Posts

Novick Defends Finkelstein

I'll concede this to my sparring partners in the last post I wrote about Norman Finkelstein. "Settles the case" was a silly locution on my part; a bad pun referring only to the odious personality that I think Alan Dershowitz … Read More

By / May 8, 2007

I'll concede this to my sparring partners in the last post I wrote about Norman Finkelstein. "Settles the case" was a silly locution on my part; a bad pun referring only to the odious personality that I think Alan Dershowitz was right to call out in his Wall Street Journal editorial. That said, Finkelstein's "case" as a scholar is by no means decided.

While I still have no love for Hezbollah's second favorite American academic, Dershowitz's sustained campaign to interfere with his tenure adjudication go beyond the limits of professionalism or propriety, at least according to those whose opinion I respect. As I do tend to kept a record of evidence against interest in feuds of this nature, I was surprised to learn from this Nation piece that:

Among the numerous comments on the case, the most thoughtful come from University of Chicago historian Peter Novick, who has written the definitive book on the history of US Holocaust commemoration (see my "Holocaust Creationism," July 12, 1999). He's been a sharp critic of Finkelstein's writing, declaring that many of the assertions in Finkelstein's The Holocaust Industry are "pure invention" and calling the book "a twenty-first century updating of 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'" But Novick objects to the way Dershowitz portrayed him–as an ally in the campaign to block Finkelstein's tenure.

At Dershowitz's suggestion, the political science chair asked Novick for "the clearest and most egregious instances" of Finkelstein's malfeasance. Novick replied that while inviting outside opinions on a candidate for tenure was common, soliciting "the dirt" was totally improper, and he wouldn't satisfy such a request. Novick then published key parts of his letter in The Chronicle to publicly disassociate himself from Dershowitz's tactics.

Any academics in the house want to confirm or deny Novick's claim? 

Tagged with: