 chapters being divided into the sections “The Accusation;” “The Accusers;” “The Reality;” and “The Proof.” Thus the various roles of opinion-maker, prosecutor, defense lawyer, and judge are all played by the same person, namely by the author himself — a peculiar concept for a legal scholar.

Finkelstein seeks to demolish the shoddy piece of work that this ideological muscleman** has cobbled together; and he does so almost sentence by sentence, thus proving, at great length, that Dershowitz’s “reality” tends to consist of propagandistic apologetics and baseless claims. To be sure, Israel does violate human rights and this cannot be justified by the fact that Arab states too violate human rights. But did Finkelstein really have to spend so many pages elaborating on that? Was it worth the trouble? When someone uses a transparent shyster’s trick to doctor casualty figures, how many pages and how much energy should be devoted to exposing it?

To get bogged down in the details of such nonsense is to depart from the appropriate intellectual level. Dismissing those ramblings as totally unacceptable would have been quite enough. You don’t have to prove that a wheel is actually not an equilateral rectangle. Of course, Dershowitz’s book calls for a rejoinder. But instead of just writing a short, devastating critique, Finkelstein engaged in a detailed polemic.*** In order to be able to refute Dershowitz at such great length, Finkelstein first of all had to allow his foe to make his case at equally great length, so, invariably, Finkelstein gave over rather large portions of his own book to Dershowitz’s allegations, “reality,” and arguments. The meticulousness with which Finkelstein went about his task deserves respect. But he paid dearly for it — with a book which, though brimming with facts, is boring and too long. Much would have been gained from a cut in size.

Norman G. Finkelstein, Antisemitismus als politische Waffe: Israel, Amerika und der Mißbrauch der Geschichte. Translated by Maren Hackmann. Piper Verlag, Munich, 2006, 388 pp., EUR 19.90.

(Translation: Maren Hackmann)

Translator’s notes:
* German title of Beyond Chutzpah.
** The reviewer calls Dershowitz a “Gesinnungsathlet,” which may or may not translate as “ideological muscleman.”
*** The reviewer calls Finkelstein’s book a “philologisch unterfütterte Detailpolemik” — whatever that means.



Vorwärts Review of Beyond Chutzpah

Rolf Helfert, “Das Trugbild des Antisemitismus,” Vorwärts (online edition), 12 May 2006 (vorwaerts.de)

Rolf Helfert, “The Specter of Anti-Semitism,” Vorwärts (online edition), 12 May 2006

Not for the first time, Norman Finkelstein provokes. His theses regarding the “Holocaust industry” have already triggered off numerous debates. Finkelstein’s new book, too, is a valuable contribution to the political discourse.

Critics of Israel are often regarded as “new anti-Semites,” Finkelstein maintains. This stigmatization, he says, deflects from Israel’s human rights violations and its flouting of international law: Israel seeks to draw a veil over the injustice inflicted upon the Palestinians. Some people accuse even those who protested the war on Iraq of anti-Semitism, he writes.

Finkelstein concludes that for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic Western media play down the true scale of the Israeli repression in the occupied territories. For example, Israel’s systematic house demolitions have rendered many Palestinians homeless; Arab “terrorists” are being subjected to torture. The wall Israel is building in the West Bank with the view to turning the Jewish settlements there into permanent facts on the ground, is likewise in contravention of international law.

In 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were “ethnically cleansed.” For the Zionists, there was no such thing as an Arab culture, Finkelstein says. In his view the Israel-Palestine conflict could in fact be resolved expeditiously: Israel must withdraw from all the [Palestinian] territories occupied in 1967, the West Bank and Gaza; this would pave the way for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Israel should accept the international consensus and stop “displacing and dispossessing” the Palestinians, says Finkelstein. In particular, he concerns himself with the American-Jewish “lobby’s” ideologues who automatically tar every critic of Israeli policy with the “new anti-Semitism” slur. For them, Israel’s interests are sacrosanct.

