Professor Alan Dershowitz’s Latest Effort to Deny Dr Finkelstein Tenure and Academic Freedom

It appears the latest strategy of Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz to deny Dr Norman G. Finkelstein tenure is to claim that the conferring of tenure would be based not on merit but on external pressure that the Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard has waged for several years. I think it is important to remember that university administrations have an obligation to adhere to faculty judgment in tenure proceedings unless there is clear and compelling evidence to reverse faculty-peer assessment.

Both the DePaul University Political Science Department, Political Science Department Personnel Committee and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Personnel Committee have recommended either that Dr Finkelstein be granted promotion and tenure or rejected charges of scholarly misconduct in his seminal works on Israel and the politicisation of the dreaded holocaust. I find it not insignificant that Professor Dershowitz has personalised this process to such an extent that he fails to acknowledge the series of affirmative evaluations that Professor Finkelstein’s peers have rendered during their deliberations.

Resist Censorship and the Draconian Conformity of the Canon

By Alan M. Dershowitz | June 6, 2007

The latest line from Norman Finkelstein’s supporters is that the President of DePaul University Reverend, Dennis H. Holtschneider, would not dare to deny tenure to Finkelstein in the face of my “outside pressure.” Professor Peter Novick, who once accused Finkelstein of making up facts and quotes, has now leaped [sic] [to] his defense. He believes that Finkelstein will get tenure because “Dershowitz’s highly publicized intervention has, it seems to me, made it impossible for DePaul to reject Finkelstein’s bid for tenure without everyone concluding that DePaul has capitulated to Dershowitz’s bullying.”

In other words, Novick is accusing DePaul of making its tenure decision not on the merits or demerits of Finkelstein’s flawed scholarship but rather because it doesn’t want to be perceived as giving into outside pressure. What an insult to DePaul!

The irony is that virtually all the outside pressure is coming from Finkelstein. He has generated outside petitions. He has threatened to sue the university and those members of the Political Science department who voted against him. He has stimulated a letter-writing campaign. He has gotten other outsiders, most notoriously Noam Chomsky, to support his tenure. He has leaked internal DePaul documents supporting his bid for tenure, while suppressing documents that oppose it. I, on the other hand, have been virtually alone in opposing his tenure. (Many academics are strongly opposed but reluctant to go public because of the abuse directed against me by Finkelstein supporters for doing so.) Moreover, unlike Chomsky and the other outsiders who are pressuring DePaul to grant Finkelstein tenure, I was explicitly asked for my input by the former chairman of the DePaul political science department.

Thus, in an attempt to use reverse psychology, Finkelstein’s supporters are claiming that if DePaul were to make the right decision – namely to deny Finkelstein tenure – it would be because of my outside pressure. But if DePaul were to make the wrong decision – namely to grant Finkelstein tenure – it would not be based on the extraordinary outside pressure that Finkelstein has generated, but rather on the merits. I cannot believe that DePaul University will fall for this absurd form of “new speak.”

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