“Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results…” American Association of University Professors, “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.”
The DePaul University Department of Political Science Personnel Committee closely examined whether charges of academic misconduct and dishonesty directed against Assistant Professor of Political Science Norman G. Finkelstein were valid. Alan M. Dershowitz, Frankfurter Professor of Law, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen et al., whose scholarship had been critiqued and challenged in books written by Professor Finkelstein, responded with efforts to either deny him tenure or to undermine his credibility as a scholar. The passions of scholarly debate are usually confined to subject matter; in this instance they have extended into efforts to penetrate into the sovereignty of a university’s application of due process and peer review in a tenure and promotion case. The Department of Political Science Personnel Committee in the following report comprehensively and judiciously examined and rejected, by a unanimous vote of 4-0, these blatant attempts to marginalise and subvert critical thinking at DePaul University. The committee did not endorse disparaging non-canonical scholarship on the Israel-Palestine dispute and silencing those who claim there has been a politicisation of the holocaust.
To: Department of Political Science
From: PSC Personnel Committee
November 1, 2006
On October 3, 2006, a member of the political science faculty forwarded to members of the Personnel Committee materials solicited from Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School. Dershowitz has repeatedly accused Professor Norman Finkelstein, presently under consideration for tenure and promotion, of academic misconduct. Acting as an individual member of the faculty, the professor requested evidence supporting such charges, and requested that the Personnel Committee review the submission on behalf of the department. If the Committee elected not to review the Dershowitz materials, the professor indicated that he would bring the materials to the full department at the November meeting devoted to promotion and tenure matters.
After discussing the matter among its members, and after conversations with the university’s General Counsel, the Committee decided to examine the Dershowitz material to see whether it provides evidence of academic misconduct. This was not a decision we took lightly; indeed, it represented a departure from our initial desire to keep unsolicitied material from entering our deliberations, trusting instead the processes of external and departmental review that have served us well over the years. Ultimately we decided that, given the likelihood that the Dershowitz material (well over 50 pages in length) would be brought to the full department late in the autumn quarter, all parties – Professor Finkelstein, our department, and the university – would be better served by a review conducted by the Personnel Committee.
Having accepted this task, the Committee soon discovered a few matters of relevance. First, the university’s policy statements on academic or research misconduct have been under revision for the past several years, with no clear definitions, policies, or procedures now in place. Kelly Johnson, Assistant Vicc-President for Academic Administration, attempted to find a current policy presently in place but her search was inconclusive (e-mail correspondence, October 12, 2006). The Faculty Handbook. in its section on `Faculty Rights and Responsibilities,’ offers some guidelines that fall short of definitions (e.g., faculty are to “practice intellectual honesty, to acknowledge academic debts to others” and “to be accurate in making public statements”); some of this section deals with matters of professional etiquette rather than delineation of what constitutes academic dishonesty or misconduct (e.g., “be mindful that in making [public] statements the public may judge the faculty member’s profession and institution from these statements”).
Given the need for a working definition of academic misconduct and the serious nature of the allegations in question, the Committee found itself in accord with the definition of Research Misconduct incorporated in the draft materials now under consideration by the Faculty Council. While not yet of a binding nature, this document provided a common orientation to guide us in this process, which is without precedent in our personnel deliberations but not precluded by departmental, college or university rules on promotion and tenure review.
The draft policy defines research misconduct as:
Fabrication, Falsification, or Plagarism in proposing,performing, or reviewing research results. Research Misconduct is intentional, knowing or reckless conduct that seriously deviates from practices commonly accepted within the scientific or academic community. Actions that qualify as Research Misconduct include, but are not limited to, l) making up data or results; 2) manipulating research processes or data such that the research is not accurately represented or recorded; and 3) appropriating another’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.
Research Misconduct does not include
(1) honest error or
(2) differences in opinion, interpretations, or judgments of data.
Were a formal charge of academic misconduct to be filed against a DePaul faculty member, obviously such a matter would not be presented to a departmental personnel committee. The work of this Committee in the present instance should not be construed as definitive, nor as a substitute for a more comprehensive process in which the procedural rights and responsibilities of all parties would be engaged fully. Given our responsibility to conduct on behalf of the department a full review of the credentials of persons seeking promotion and tenure, we devised a procedure that would serve as a starting point for individual faculty members as they deliberate on the application before them.
The Dershowitz material (enclosed with this report) is a compilation of documents. These materials came to us in two general collections: one, a “Speaking Packet,” with the title “The Committee to Expose Norman Finkelstein’s Close Connections to Neo-Nazism, Holocaust Denial, and His “Big Lie” of an “International Jewish Conspiracy,” runs to 36 manuscript pages. Its section headings are “The 10 Nuttiest Things “The Nutty Assistant Professor” Has Said,” “The 10 Most Devastating Things People Have Said About Finkelstein,” “The 10 Most Despicable Things Finkelstein Has Said About Others,” and “The 10 Biggest Lies Finkelstein Has Been Caught Telling.” This packet concludes with Dershowitz’s written reply to Beyond Chutzpah, Finkelstein’s book that alleges that Dershowitz committed systematic plagarism in his own writing.
The other group of materials submitted consists of a seven-page letter from Dershowitz written to the DePaul professor who requested evidence related to the allegations; an additional 11 manuscript pages follow, consisting of critiques of Finkelstein written by other scholars (Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Peter Novick, and Omer Bartov).
At the outset, it must be noted that the materials presented as evidence vary wildly in terms of quality, tone and subject matter. Much of it presents statements allegedly made by Finkelstein with little or no detail regarding context, some are constructed with ellipses of unknown character, and many are frankly ideological or ad hominem in nature.
After reading the materials, the Committee decided upon the following approach: we would review only those allegations that asserted academic misconduct that could be verified by reference to published scholarly materials; due to the impossibility of exploring matters of context and the greater likelihood of human error in oral presentations (as well as the logistical difficulties in verifying the accuracy of claims regarding who said what, the use of sarcasm or rhetorical exaggeration, and more) we excluded matters derived from oral presentations. Not only does the scholarly material lend itself more directly to comparative analysis, it also carries a higher responsibility for scholarly integrity given its status as material produced by processes of reflection and review.
Out of the 50-plus pages of material submitted by Dershowitz, the Committee identified six points to explore alleging that Finkelstein committed acts of academic dishonesty in his scholarly materials. Three of these come from the review written by Goldhagen; one from the review by Novick; and two from “Response to Beyond Chutzpah.” To make the task manageable, given the limited time and resources at our disposal, we limited ourselves to two major claims Dershowitz advances in this latter essay (which appears also as Chapter 16 in Dershowitz’s The Case for Peace). In addition, in an Appendix we take up two allegations from Dershowitz’s cover letter that do not fully meet our criteria but which nonetheless impinge upon the written record in a verifiable fashion.
For your convenience, we have highlighted the relevant sections in the printed version of the Dershowitz documents. We requested that Professor Finkelstein respond to these specific claims, and we invited him to respond to the larger collection of Dershowitz materials however he chose. Finkelstein noted that he has responded to these charges many times in writing in the past, and he provided the committee three documents that contain his rejoinders to these specific charges (these are included in this report). He declined the opportunity to offer a larger response to the Dershowitz material because he found it to be without academic merit.
The Personnel Committee’s Findings
1. Dershowitz claims that Finkelstein willfully misrepresents Dershowitz’ view on collective punishment – in this case the destruction of homes of suicide bombers and their families -on page 176 of Finkelstein’s book Beyond Chutzpah. [See `Example 1' in "Response to Beyond Chutzpah '7 Finkelstein compares Dershowitz's recommendations to the Nazi punitive destruction of Lidice during World War II.
The Committee compared the text of Dershowitz's Why Terrorism Works with the relevant section in Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah.
This dispute focuses on whether the practice of house demolition, in which the building where a suicide bomber has been living is bulldozed, constitutes a morally and legally acceptable form of collective punishment. Finkelstein takes a position of principled opposition to collective punishment and finds support for this stance in international law and the conclusions of major human rights organizations. Dershowitz, while repudiating certain extreme forms of collective punishment, advances the case for specific uses of this approach as a deterrent to suicide bombings. Arguing that sweeping community support for a terrorist attack makes that community to some degree morally complicit, he endorses a measure of collective punishment that is proportionate to the community's share of responsibility (i.e., "a mild form of collective accountability without violating the principle that people should be punished proportionately to their personal culpability" [p. 119].)