The “old” anti-Semitism targeted Jews on religious or racist grounds, just because they were Jews, Finkelstein explains. Those warning of a “new” anti-Semitism, however, conflate every statement critical of Israeli policy with hatred of Jews. Invocation of the Nazi genocide is supposed to give Israel a blank check. Some commentators are already demanding that “anti-Semitic” writers be prosecuted.

Finkelstein’s parents were survivors of the Nazi holocaust; he is well aware of the situation Germans find themselves in [when it comes to criticizing Israel]. However, in his view, Germans, too, have an obligation to deplore the wrongs committed by Israel. “Atonement for past crimes can never result in toleration of present crimes,” he insists.

Real anti-Semites will not be happy with Finkelstein’s book. He notes that well-known politicians from the right end of the political spectrum, like Berlusconi and Le Pen, unconditionally support Israel. Finkelstein’s concern is to fight the real anti-Semitism. He warns that, while the motives of the “philo-Semites” may be good, they nonetheless enable Israel to continue on its “murderous path,” which is a boon to the real Jew haters.

Finkelstein vehemently criticizes the writings of the American-Jewish “lobby” which includes many university professors. One entire chapter [sic] of Finkelstein’s book is given over to a discussion of the study The Case for Israel by Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

According to Finkelstein, Berlin’s Center for Research on Anti-Semitism is wrong to claim that hatred of Jews is running rampant in Europe. He says there is no evidence for that.

Again, we are indebted to Finkelstein for providing important information and sharp-witted analyses.

Norman G. Finkelstein, Antisemitismus als politische Waffe: Israel, Amerika und der Mißbrauch der Geschichte. Piper Verlag, Munich 2006, 388 pp., EUR 19.90.

(Translation: Maren Hackmann)


The guy’s got no shame

Editor’s Note: Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote in defense of the Walt-Mearsheimer article, “The Lobby,” against its more strident critics like Dershowitz, who charged them with…plagiarism.



Richard Cohen criticized me for accusing John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt of using quotes that also appear on hate sites. That was not my accusation. I accused the professors of lifting the quotes from anti-Israel Web sites, a serious charge that has not been rebutted.

Mr. Cohen said that Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Wlt “took those quotes” from a book by Max Frankel. I believe they found them on lists of anti-Israel quotations that appear on several Web sites. My proof is
that the quotes are out of context and often make those appear to say the opposite of what they in fact said. On at least one occasion, the quoted material did not accurately reflect the original (Nahum Goldmann’s “The Jewish Paradox”) but mirrored a Web site from which it appeared to have been copied.

I see only two possible explanations: Either the authors were unaware of the context of the quotes because they read only the misleading excerpts ripped out of context by the biased sources in which they found them but which they did not cite, or they decided to misuse the quotes and mislead readers.

My accusation, therefore, is not “guilt by association”; it is guilt by conscious distortion.

ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ

Cambridge, Mass.


Has the Axis of Evil gone berserk?

Editor’s note: Same old, same old. See the Columbia LionPAC / Hillel email, the furor over Santa Cruz and The Real Axis of Evil.

Reader letters here.



“Resolution Disaproving of Hate Speech on Campus”

Page 1 (PDF; 280 KB)

Pages 2 & 3 (PDF; 512 KB)

“Whereas, Norman Finkelstein is associated with the racist ideology known as Holocaust Denial or Holocaust Revisionism, arguiing that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust and especially the number of Holocaust survivors has been exaggerated by a conspiracy of Jewish leaders for financial and political gain;

Whereas, experts in the field have condemned Norman Finkelstein’s book “The Holocaust Industry.” Holocaust expert Omer Bartov, writing in the New York Times, called it juvenile, arrogant, and stupid, and a “novel variation” of the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.” Finkelstein’s mentor, Professor Peter Novick, called it “thrash.” Historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen said that “Finkelstein’s work is, from beginning to end, a tendentious serious of inventions;”

Be it resolved that USAC disapproves in the strongest possible terms the decision of the Muslim Students Association to invite Norman Finkelstein to UCLA, and implores that these groups reconsider their invitation and replace him with a more appropriate speaker.”

