Monday, June 11, 2007
Insightful. It was not only necessary that DePaul deny tenure, but that it do so by legitimizing Dershowitz's objections. Anything less would not have achieved Dershowitz's broader purpose of intimidating US universitites in regard to anti-Zionist scholarship.
Did you notice that the language that was used by the president of DePaul University to deny tenure to Norman Finkelstein was the same language used by Alan Dershowitz?
ORIGINAL POST: Utterly and sadly predictable, I guess, but I still remain rather shocked that DePaul University allows a psuedo-intellectual bully like Alan Dershowitz to make decisions for it about the composition of its faculty. Apparently, DePaul administrators and faculty lacked the backbone displayed by Governor Schwarzenegger and the University of California Press when Dershowitz covertly attempted to stop publication of Finkelstein's most recent book.
Why is this episode so important beyond the personal academic career of Finkelstein? Let's go back to the statement issued in support of Finkelstein by the Scholars, Teachers, and Professionals for Intellectual Freedom In Support of Dr. Norman Finkelstein:
Dershowitz creates the impression that his hostility to Finkelstein is personal, based upon Finkelstein's debunking of his work, but, as this quote indicates, his motivations require a much larger canvas to display. He aspires to nothing less than intimidating academia into refusing to permit anti-Zionist scholars like Finkelstein to participate in its environment of intellectual freedom and free ranging inquiry. To its great shame, DePaul has provided Dershowitz with a great victory, one that he will regrettably put to good use as he moves along to his next target.
We know that any teaching and writing about culture, and politics can seem controversial. This is especially so in fields such as Latin American studies, women’s studies, ethnic studies, and Middle Eastern studies. In such areas of intense debate, a polemical tone is not unusual, and does not discredit the underlying scholarship. Tenure exists precisely to allow scholars the pursuit of candid intellectual inquiry, even the most controversial fields, without fear of retribution. To challenge the status quo of Zionist historiography in the U.S., as Finkelstein has done in his scholarship, most certainly ignites controversy; but his ability to address the subject with thorough documented evidence that encourages readers to see the subject of Palestine and Israel anew is precisely why scholars around the world value his work. While researchers—like diplomats and heads of state—cannot avoid appearing polemical given the highly charged nature of fields such as Dr. Finkelstein’s, it is imperative that we protect the right of research scholars and teachers to work in this field unhindered by fears of retribution.
Labels: Norman Finkelstein