Dershowitz takes this argument a step further when he constructs a controversial recommendation about how the Israeli government could use a new demolition tactic to more effectively deter to suicide bombings. He writes,
Israel’s first step in implementing this policy would be to completely stop all retaliation against terrorist attacks for five days. It would then publicly declare precisely how it will respond in the event of another terrorist act, such as by destroying empty houses in a particular village that has been used as a base for terrorists, and naming that village in advanced. The next time terrorists attack, the village’s residents would be given twenty-four hours to leave, and then Israeli troops would bulldoze the houses (p. 177)
Dershowitz goes on to note that “[t]here is something seriously troubling, of course, about bulldozing an entire village, even if its residents have been evacuated” (p. 177). Yet he defends this policy as justified by the widespread support for terrorism among the Palestinian population (“by encouraging suicide bombers in this way, Palestinians share culpability for the murder of civilians” p. 177).
Responding to Dershowitz’s policy of combining deterrence and punishment in strategic village demolition, Finkelstein draws a parallel to the destruction of Lidice, a Czech town in which the Nazis, retaliating for the assassination of a Nazi officer, shot males over the age of 15 and sent the remaining villagers to concentration camps. He remarked, “It is hard to make out any difference between the policy Dershowitz advocates and the Nazi destruction of Lidice, for which he expresses abhorrence—except that Jews, not Germans, would be implementing it” (p. 176).
Although the two cases share the phenomenon of village elimination as a form of collective punishment, there obviously are differences (mass murder vs. extensive property loss) that go well beyond the actor in charge. In this, Finkelstein overstates the parallel. Because the analogy is not closely calibrated, it weakens rather than strengthens his argument and opens this section of his work to criticism.
Yet some of the difference in perspective on the appropriateness of this comparison (which Dershowitz labels “obscene and mendacious”), appears to result from Dershowitz taking a best case scenario and Finkelstein taking the opposite. In his complaint to the department, Dershowitz describes his recommendation in this way:
My proposal involved the destruction of a few empty houses that had been used to harbor terrorists. All residents would first be removed and housed elsewhere. No human beings would be harmed.
Although the description of village targeting and bulldozing presented in the book seems rather more intense than this “few empty houses” reference implies, he is right to note that he repeatedly referred to the demolition of “empty” homes. Yet it may be easier to state categorically that “[n]o human beings would be harmed” in a policy proposal than in the messier world of human conflict. Finkelstein, in contrast, imagines the worst. Dershowitz quotes him as characterizing the village bulldozing as “the Lidice-style annihilation of the village [with] its inhabitants as well if they don’t leave after 24 hours.” I In his image, the residents are not “removed and housed elsewhere” but somehow remain. This raises the question of whether it would be possible to avoid the loss of life if residents don’t vacate within the time allowed. Contrasting assumptions about how the policy might unfold on the ground can lead to different images of the possible consequences. The Dershowitz proposal which, if poorly implemented, could lead to a loss of life, is still quite different from the Lidice case, where the killing was massive and intentional.
Norman Finkelstein, “Alleged Errors in Beyond Chutzpah.” The Official Website of Norman Finkelstein, accessible at http:/lwww.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=I I&ar=53 as quoted in the packet of documents forwarded by Dershowitz to the department.
Finally, although Finkelstein is deeply critical of Dershowitz’s form of moral reasoning and his specific recommendations in the Israeli-Palestinian case, he does acknowledge Dershowitz’s rejection of direct punishment of the innocent, and quotes Dershowitz’s statement: “Notwithstanding the effectiveness of this extreme form of collective punishment, we are morally constrained-and legally prohibited from imposing it” (p. 119). Finkelstein’s claim seems to be not that Dershowitz directly advocates killing the innocent but that the death and injury of innocents would be a likely outcome of his recommendations. Scholars may have legitimate disagreements about how to predict the outcome of hypotheticals.
Finkelstein may overstate the similarities of the two cases, but this is not obviously an example of academic misconduct – it may be more appropriately seen as a weak or overstated argument.
2. In his second example of Finkelstein’s supposed misrepresentations, Dershowitz states the following:
Finkelstein claims that I advocate “the application of `excruciating’ torture on suspected terrorists….”2 Again, he simply makes this up. 1 oppose torture.
This case is not that simple. Dershowitz is correct that his support for the use of torture is highly qualified (i.e., that it be non-lethal, used in the proverbial “ticking bomb” terrorist cases, with the issuance of a “torture warrant” to ensure transparency and accountability, etc.) (see Chapter 4, Why Terrorism Works). He does, however, accept the use of torture and even describes, in painful detail, the kind that might be acceptable (including “the sterilized needle being shoved under the fingernails…” Why Terrorism Works, p. 148). In the process, he opens himself to criticism by analysts who categorically oppose its use. This seems to be the essence of the dispute here. The battle between “principled moralists” and “ethical realists” is long-standing and legitimate.