Sponsors:
Michelle Sassounian
Ryan Smeets
Brian Neesby



Reader letters

Dear Ms Sassounian,

While an undergrad at UCLA I had the opportunity to meet people of all races and religions, as I am sure you have. I did not always agree with their world outlook, but if I ever did decide to trash someones point of view or credibility, I would like to think that I would have at least investigated the evidence for myself.

As you so politely asked the Muslim Students Association to reconsider their choice of Dr. Finkelstein, I would simply ask you to investigate all that you have heard about him for yourself. Your letter goes on to tear apart the credibility and besmirch the scholarship of Dr. Finkelstein. Perhaps when midterms are over, you could take a look at the documentary record for yourself.

Incidentally, it was your own University of California that published, after rigorous scrutiny, and the threat of law suit, his latest book “Beyond Chutzpah.”

And finally, as an undergrad I bought the official Zionist line. I wish then, someone would have told me to investigate the history for myself as I am now asking you to do.

Your fellow Bruin,

John Costello


It’s there, in the last paragraph

By DAVID ZHOU, Crimson Staff Writer

The College is looking into allegations of plagiarism against novelist Kaavya Viswanathan ’08, but it has not commenced an “investigation” as the news service Bloomberg reported yesterday, a spokesman for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) said yesterday.

“We would need to gather much more information on this situation before we could make any kind of judgment,” FAS director of communications Robert Mitchell said. “Bloomberg decided to call ‘gathering information’ an ‘investigation.’ This is not a term that we have used.”

Yesterday Viswanathan also gave her first public interviews­—to NBC’s Today Show and The New York Times—since The Crimson reported Sunday morning that striking similarities existed between her recently released novel, “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life,” and two books by Megan F. McCafferty.

Viswanathan told Today Show host Katie Couric that she is currently “taking a few days off” from Harvard. She did not indicate whether she would return to campus this semseter.

When Couric asked if she thought Harvard will take punitive action against her, the sophomore novelist responded: “I don’t see why they would. It’s a genuine, genuine mistake.”

In a statement Monday, Viswanthan admitted to borrowing language from McCafferty’s “Sloppy Firsts” and “Second Helpings,” though she said any similarities “were completely unintentional and unconscious.”

Viswanathan told The New York Times yesterday that some of the copying may have occurred because she has a photographic memory and has read McCafferty’s novels three or four times each.

Michael Pietsch ’78, the senior vice president and publisher of Little, Brown—which released “Opal Mehta”—told the Times yesterday that the publishing house would not sue Viswanathan for breach of contract. Most book deals include clauses that the writing must be original, according to Justin Hughes, the director of the intellectual property law program at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law.

But Viswanathan may still face legal action from Random House, which published McCafferty’s novels.

On Tuesday the publishing giant characterized Viswanathan’s explanation for the similarities as “deeply troubling and disingenuous.” And Random House assistant general counsel Min Jung Lee told Little, Brown that his firm is “certain that some literal copying actually occurred,” according to an April 22 letter from Lee obtained by The Crimson.

Pietsch also told the Times that Viswanathan’s advance for her two book deal was less than the previously publicized amount of $500,000—though he did not specify how much the young author received. He also said that the advance was split between Viswanathan and Alloy Entertainment, a book packaging firm that shares the book’s copyright and that helped her “conceptualize and plot the book,” according to Alloy President Leslie Morgenstein.

HERE AT HOME

Assistant Dean of Freshmen James N. Mancall, who is the acting secretary of the Administrative Board while John L. Ellison—an assistant dean of the College—is away this week, declined to comment on whether the Ad Board is looking into the situation. The Ad Board handles College disciplinary matters.

“I cannot confirm anything about a particular student,” said Mancall, adding that “obviously the College takes accusations of plagiarism seriously, and we pay attention to them.”

But the plagiarism policy at the College only applies to material submitted for course credit, Mancall said. “This kind of situation, I don’t believe it’s related to course work.”

[Ellison, in an e-mail early this morning, also wrote that he "cannot comment on a case, potential or otherwise, that might be before the Ad Board."

"Students have a right to privacy on matters involving their educational record and experience," Ellison added.]

‘TODAY’

Viswanathan appeared on NBC’s Today Show yesterday morning with Couric.

“When I was writing, I genuinely believed each word was my own,” the sophomore said on the show.

“I never ever intended to deliberately take any of [McCafferty's] words,” she said.

“Did you refer to the book at all in the process of writing, did you refer to either of her books in the process of writing yours, or have you not opened the cover since you were 14 years old?” Couric asked.

“I mean I read them throughout high school, I’m thinking the last time I read them was my senior year maybe,” Viswanathan said on the show. “But I didn’t bring them to college. I never looked at them while I was writing ‘Opal.’ They’re on my bookshelf at home.”

Later on the show, Viswanathan told Couric: “I’m just really grateful to have this chance to explain what really happened from my perspective, and—”

Couric interrupted, “Some people might say you didn’t really explain it, though.”

“Well, I’ve tried my best, and all I can tell is the truth,” Viswanathan responded.

PAST PLAGIARISM

Controversy over alleged plagiarism is not new at Harvard. In April 2001, Irina Serbanescu ’03 of Quincy House was forced off the staffs of both The Crimson and the Harvard Independent after a reader discovered that Serbanescu included an unattributed 147-word passage lifted from Forbes magazine in a piece for the Independent. The Crimson retracted at least four Arts articles written by Serbanescu in 2000 and 2001. Serbanescu also resigned from her positions at the Harvard International Review and the Harvard Book Review.

The College did not take disciplinary action against Serbanescu, who graduated in 2003. She is currently living in Ontario, Canada, according to a Harvard alumni website.

Three prominent law professors have also faced allegations that they copied from other authors—and received little if any disciplinary action from the University.

In September 2004, Loeb University Professor Laurence H. Tribe ’62 admitted that he did not properly credit another professor’s work in his 1985 book “God Save This Honorable Court.” Allegations of plagiarism were leveled by The Weekly Standard, which wrote that one 19-word passage in Tribe’s book is found verbatim in the 1974 “Justices and Presidents” by Henry J. Abraham. In a statement at the time, Tribe said, “I have immediately written an apology to Professor Abraham, whom I—like so many others—hold in the highest regard.”

Three weeks earlier, Climenko Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree publicly apologized after six paragraphs in his book “All Deliberate Speed” were found to almost mirror passages found in a different work.

In September 2003, a DePaul University professor accused Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz of “wholesale lifting of source material” from another author’s book. Dershowitz defended his book, “The Case for Israel,” and called the allegations “funny.”

—Anton S. Troianovski contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer David Zhou can be reached at dzhou@fas.harvard.edu.


Haaretz reviews Beyond Chutzpah.

Here’s the link to the 04.26.2006 Hebrew version of the review:

http://www.haaretz.co.il


The view from down under

A RECENT academic study on the “Israel lobby” by political scientists John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government has caused a political storm in the US.

Their article was accepted, but then rejected, by The Atlantic Monthly; it was eventually published in the London Review of Books.

The study says that the US has been “willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state” and that the Israel lobby has managed to convince Americans that “US interests and those of Israel are essentially identical”, when they are not.

The authors argue that the Israel lobby has every right to pursue its interests in the political arena and through the media. However, they also note that one of the “most powerful weapons” against honest debate is the perennial accusation of anti-Semitism.

