David Horowitz, a serious critic of higher education, persists in publishing via Steven Plaut ad hominem crusades against progressive academicians who oppose Israeli colonialism, apartheid and expansionism. Professor Plaut rails against professors who contravene his ethnocentric Zionism. He has even sunk to the level of referring to a son of holocaust survivors as an anti-semite: Norman Finkelstein. Professor Plaut believes that if a Jew does not support the occupation of Palestine, the building of settlements in the West Bank and Syria, apartheid being perpetrated against the Palestinians and war crimes unleashed against Lebanon in the aggressive summer war of 2006, he or she is anti-semitic.
His latest screed to appear in Mr Horowtiz’s influential online journal, Frontpagemag.com contains a curious link associated with an alleged article I wrote. I NEVER wrote the article that Professor Plaut attributes to me and despite the lower-case misspelling, “peter kerstein,” it is obvious the article is a fraudulent reference to me. It is clear someone improperly and unprofessionally attached my name to an article that I never wrote. Steven, all you had to do was e-mail me and ask me if I wrote the article that you carelessly present as my own. Since it appears on Frontpagemag, you could have asked Mr Horowitz if indeed I wrote such an article and misspelled my family name. As one who earned a Ph.D. from Princeton University, you know the importance of verifying your sources and checking on the provenance of your research. I know you won’t offer a retraction or a correction; your objective is to fire and purge from American universities, a nation you no longer live in, any faculty member who fails your litmus test of academic Zionist conformity. Yet I did NOT write that article and am curious if you have a comment on this error.
Professor Plaut was convicted of libel in ISRAEL for calling Israeli academic Neve Gordon an anti-semite. I have publicly defended Mr Plaut from charges of libel but it is obvious his credibility is significantly attenuated due to his conviction of libeling and using vicious attacks in a vile and contumely campaign of personal destruction. Mr Plaut, can’t you engage in more lofty, academic discourse? Are you incapable of respecting critical thinking and do you really construe criticism of Israel as reflective of anti-semitism? I think you are hiding behind that tired charge and failing to deal substantively with the geopolitical issues of the complicated morass of the Middle East.
In Steven Plaut’s article he refers to Professor Gordon as “an extremist anti-Israel lecturer.” I would urge the author to consider that disagreement with a nation’s foreign policy does not constitute disloyalty; it represents the obligations of citizenship in a democracy. Professor Plaut would establish some credibility if he condemned alleged illegal action not thought. A sustained critique of a nation’s decision to go to war or its treatment of subject peoples, for example, should be construed as protected speech and challenged in an analytical and not in a gratuitously personal manner. While FrontPageMag continues to give Professor Plaut a forum for his assault on academic freedom, I wonder how it comports with Mr Horowitz’s claim that his Academic Bill of Rights seeks to advance academic freedom?
During the summer Professor Plaut on his blog listed the names of senior administrators of my university. He encouraged his readers to contact them and complain about my giving a talk–which by the way condemned anti-Semitism–at a conference several yeas ago hosted by World War II historian David Irving. Others criticised me as well in an article I wrote for History New Network but only Mr Plaut tried directly to undermine my academic appointment. He also used highly degrading and abusive insults against me. My point is Mr Plaut consistently engages in hitting below the belt by trying to silence academicians with whom he disagrees. I have not met Professor Plaut but it appears he holds extremely anti-democratic and authoritarian views on public discourse. I don’t think David Horowitz shares that censorious extremism in that he was willing to come to my university and debate me for two hours on the Iraq War and academic freedom.