Stripping away nuance and qualification to reduce an argument to its basic elements does not, perhaps, produce the finest version of academic give-and-take. It is, however, a common and even necessary process. In quantitative analysis it is a virtual prerequisite; only this reductionist process allows the argument to be represented as a mathematical model. Even in qualitative analysis, skeletal versions of an argument are often pitted against each other, with nuance removed in order to highlight disjuncture. In this sense, Finkelstein’s swift stroke rendition of an opposing argument does not violate academic norms. The question is not, therefore, whether Finkelstein captures all the ways in which an argument is qualified but whether he intentionally misrepresents the essence of an
2 Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah, p. 223.
argument made in his source material. The committee did not find evidence to support a charge of intentional misrepresentation.
3. In the first of the Goldhagen claims explored, Goldhagen claims that Finkelstein willfully presents Goldhagen’s quote from another source (historian James Harris, author of The People Speak! Anti-Semitism and Emancipation in Nineteenth-Century Bavaria) as being Goldhagen’s own words. Doing so, Goldhagen claims, enables Finkelstein to distort Goldhagen’s argument and misrepresent Harris’ book in order to criticize Goldhagen’s argument on the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism in the pre-Nazi years. As evidence of academic dishonesty on Finkelstein’s part, Goldhagen points to revisions made after the initial appearance of Finkelstein’s argument in a journal article and its subsequent publication in book form (A Nation on Trial, co-authored with Ruth Bettina Birn).
This is a complicated charge, involving quotations of quotations, footnotes to other sources, and an early version of Finkelstein’s critique of Goldhagen (‘`Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s `Crazy’ Thesis: A Critique of Hitler’s Willing Executioners’and a later one (A Nation on Trial).
The Committee examined the sections Goldhagen references in his own work. the sections cited from 1-larris, and Finkelstein’s use of such in the early and revised critiques of Goldhagen’s argument concerning endemic and widespread anti-Semitism in Germany before the Nazi years. What presents itself here, in our view, is an irresolvable conflict of interpretations, both of individual phrases (and even single words) as well as the larger arguments and claims advanced .Where Goldhagen asserts that Finkelstein attributes Harris’ words to Goldhagen, we see that Finkelstein in fact writes that `Goldhagen recalls a `spontaneous, extremely broad-based, and genuine’ petition campaign in Bavaria opposing the full equality of the Jews.” The phrase in question `spontaneous, extremely broad-based, and genuine’ is Harris’ phrase, used by Goldhagen on the page footnoted in Goldhagen’s book. Finkelstein’s use of the verb `recalls’ can be construed to mean that in this case Goldhagen has drawn on another source. Potential confusion could have been avoided had Finkelstein made note of the Harris source quoted by Goldhagen.
It appears to us that Finkelstein attempts to remove such confusion in the revised version of this article that appears in A Nation on Trial. In that, Finkelstein notes that Goldhagen quotes a “scholarly study” on the matter, and then proceeds to his dispute with Goldhagen about the substantive issues. While Goldhagen sees this revision as evidence of academic misconduct, we are not persuaded; revisions for clarity and improvement are routine in the scholarly literature, and do not constitute prima facie evidence of dishonesty or concealment of evidence of such.
4. Goldhagen’s second allegation of academic dishonesty concerns whether Finkelstein willfully neglected qualifiers Goldhagen employs in arguing for the popularity of anti-Jewish agitation and activities in 1930s Germany. In a specific point of contention about posting anti-Jewish signs in Germany (pp. 91-2 of Goldhagen’s book Hitler’s Willing
Executioners), Goldhagen claims that his nuanced position that identifies both Nazi activists and `everyday’ Germans as participating in such is flattened by Finkelstein’s decision to quote Goldhagen as writing “Germans posted signs” (p. 91), and then criticize Goldhagen for making an overly broad assignment of responsibility for what was done primarily by the Nazi regime and party activists.