This carefully reasoned study concludes that by blindly supporting Israel’s agenda – a brutal occupation and desire for war against Iraq and Iran – the US has aided an aggressor state in the heart of the Middle East. US support is underpinned by a loose affiliation of journalists, politicians and lobbyists who operate on the assumption that the only language understood by Arabs and Palestinians is force.

The extraordinary reaction to the Mearsheimer-Walt article suggests that the Israel-US relationship is out of bounds. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has labelled the authors bigots and compared their study with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Leading neo-conservative intellectual Eliot Cohen has called the academics “anti-Semitic”. The Anti-Defamation League sees “a classical conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking the canards of Jewish power and Jewish control”.

The American Enterprise Institute’s resident scholar Michael Ledeen argues that the study gave comfort to “Ayman al-Zawahiri and his buddy, the Ayatollah Khamenei”, because it tells the “Big Lie” and is “anti-Semitic in the grand tradition”. He further calls for donors to cease granting funds to the two professors’ university departments. Harvard University has removed its logo from the web version of the study. Overwhelmingly hostile commentary has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The New York Sun, Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, more nuanced responses have appeared in Europe and Israel. The Financial Times in Britain has described the debate on US-Israel relations as overdue and defended the academic thesis. LRB editor Mary-Kay Wilmers told Britain’s The Observer that, being Jewish, she is very alert to anti-Semitism, “and I do not think criticising US foreign policy, or Israel’s way of going about influencing it, is anti-Semitic”.

Daniel Levy, a former prime ministerial adviser in Israel, writes in Haaretz that “defending the occupation has done to the American pro-Israel community what living as an occupier has done to Israel – muddied both its moral compass and its rational self-interest”.

Public debate on the subject is routinely curtailed by intimidation and slander initiated by the Zionist lobby. In a healthy democracy, Israel’s policies should not be immune to criticism. However, this seems to be the status quo: Israel remains a blind spot of the US administration.

Take the example of US Jewish historian Norman Finkelstein. His recent book, Beyond Chutzpah, alleges that Dershowitz lifted some passages in his work The Case for Israel from another book, From Time Immemorial, and challenges the Harvard professor’s claims about Israel’s outstanding human rights record. Dershowitz, well known in the US as a fighter for human rights, attempted to prevent publication of the book, even urging California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to intervene and demand that Finkelstein’s publisher, the University of California Press, abandon the project. This supposed free-speech advocate appears to believe some subjects are beyond debate.

The situation in Britain is more enlightened. In mid-2004, 347 British Jews wrote to the Board of Deputies of British Jews and said the time had come to “distinguish the interests of the community in Britain from the policies adopted by Israeli governments. These issues must be brought into the open. Silence discredits us all.” Mearsheimer and Walt are merely calling for an appraisal of a key US relationship that has remained a no-go zone for too long.

An Israel lobby also exists in Australia, though it is far less influential than its US counterpart. The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council claims to represent the interests of the Jewish community in Australia and maintains strong ties with the Labor and Liberal parties. Its executive director Colin Rubenstein explained in 2003 that there is an “affinity between Australia and Israel, almost an overlapping destiny”. As a strong advocate of the Iraq war, Guantanamo Bay and military strikes against Iran, AIJAC’s agenda has dovetailed seamlessly with the Howard Government’s views, especially since September 11, 2001.

AIJAC funds a travel program to send journalists and politicians to Israel in an attempt to rectify the influence of “the biased media or the agendas run by hard-left organisations”, according to program representative Yosi Tal. Deviating from the accepted view results in pressure on editors and political leaders to knock dissenters into line.

For example, during 2002 and 2003 the ALP experienced the consequences of dissenting from the AIJAC view. A handful of backbenchers questioned Israeli policy in the occupied territories. A raft of Jewish leaders slammed the party as anti-Semitic. Liberal MP Christopher Pyne, as chairman of the Australia-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, told ABC Radio that a motion put forward by MP Julia Irwin – damning the occupation and calling for a secure Israel and Palestine – was “pandering to the pro-Palestinian position”.

