Did Alan Dershowitz Borrow Shamelessly from a Discredited History Book?





Mr. Finkelstein teaches political science at DePaul University in Chicago. He is the author of four books including most recently, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (Verso, 2000).

Editor's Note: Mr. Finkelstein claims that Alan Dershowitz's latest book, The Case for Israel, shamelessly borrows from Joan Peters's controversial book, From Time Immemorial, which Mr. Finkelstein claims is a fraud. Mr. Dershowitz disputes the charge that he borrowed shamelessly from Peters. In late September 2003 Mr. Dershowitz and Mr. Finkelstein appeared on "Democracy Now!," a radio show that broadcasts over 160 stations. Mr. Dershowitz said:

[W]hat I did, and it's very common for scholars to do that, is I read [Peters's] books, I read Mr. Finkelstein's criticism of them. I came away from enough doubt about the conclusions that although I don't regard the Peters's book in any way as a fraud, I think it was well intentioned effort to recreate ... the very difficult to recreate events that existed in 1890 and 1900. I did find her quotes which have been as I said used extensively by Facts and Myths and other publications, to be quite compelling. This book and none of my writing, I don't purport to be an independent historian who goes back to the Middle East and reads original documents. I am making a case. I'm doing what a lawyer would do and what lawyers do is they find sources, they check the sources. I had a research staff that obviously checked the sources.

In the introduction to The Case for Israel, Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School asserts that his account is supported by "facts and figures, some of which will surprise those who get their information from biased sources" (p. 2). Yet, the evidence Dershowitz adduces will surprise no one familiar with the most notorious source of historical bias on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ever published in the English language. The charts below document Dershowitz's wholesale lifting of source material from Joan Peters's monumental hoax, From Time Immemorial. Dershowitz not only copies Peters shamelessly, but knowingly does so from a book serious scholars have uniformly condemned.(For details on the Peters hoax, see Norman G. Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and Yehoshua Porath, "Mrs. Peters's Palestine," New York Review of Books, 16 January 1986.) He is effectively no different from a professor lifting sources wholesale from a leading Holocaust revisionist in a book on the Holocaust. On a note both humorous and pathetic, Peters, in From Time Immemorial and claiming to be inspired by George Orwell, coins the term "turnspeak" to signal the inversion of reality (pp. 173, 402). Dershowitz, apparently confounded by his massive borrowings from Peters, credits the term "turnspeak" to Orwell, accusing critics of Israel of "deliberately using George Orwell's `turnspeak'" (p. 57) and "Orwellian turnspeak" (p. 153). Is this scandalous scholarship, or is it plagiarism, or is it both?

 

DERSHOWITZ
PETERS
the sixteenth century, according to British reports, "as many as 15,000 Jews" lived in Safad, which was a "center of rabbinical learning." (p. 17)

Source cited: Palestine Royal Commission Report, pp. 11-12.

Safad at that time, according to the British investigation by Lord Peel's committee, "contained as many as 15,000 Jews in the 16th century," and was "a centre of Rabbinical learning." (p. 178)

Source cited: Palestine Royal Commission Report, pp. 11-12.

[A]ccording to the British consul in Jerusalem, the Muslims of Jerusalem "scarcely exceed[ed] one quarter of the whole population." (p. 17)

Source cited: James Finn to Earl of Clarendon, January 1, 1858.

In 1858 Consul Finn reported the "Mohammedans of Jerusalem" were "scarcely exceeding one-quarter of the whole population." (p. 197)

Source cited: James Finn to Earl of Clarendon, January 1, 1858.

By the middle of the nineteenth century […] Jews also constituted a significant presence, often a plurality or majority, in Safad, Tiberias, and several other cities and towns. (p. 17)

Source cited: James Finn to Viscount Palmerston, November 7, 1851.

Meanwhile, the Jewish population had been growing. They were the majority in Safed and Tiberias by 1851. (p. 199)


Source cited: James Finn to Viscount Palmerston, November 7, 1851.

In 1834, Jewish homes in Jerusalem "were sacked and their women violated." (p. 18)

Source cited: Jacob de Haas, History of Palestine (New York: 1934), p. 393.