We examined the sections in question, as well as the sections of Goldhagen’s argument discussing state, party and popular anti-Semitism in the years 1933-35 (pp. 90-3). Finkelstein did quote Goldhagen accurately, and Goldhagen does offer some language that suggests a leading role for state and Nazi party activists in fomenting anti-Jewish activities. Goldhagen’s text, however, is qualified in such a way as to leave the reader free to infer that he is casting a net of responsibility that goes far beyond Nazi party members in and out of government (indeed, such is the main thesis of the book). The section at issue concludes with a statement that public defamation and humiliation of Jews “expressed the Germans’ eliminationist intent” (p.93). It seems to us that this instance reflects Finkelstein ignoring qualifiers that Goldhagen himself invites the reader to ignore (having included them only to cover himself from a charge of overgeneralization, only to overgeneralize a few pages later); while other interpretations seem possible, none would appear to merit an accusation of academic misconduct.
5. Goldhagen claims that Finkelstein falsifies evidence regarding Goldhagen’s use of a source (a multivolume compilation of Hitler’s speeches with an introduction by Max Domarus). Goldhagen charges that Finkelstein willfully misrepresents Goldhagen’s views with reference to those of Domarus in order to criticize Goldhagen for having misused his source material. Specifically, Goldhagen claims that Finkelstein accuses Goldhagen of citing Domarus as supporting Goldhagen’s interpretation on a specific point, whereas Goldhagen notes that he and Domarus disagree on it. Goldhagen claims that Finkelstein ignores his reference to Vol. 1, p. 37 of Domarus’ work, concentrating and deliberately confusing Goldhagen’s point that refers to Vol. 1, p. 41 in Domarus.
We examined the relevant sections in Goldhagen (p. 8), the sections in Finkelstein’s work, and the cited sections of Domarus’ first volume. Goldhagen cites p. 41 of Domarus to support Goldhagen’s claim that the mass slaughter of Jews in Germany was widely known by millions, and that “Hitler announced many times, emphatically, that the war would end with the extermination of the Jews (p. 8).” The page in Domarus cited in support of this contains three brief quotations from speeches Hitler gave between 1933 and 1941 – with two of these quotations referring back to another Hitler address, on September 1, 1939, to the German Reichstag. Domarus, for his part, believes that Hitler was not given to publicizing his desire to exterminate the Jews because such “was certain to meet with resistance from the majority of the German people and the bulk of his party followers” (Vol. I, p. 37).
Goldhagen uses two quotes from 1941 speeches as an example of Hitler publicly proclaiming the elimination of the Jews as part of the German war effort to come – at least, that is how we interpret Goldhagen on this point. The speeches referenced,
however, could easily be interpreted as a prediction of what might happen rather than as a proclamation of German war aims. The two quotations are as follows:
I would not like to forget the point I made previously on September 1, 1939 before the German Reichstag. That is, if the Jews should succeed in plunging the rest of the world into a world war, then the entire Jewish race will have played out its role in Europe.
I predicted on September I, 1939 before the German Reichstag – and I am careful to refrain from rash prophesies – that this war will not end the way the Jews would have it, namely with the extermination of all European and Aryan peoples, but the result of this war will be the annihilation of the Jewish race.
Obviously, a single quotation proves nothing about whether and to what degree Hitler’s desire to destroy the Jewish people was widely known and supported in Germany before its implementation – that is precisely the point at issue in Goldhagen’s work and those of many other scholars of the period.
As to whether Finkelstein charges Goldhagen with claiming false support from Domarus, the section of Finkelstein’s article in question (p. 53) does not seem so clear – nowhere does Finkelstein make such a claim. Rather, he juxtaposes a quote from Goldhagen (part of which we quote above, from page 8 of Hitler’s Willing Executioners) with the one-line statement: “The endnote [in Goldhagen] refers readers to Max Domarus”, which is true. Contrary to Goldhagen’s assertion that Finkelstein does not refer to p. 37 of Domarus, we found such a citation in footnote 34 in Finkelstein’s article, where the dispute over Goldhagen, Domarus and Finkelstein is centered.
On this point, it is far from obvious that Finkelstein misrepresented Goldhagen’s views in the way that Goldhagen suggests, nor that he willfully misidentified Domarus as agreeing with Goldhagen on the point in question. We do not find this charge to be substantiated by our reading of the materials cited.
6. Peter Novick claims that Finkelstein makes a knowingly false statement that the World Jewish Congress had received $7 billion in compensation money from claims related to compensation of Holocaust survivors from Swiss banks and other sources. Novick claims that Finkelstein makes this statement in his book The Holocaust Industry even while knowing that the WJC had not received such funds.