It would appear that even the mild proposition that the Palestinian people should have the right of self-determination is taboo. To those less blinkered, it would seem obvious that peace will never be achieved in the Middle East without mutual understanding. Unilateralism is no substitute for this necessary process. This truism has been accepted as a given, as the recent elections in Israel make clear. But the realpolitik that has made disengagement possible in Israel has no place in the feverish anxiety this issue raises in the diaspora.

For those who seek a just and peaceful solution to problems in the Middle East, it is disheartening to witness the attack on a reasoned paper analysing the US-Israel relationship. Beyond the vilification of the two distinguished US academics lies the more disturbing question of why a healthy democracy fears a frank analysis. It would be an indication of an ailing democracy if interest groups prevailed in the public sphere.

Antony Loewenstein is author of My Israel Question, to be released in August by Melbourne University Publishing.


A Princeton undergrad rebukes a Harvard dean

From: “Danilo Mandic” dmandic[at]Princeton.edu

To: ekagan[at]law.harvard.edu
CC: normangf[at]hotmail.com
Subject: A Demand for Censuring Alan Dershowitz
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 00:12:13 -0400

To: Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan

Dean Kagan,

I’m writing to strongly encourage you to take immediate action against
Alan Dershowitz’s scandalous plagiarism and misrepresentation of fact in his
book “The Case for Israel.” It has come to my attention through Norman
Finkelstein’s exposure of it, but I have personally compared Joan
Peters’ “From Time Immemorial” and Dershowitz’s book to conclude that
Finkelstein’s findings are indeed correct.

I’m an undergraduate in the Sociology Department at Princeton
University and can testify that, had I engaged in a fraction of Dershowitz’s
plagiarism, I would be unconditionally expelled. Dershowitz violates the most basic
tenets of academic integrity, as defined by Honor Committees and Codes of
Academic Conduct at Princeton and other Ivy League institutions. The fact that he has received no censure for his academic malpractice (and the subsequent campaign of slander against Finkelstein) is stunning.

Though it should be obvious, I would like to note that my judgement has nothing to do with my own views on Israel, Harvard or Alan Dershowitz personally. It has even less to do with Norman Finkelstein’s views (with which I myself often disagree – especially his review of Jan T. Gross’s book ‘Neighbors’). In this specific matter, Finkelstein is absolutely right to demand Dershowitz’s resignation on the basis of his findings. It is exclusively an issue of proper academic standards, which you are responsible to enforce at Harvard Law School. If you fail to do so, it’s not only a shame on your institution, but on academia in the US in general.

Danilo Mandic
Princeton University


A day in the life of the Hashhash family

Editor’s note: Finkelstein’s book Beyond Chutzpah was dedicated to his close friend and comrade Musa Abu Hashhash.



By Gideon Levy

Her mouth is closed, sealed, locked. Her words are filtered through clamped jaws. She is 9 years old, a third-grader. Sometimes a transparent tear rolls down her swollen cheek. A rubber-coated bullet shot from medium range, which penetrated her mouth on the right side two weeks ago, shattered her jaw. A minor story. There are 11 fatherless children at home, Nasarin is the youngest, they have had no income for the past six years, they are not on anyone’s social agenda. And now this injury and the splintered jaw.

There are no dead people in this story, and it is almost certain that little Nasarin Abu Hashhash will recover from her injury. Then she will return to her home in the Al-Fawar refugee camp, south of Hebron, to the house that her father began to build with the compensation money he received from the Polgat textile firm in Kiryat Gat, where he worked for 17 years as a tailor until he was fired, along with all the workers from the territories at the plant. He didn’t manage to complete the construction of the house, and it stands half built, without a floor and with second-hand doors. A short time after his dismissal, the father died at an early age, leaving 12 souls in the house, whom nobody can support.

The mother didn’t even have money for a taxi to transfer the injured girl from one hospital to another in Hebron, until the child was finally transferred to the children’s ward in Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem.

This is a little story about a little girl, orphaned and poor, who peered out from the door of her home into the street, at a time when the Israel Defense Forces came to capture wanted men and the children were throwing stones at the soldiers. A rubber bullet fired by the soldiers at the stone-throwers hit her jaw and shattered it.

The house awoke to the sound of shooting from the street. On a Tuesday two weeks ago, toward morning, a large IDF force came to capture two wanted men in the camp, Mohammed Shawabkeh and Sari Abu Hashhash, who is a relative of the little girl and lives near her. Nasarin remembers that she wanted to eat an apple for breakfast, but her big sister reprimanded her, “Aren’t you thinking about what is happening outside? This is not the time to eat,” and the embarrassed girl returned the half-eaten apple to her mother. Afterward she went up to the roof of the house to see what was going on. She saw soldiers in the street, and quickly fled back into the house. Such is the morning of the children of the refugee camps.

Through the window she asked her neighbor Assil, her classmate, whether there was school that day, and Assil replied in the negative; it is a free day, the IDF is in the area. In the street the schoolchildren threw stones at the soldiers.

A few hours earlier, at the end of the night watch, the soldiers had entered the camp and surrounded the home of Sari Abu Hashhash. They called to him on the megaphone to turn himself in. Abu Hashhash was in the house, and when he didn’t come out the soldiers threatened to destroy the house with him in it. After a short time, however, he surrendered, came out and was taken to be interrogated by the Shin Bet security services. He is 28 years old and his brother Musa is a researcher for the B’Tselem human rights group in the Hebron area.

The soldiers searched for the second wanted man, but didn’t find him. Instead they arrested his wife, who had given birth to their son only 10 days earlier. The infant remained in the house. Her sister tried to explain to the soldiers that the baby was nursing and that he couldn’t be left alone, but they insisted. The uncle, Faiz Abu Hashhash, threatened to leave the baby on the road, until the soldiers finally agreed to let him join his mother, who was being detained in a Jeep parked next to the checkpoint at the entrance to the camp.

Nasarin wanted to look outside to see what was happening in the street. She opened the door, and leaned her head in the direction of the tumultuous street. “I didn’t even have a chance to look,” she says through her closed teeth, “and the bullet hit me.” Her mother’s cousin, Faiz, who was at home − he takes care of the children like a father, although he also has 10 children − suddenly heard the child’s screams. He says that she was hysterical, running back and forth in panic, holding her bleeding cheek, until she suddenly fell silent.

Faiz carried his little cousin in his arms and rushed to the roof, from which he hoped to evacuate her via the back exit of the house, so as not to take the chance of going out into the street. The soldiers arrived immediately as well, and ordered him to place the child on the ground and to take off his coat, which looked to them like a military coat. “I told the soldier: Look at the child, not at my coat,” recalls Faiz. Afterward they got onto the main road and a military Jeep picked up Nasarin.

According to Faiz, the Jeep was delayed for quite a while, because the soldiers would not allow Faiz or his brother, Mahmoud, to ride with the girl. In the end, Mahmoud got in anyway, and rode with the injured child on his knees, in the direction of the exit from the camp. Nasarin was conscious the entire time. She says that during the ride in the Jeep, the soldier fired above Mahmoud’s head at the stone-throwing children, and even hit her cousin.

The IDF spokesman: “On Tuesday, March 28, during a planned operational activity to arrest wanted men in the Al-Fawar refugee camp south of Hebron, a violent public disturbance developed, which included massive stone-throwing at the IDF force that was present. The force responded with means for breaking up demonstrations, at which time the Palestinian girl was apparently hit by a rubber bullet. When her injury was discovered, she was transferred to route 60 in the vehicle of the battalion commander and accompanied by him. During the transfer of the girl to the military vehicle, many members of her family asked to join her, and a large number of people gathered there. In the end, one family member was allowed to accompany her. In this connection it should be noted that there was no incident of violence.