[I]n 1834, […] "Forty thousand fellahin rushed on Jerusalem…The Jews were the worst sufferers, their homes were sacked and their women violated." (p. 183)

Source cited: Jacob de Haas, History of Palestine (New York: 1934), p. 393.

The British consul, William Young, in a report to the British Foreign Office […] painted a vivid and chilling picture of the life of the Jews in Jerusalem in 1839: "I think it is my duty to inform you that there has been a Proclamation issued this week by the Government in the Jewish quarter - that no Jew is to be permitted to pray in his own house under pain of being severely punished - such as want to pray are to go into the Synagogue… There has also been a punishment inflicted on a Jew and Jewess - most revolting to human nature, which I think it is my duty to relate. In the early part of this week, a House was entered in the Jewish Quarter, and a robbery was committed - the House was in quarantine - and the guardian was a Jew - he was taken before the Governor - he denied having any knowledge of the thief or the circumstances. In order to compel him to confess, he was laid down and beaten, and afterwards imprisoned. The following day he was again brought before the Governor, when he still declared his innocence. He was then burned with a hot iron over his face, and various parts of the body - and beaten on the lower parts of his body to the extent that the flesh hung in pieces from him The following day the poor creature died. He was a young Jew of Salonica about 28 years of age - who had been here but a very short time, he had only the week before been applying to enter my service. A young man - a Jew - having a French passport was also suspected - he fled - his character was known to be an indifferent one - his mother, an aged woman, was taken under suspicion of concealing her son - she was tied up and beaten in the most brutal way…. I must say I am sorry and am surprised that the Governor could have acted so savage a part - for certainly what I have seen of him, I should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity - but it was a Jew - without friends or protection - it serves well to show, that it is not without reason that the poor Jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life." (p. 18)In May 1839, for instance, the complaints registered with the British Foreign Office by Consul Young in Jerusalem were appalling. In one day, in one report: "I think it is my duty to inform you that there has been a Proclamation issued this week by the Government in the Jewish quarter - that no Jew is to be permitted to pray in his own house under pain of being severely punished - such as want to pray are to go into the Synagogue… There has also been a punishment inflicted on a Jew and Jewess - most revolting to human nature, which I think it is my duty to relate - In the early part of this week, a House was entered in the Jewish Quarter, and a robbery was committed - the House was in quarantine - and the guardian was a Jew - he was taken before the Governor - he denied having any knowledge of the thief or the circumstances. In order to compell him to confess, he was laid down and beaten, and afterwards imprisoned. The following day he was again brought before the Governor, when he still declared his innocence. He was then burned with a hot iron over his face, and various parts of the body - and beaten on the lower parts of his body to that extent that the flesh hung in pieces from him. The following day the poor creature died. He was a young Jew of Salonica about 28 years of age - who had been here but a very short time, he had only the week before been applying to enter my service. A young man - a Jew - having a French passport was also suspected - he fled - his character was known to be an indifferent one - his mother, an aged woman, was taken under suspicion of concealing her son - she was tied up and beaten in the most brutal way…. I must say I am sorry and am surprised that the Governor could have acted so savage a part - for certainly what I have seen of him, I should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity - but it was a Jew - without friends or protection - it serves well to show, that it is not without reason that the poor Jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life." (p. 184)
Nor could the Jew seek redress, as the report observed: "Like the miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by one because he crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries out - to seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint being revenged upon him." (p. 20)

Source cited: Wm. T. Young to Viscount Palmerston, May 25, 1839.

[T]he life for Jews described in 1839 by British Consul Young: "[…] Like the miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by one because he crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries out - to seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint being revenged upon him." (p. 187)
Source cited: Wm. T. Young to Viscount Palmerston, May 25, 1839.
Several years later, the same consul attributed the plight of the Jew in Jerusalem to "the blind hatred and ignorant prejudice of a fanatical populace," coupled with an inability of the poverty-stricken Jewish community to defend itself either politically or physically. (p. 20)


Source cited: Wm. T. Young to Viscount Canning, January 13, 1842.

In Palestine, [it] was reported: "It is a fact that the Jewish Subjects…do not enjoy the privileges granted to them….This Evil may in general be traced …: I. To the absence of an adequate protection whereby they are more exposed to cruel and tyrannical treatment. II. To the blind hatred and ignorant prejudices of a fanatical populace….IV. To the starving state of numerous Jewish population." (p. 188; Peters's emphasis)
Source cited: Wm. T. Young to Viscount Canning, January 13, 1842.

Mark Twain, who visited Palestine in 1867, offered this description: "Stirring scenes . . . occur in the valley [Jezreel] no more. There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent - not for thirty miles in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. . . . Come to Galilee for that . . . these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of Capernaum: this stupid village of Tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms. . . . We reached Tabor safely. . . .We never saw a human being on the whole route. Nazareth is forlorn. . . . Jericho the accursed lies in a moldering ruin today, even as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliations, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Savior's presence, the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang, `Peace on earth, good will to men,' is untenanted by any living creature. . . . Bethsaida and Chorzin have vanished from the earth, and the `desert places' round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the Savior's voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes." (pp. 23-4)

 

Source cited: Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (New York: 1996), pp. 349, 366, 375, 441-442.

Mark Twain […] visited the Holy Land in 1867. In one location after another, Twain registered gloom at his findings: "Stirring scenes . . . occur in the valley [Jezreel] no more. There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent - not for thirty miles in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. […] Come to Galilee for that . . . these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of Capernaum: this stupid village of Tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms. . . . We reached Tabor safely. . . .We never saw a human being on the whole route. Nazareth is forlorn. . . . Jericho the accursed lies in a moldering ruin today, even as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliations, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Savior's presence, the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang, `Peace on earth, good will to men,' is untenanted by any living creature. . . . Bethsaida and Chorzin have vanished from the earth, and the `desert places' round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the Savior's voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes." (pp. 159-60)

Source cited: Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (London: 1881), pp. 349, 366, 375, 441-442.

A Christian historian has reported that several villages throughout Palestine "are populated wholly by settlers from other portions of the Turkish Empire within the nineteenth century. There are villages of Bosnians, Druzes, Circassians and Egyptians." (p. 26)

Source cited: James Parkes, Whose Land?, p. 212.

"In some cases villages [in Palestine] are populated wholly by settlers from other portions of the Turkish Empire within the nineteenth century. There are villages of Bosnians, Druzes, Circassians and Egyptians," one historian has reported. (p. 156)

Source cited: James Parkes, Whose Land?, p. 212.

The 1911 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica described the population of Palestine as comprising widely differing "ethnological" groups speaking "no less than fifty languages." It was daunting therefore to "write concisely" about "the ethnology of Palestine," especially following the influx of population from Egypt "which still persists in the villages." In addition to Arabs and Jews, the other ethnic groups in Palestine at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century included Kurds, German Templars, Persians, Sudanese, Algerians, Samaritans, Tatars, Georgians, and many people of mixed ethnicities. (p. 26)

Source cited: No volume or page number cited.

Another source, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition […] finds the "population" of Palestine composed of so "widely differing" a group of "inhabitants" - whose "ethnological affinities" create "early in the 20th century a list of no less than fifty languages" - that "it is therefore no easy task to write concisely . . . on the ethnology of Palestine." In addition to the "Assyrian, Persian and Roman" elements of ancient times, "the short-lived Egyptian government introduced into the population an element from that country which still persists in the villages."… "There are […] Persians […] Kurds…German `Templar' colonies […], a large Algerian element […] Sudanese, […] the Samaritan sect." (pp. 156-7)

Source cited: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. XX, p. 604.

An 1857 communiqué from the British consul in Jerusalem reported that "the country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population." (p. 26)

Source cited: James Finn to the Earl of Clarendon, September 15, 1857.

The British Consul in Palestine reported in 1857 that "The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population." (p. 159)

Source cited: James Finn to the Earl of Clarendon, September 15, 1857.

It also noted that although the Arabs tended to leave and not return, the Jewish population was more stable: "[W]e have Jews who have traveled to the United States and Australia," and "instead of remaining there, do return hither." (p. 26)

Source cited: James Finn to the Earl of Clarendon, September 15, 1857.

Finn wrote further that "[…] we have Jews here , who have been to the United States, but have returned to their Holy Land - Jews of Jerusalem do go to Australia and instead of remaining there, do return hither." (p. 485)

Source cited: James Finn to the Earl of Clarendon, September 15, 1857.