The issue revolves around the question of whether or not the WJC had “amassed no less than `roughly 7 billion’ in compensation monies” (Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry, p. 108) or whether WJC was simply “holding discussions about how such monies might be distributed if and when they received it.” (Novick review, `Offene Fenster and Tueren,’ Sueddeutsche Zeitung, February 7, 2001). Novick claims that this is not just carelessness” but “deliberate deception” since Finkelstein “knew when he wrote the book that the WJC had not received any such funds” (Novick, “Offene Fenster and Tueren”).
The evidence that Finkelstein cites to support his claim is an article entitled “Holocaust-Konferenz in Stockholm” in the January 25, 2000 edition of the Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung (a major newspaper in Germany).” Since none of the Personnel Committee members has professional-quality German translation skills, we commissioned Professor Claudia Fritsch from DePaul’s Department of Modern Languages to translate the article from German into English. Both the original article and her translation are enclosed.
According to the article, a group of government officials (including heads of state from Israel, Germany, Poland and other countries), Holocaust survivors, political figures, scholars and others gathered at an international conference in Stockholm in January 2000. The point of the conference was to discuss the lessons of the Holocaust, the crimes committed, and to serve as a forum for mobilizing opposition to Genocide writ large. During this conference, the Executive Committee of the World Jewish Congress discussed the accumulation of Jewish financial assets by European banks during the Nazi era, and the process of refunding such assets. It was in this context that the article notes: “The President of the Jewish World Congress [Edgar] Bronfman stated that so far, the sum of these funds for the repayment and restitution of survivors and surviving dependents has amounted to seven billion dollars. The larger part of these funds would be returned to surviving owners or their heirs, the remainder would be used for educational purposes.” (cited from the translation of “Holocaust-Konferenz in Stockholm”)
Unfortunately, it is not clear from the article whether it is the WJC that is controlling and distributing the seven billion dollars in question or some other related agency (or group of agencies). It is logical to infer that the WJC is involved at least to some degree because of its role and that of affiliated institutions-in seeking restitution from German companies, Swiss banks, and the German government and distributing it to Holocaust survivors and Jewish organizations. But the article does not make these issues explicit. In regard to the allegations by Peter Novick, then, Finkelstein could have found additional evidence to clarify the issue, or otherwise qualified his remarks. Nonetheless, an examination of the article used by Finkelstein does not support Novick’s claim of “deliberate deception.”
Given the serious nature of the charges made against a member of our department, and given the responsibility of the Personnel Committee to act in the best interest of many constituencies the department, college and university; to our students and colleagues; and to individual members including Professor Finkelstein — we have taken undertaken this inquiry with great care and an attempt to be fair-minded. None of the individual allegations we examined seem to be examples of academic misconduct or dishonesty, and we found no evidence of a pattern of such in the record we examined. We found many other things in examining these charges – highly contentious and often acrimonious debates, ideological disputes not amenable to compromise or easy resolution, intemperate language and ad hominem attacks by Professor Finkelstein and his critics, arguments of varying strength or persuasiveness, and charges and countercharges driven by contested readings of words, phrases and references taken singly or as part of purported patterns. The broadest charges against Professor Finkelstein are derived from his public statements – where matters of sarcasm and rhetorical flourish appear frequently, as do occasional assertions of verbatim quotations apparently rendered from memory in an imperfect or summative fashion. In the scholarly materials we examined, the charges were almost entirely of a hair-splitting sort, where differences of interpretation and reading seem endemic. To repeat, however – we did not find evidence of academic or research misconduct that would substantiate those charges we believed to be most relevant and verifiable.
In addition to the specific allegations of academic misconduct examined herein, the Committee also explored two other accusations that do not entirely fit the criteria we established for our work.
1. In his cover letter, Dershowitz claims Finkelstein deliberately misquotes an opinion of the Israeli High Court of Justice concerning whether a Palestinian detainee died “from shaking” by Israeli interrogators (Dershowitz’s quoting Finkelstein) or “after being shaken” (Dershowitz’ claim). Dershowtiz alleges that Finkelstein deliberately changed the wording of the opinion to mislead. While the cover letter references an interview Finkelstein gave on C-Span (thus falling outside our purview of written-record-only allegations), the issue is also engaged on p. 160-2 of Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah.