“At the same time, vehicles of the Magen David Adom and the Red Crescent were called in order to give the child medical treatment. When the Red Crescent ambulance arrived, the child was evacuated for continued medical treatment. It should be noted that during the course of the activity, a wanted man was arrested, an arms merchant who is active in Tanzim.”

Regarding the claims of separating a woman from her infant, the IDF spokesman says: “When the force arrived at the home of one of the wanted men in order to arrest him, the wanted man was absent, and his wife was taken for interrogation. When she refused to take her infant with her, she handed him over to a relative. Later on, because of the massive stone throwing, the force accompanied the family vehicle that was carrying the woman’s infant to the place where she was staying, so that she could nurse him.”

Near the checkpoint, Nasarin was transferred to a military ambulance, where she received treatment. There was a plan to evacuate her to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, but in the end she was transferred for some reason to a Palestinian ambulance that took her to the Al Ahli Hospital in Hebron. The story of the tribulations of the injured Nasarin had just begun. At Al Ahli they didn’t know what to do with the child’s jaw, and suggested transferring her to the Al-Mizan Hospital in the city. Perhaps there was a mouth and jaw specialist there. Faiz, who arrived in Hebron meanwhile, took her in a taxi, after the Palestinians could not find an ambulance to take her to Al-Mizan free of charge. At Al-Mizan they demanded a preliminary payment of NIS 1,000, and he decided to bring her back to Al Ahli. He put her on a bed in the emergency room, and told the doctors: Do whatever you want with her. The doctors told him again that they did not have a specialist, and therefore he had to take her to the Alia Hospital in the city.

At Alia they examined her and said that she needed a private specialist. The doctor lives in Bethlehem. It was already evening. The doctor arrived from his home after two hours, examined the child and determined that she had 12 fractures in her jaw, and that he couldn’t operate on her. Her jaws had to be locked in a special device for two months, and then they had to wait, he said. That same night Faiz bought the device for NIS 200. At night a woman named Yael from B’Tselem called, and asked if they needed help. Nasarin was locked into the device, drooling and crying.

The next day, Faiz ran around endless in order to transfer his cousin to an Israeli hospital. Once, on the eve of the millennium, we had met him in his home in Al-Fawar: At the time he was very tense before the Arab world’s lotto drawing; $2.5 million was the main prize. What happened? “I was only four numbers away from the winner in Lebanon,” he said this week.

Last Thursday he was busy with going back and forth between the Palestinian health ministry, whose people had to provide the financial commitment for hospitalizing his cousin in Israel ?(the director was in Gaza just at that time?), and the Israeli liais office, in order to organize exit permits for the child’s mother and for himself, so that they could accompany Nasarin to Jerusalem.

Only the intervention of the members of B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights finally led to the orderly transfer of Nasarin to Hadassah hospital. In between, Faiz was forced to have another argument with the people at the Palestinian hospital over the ambulance. Only after he had threatened to put Nasarin on the roof of the taxi and to ride through the city streets with her that way was the ambulance found, and the child was taken in the direction of the tunnel checkpoint, where an Israeli ambulance was already waiting.

In the Hadassah emergency room they told Faiz to throw away the device that he had bought at the recommendation of the specialist from Bethlehem, and after a series of tests Nasarin was taken that Friday, two days after her injury, to the operating room. On Sunday, when we came to see her in the children’s surgical ward, she was already busy doing arts and crafts in the playroom of the hospital, together with other children. In the family room, her mother, Hikmat Abu Hashhash, was waiting, with tears running down her face. “Our mouths are as full of song as the sea,” it says on the clock in the family room.

Nasarin managed to say through her closed mouth that she misses everyone, and particularly her big sister, Wisal, the one who told her not to eat the apple, with all that was happening outside.on