Chicago Sun-Times Gets Cold Feet: Now They Won’t Publish Letter on Finkelstein Tenure Case

This was the letter I had sent to the Chicago Sun-Times in response to Dave Newbart’s article on the Norman Finkelstein tenure case:

I would like to take strong exception to the editorializing in Dave Newbart’s article on “Tenure and Trouble” (May 14) concerning the Norman Finkelstein tenure case at DePaul University. Newbart claims that supporters of Professor Finkelstein are “anti-Israel” without offering any evidence to support such a serious charge. To suggest that one is motivated by anti-Israel bias in demanding that DePaul University provide the professor appropriate due process and academic freedom is an egregious and ad hominem remark.

Professor Alan M. Dershowitz, Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard has attempted to portray Finkelstein, who is Jewish and whose parents survived the Holocaust, as an enemy of Israel and of the Jews. Those who have resisted such an unprecedented effort to interfere with DePaul’s internal due process proceedings are not anti-Israel. Newbart, for example, apparently is unaware that Raul Hilberg, the dean of holocaust historians, has supported Finkelstein as well as Oxford University Middle Eastern specialist, Avi Shlaim

Many may agree with Finkelstein’s assertion that Israel is a colonial power or that its treatment of the Palestinians is beyond the pale of international law. That does not mean supporters of Finkelstein are in favor of the destruction of Israel or in opposition to its right to live within secure and internationally recognized borders.

Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History
Saint Xavier University
3700 West 103rd Street
Chicago, Ill. 773.298.3283
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Then I received this response:

From: Harris, Richard [mailto:rharris@suntimes.com]
Sent: Mon 5/14/2007 2:38 PM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
Subject: RE: Letter to Sun-Times

The Editors of the Sun-Times Editorial Page are considering using your e-mail letter but we need to verify that you wrote it and we also need to know the name of the town or neighborhood in Chicago that you live in. Please e-mail me at rharris@suntimes.com or call to verify at 312-321-2510.

Thanks much,
Rich Harris
for the
Editorial Page
—————————————————————————–
From: Harris, Richard [mailto:rharris@suntimes.com]
Sent: Tue 5/15/2007 7:58 AM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
Subject: RE: Letter to Sun-Times

Peter
I’m not even going to put —— on the message I sent to Michelle Stevens, our Op-ed, Letters editor.
Sorry we can’t give you an exact date when it might run but it could be within a week or so. {Emphasis added}

Rich
—————————————————————————-
From: Kirstein, Peter N.
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 6:05 AM
To: Harris, Richard
Subject: RE: Letter to Sun-Times

Hi Rich:

I hope I am not a distraction but do you know when my letter to the editor is going to appear? I have not seen it and was just wondering if you have any information on this?

Sincerely yours,

Peter
—————————————————————————-
From: Harris, Richard [mailto:rharris@suntimes.com]
Sent: Fri 5/18/2007 8:14 AM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
Subject: RE: Letter to Sun-Times

Peter

It’s up to the Op-Ed letters Editor, Michelle Stevens and she said after consulting with the reporter, Dave Newbart, they decided not to run it. {Emphasis added}

Rich Harris
for the
Chicago Sun-Times
Editorial Page
—————————————————————————–
From: Kirstein, Peter N.
Sent: Fri 5/18/2007 8:36 AM
To: Harris, Richard
Subject: RE: Letter to Sun-Times
Rich:

I must say it appears that Newbart is allowed to veto or have a role in determining who gets to criticise or not. He likes to rip people in a biased manner and yet apparently is not subject to reader criticism of his tirades.

I am disappointed in this. My letter was accurate and an effort to point out that news reporting should not be the place for editorial opinions. Newbart is obviously a conservative, which is fine, but his first mission is to report, not slant the news. Stating that supporters of Finkelstein are “anti-Israel” is egregious, and terrible reporting and I think the Sun-Times should accept that as legitimate criticism. I hope you will pass along this comment to Ms Stevens. I must say this is the first time I was asked to verify a letter from ANY paper, only to have it rejected whether it be the New York Times, Sun-Times, Tribune or other papers.

I do thank you however for informing me and your prompt response to my inquiry.

Peter N. Kirstein

———————————————————————————
From: Harris, Richard [mailto:rharris@suntimes.com]
Sent: Fri 5/18/2007 9:03 AM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
Subject: RE: Letter to Sun-Times

Peter

I passed it on to Michelle Stevens for you.
Thanks for your kind words.

Rich Harris
for the
Editorial Page

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