This issue involves a court decision regarding the use of torture by the Israeli General Security Services (GSS). On this matter, the committee examined the Israeli High Court of Justice decision at issue. On the one hand, Dershowitz offers the wording of the decision: the court decision in question does read “All agree that in one particular case (H.C. 4045/95) the suspect in question expired after being shaken.” (italics added – Dershowitz alleges that Finkelstein said that the suspect died from shaking). However,
Dershowitz also overplays his hand by claiming “…the sentence that follows in the decision attributes the death to an extremely rare complication…” That is not exactly right. Rather the court noted that “According to the State [i.e. the GSS] the case constituted a rare exception. Death was caused by an extremely rare complication resulting in the atrophy of the neurogenic lung.” This was all a part of the summary of the Israeli Government’s position defending the use of ‘shaking’ as an interrogation technique. It was not a statement of finding by the court, but, rather, a restatement of the Israeli Government position.
Dershowitz also argues that the decision “summarizes the literature as having no examples of anyone dying form shakings.” This is also not exactly right. Rather, the Israeli government does argue that there are no examples of people dying from violent shaking, and this is summarized in the court decision. However, the decision also notes that an expert opinion submitted in a different case argues that “the shaking method is likely to cause serious brain damage, harm the spinal cord, cause the suspect to lose consciousness, vomit and urinate uncontrollably and suffer serious headaches.” hl his book, Finkelstein quotes the decision accurately, and writes, “All agree” that Harizat “expired after being shaken.”
Perhaps a more adequate perspective can be obtained by noting that the autopsy conducted by two Israeli physicians and observed by a Scottish forensics expert (from Physicians for Human Rights) found that the suspect in question, a Palestinian named
Harizat, died from a trauma to the brain, and not of natural causes. This was reflected in a statement by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in June 1995 that read “the findings of the autopsy indicated that his [Harizat} death was caused by a simple edema and bleeding in the head, caused as a result of a rapid twisting of the head.” This was also reflected in the US State Department 1995 Human Rights report which stated “…pathologists who performed the autopsy on Harizat determined that this death–from a large edema and internal hemorrhaging of the brain– was a direct result of torture.” One of the reasons the state changed its story, it appears, is to avoid prosecuting the interrogator. At a minimum, then, the question of what the Court decision at issue relates is far from simple: Finkelstein’s relating of the decision’s wording in the C-Span interview is imprecise (but accurate in Beyond Chutzpah), while Dershowitz’s is incomplete at best and misleading at worst. The Committee concludes that this example does not support a claim of academic misconduct.
2. In addition, the Committee feels obliged to share its findings about a charge raised by Dershowitz’s concerning the written record that is not strictly related to academic misconduct – specifically, the charge that Finkelstein “collaborated with” a political cartoonist to generate a satirical cartoon of questionable taste in an article critiquing Dershowitz’s defense of `target assassinations’ (www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/08/10il8296109.php). Dershowitz has generated media attention to this matter, called in other organizations to attack DePaul (e.g. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, October 11, 2006), and ties it to one of the substantive charges of academic misconduct explored in our review (item 1). The Catholic League press release (acting upon information obtained directly from Dershowitz, according to League President William Donohue; conversation with M. Budde, October 13, 2006) for example, claims that Finkelstein advocates the assassination of Dershowitz and charges that “Finkelstein wrote this to illustrate the vicious cartoon he commissioned”.
In investigating the matter, the Committee discovered that Finkelstein reported never having heard of the website in question publishing the article and cartoon, did not authorize use of his article, and did not commission the accompanying editorial cartoon. He said that it is not unusual for articles he has written to be reposted on other web sites without his knowledge or consent, and that he first learned of its use only recently and after the fact.
Finkelstein’s article itself (without illustration) was published two months previously in Counterpunch, an online political journal in its August 12-13, 2006 edition (http://www.counterpunch.org/finkclstein08122006.html); it is a lengthy exploration of international law and matters of preventive/pre-emptive war as argued by Dershowitz. Contrary to the release from the Catholic League and intimated by Dershowitz’s cover letter, the original article does not call for Dershowitz to be assassinated, and in fact specifically disavows such. Interestingly, however, the version of the article reproduced with the cartoon in question omits that disavowal, for reasons known only to the editors of that web site; this change was discovered by comparing the two versions. What Finkelstein’s article does do, in a sustained argument about killing civilians as part of pre-emptive war and the ‘war on terror,’ is suggest that Dershowitz’s public defense of Israeli military action might render Dershowitz himself vulnerable based on the criteria he advocates.