Four years later, it was reported that "depopulation is even now advancing." (p. 26)


Source cited: J.B. Forsyth, A Few Months in the East (Quebec: 1861), p. 188.

In the 1860s, it was reported that "depopulation is even now advancing." (p. 159)

Source cited: J.B. Forsyth, A Few Months in the East (Quebec: 1861), p. 188.

And four years after that, it was noted that in certain parts of the country "land is going out of cultivation and whole villages are rapidly disappearing . . . and the stationery population extirpated." (p. 26)

Source cited: H.B. Tristram, The Land of Israel: A Journal of Travels in Palestine (London: 1865), p. 490.

H.B. Tristam noted in his journal that "The north and south [of the Sharon plain] land is going out of cultivation and whole villages are rapidly disappearing […] and the stationery population extirpated." (p. 159)

Source cited: H.B. Tristram, The Land of Israel: A Journal of Travels in Palestine (London: 1865), p. 490.

Other historians, demographers, and travelers described the Arab population as "decreasing," and the land as "thinly populated," "unoccupied," "uninhabited," and "almost abandoned now." (pp. 26-7)

Sources cited:
Samuel Bartlett, From Egypt to Palestine (New York: 1879), p. 409. Cited in Fred Gottheil, "The population of Palestine, Circa 1875," Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 15, no. 3, October 1979.
Edward Wilson, In Scripture Lands (New York: 1890) p. 316. Cited in Gottheil
W. Allen, The Dead Sea: A New Route to India (London: 1855), p. 113. Cited in Gottheil.
William Thomson, The Land and the Book (New York: 1871), p. 466. Cited in Gottheil.

Report followed depressing report, as the economist-historian Professor Fred Gottheil pointed out: […] "wretched desolation and neglect"; "almost abandoned now"; "unoccupied"; "uninhabited"; "thinly populated." (p. 160)

Sources cited:
S.C. Bartlett, From Egypt to Palestine (New York: 1879), p. 409. Cited in Fred Gottheil, "The Population of Palestine, Circa 1875," Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 15, no. 3, October 1979.
W. Allen, The Dead Sea: A New Route to India (London: 1855), p. 113. Cited in ibid.
W.M. Thomson, The Land and the Book (New York: 1862), p. 466. Cited in ibid.
E.L. Wilson In Scripture Lands (New York: n.d.), p. 316. Cited in ibid.

The Plain of Sharon […] was described by Reverend Samuel Manning in 1874 as a "land without inhabitants" that "might support an immense population." (p. 27)

Source cited: Reverend Samuel Manning, Those Holy Fields (London: 1874), pp. 14-17.

Many writers, such as the Reverend Samuel Manning, mourned the atrophy of the coastal plain, the Sharon Plain […]: "This fertile plain, which might support an immense population, is […] `the land […] without inhabitants'." (p. 160)

Source cited: Reverend Samuel Manning, Those Holy Fields (London: 1874), pp. 14-17.

J.L. Burkhardt [sic] reported that as early as in the second decade of the nineteenth century, "Few individuals…die in the same village in which they were born. Families are continually moving from one place to another…in a few years…they fly to some other place, where they have heard that their brethren are better treated." (p. 27)

Source cited: John Lewis Burckhardt, Travels in Syria and the Holy Land (New York: 1983), p. 299.

John Lewis Burckhardt graphically described the migratory patterns he found in the early 1800s: "[…] Few individuals…die in the same village in which they were born. Families are continually moving from one place to another […] in a few years […] they fly to some other place, where they have heard that their brethren are better treated." (p. 163)

Source cited: John Lewis Burckhardt, Travels in Syria and the Holy Land (London: 1882), p. 299.

A study of the Jewish settlement of Rishon L'Tzion, first established in 1882, showed that the 40 Jewish families that settled there had attracted "more than 400 Arab families," many of which were Bedouin and Egyptian. These families moved into areas around the Jewish settlement and formed a new Arab village on the site of "a forsaken ruin." The report observed a similar pattern with regard to other settlements and villages. (p. 27)


Source cited: A. Druyanov, Ketavim Letoldot Hibbat Ziyyon Ve-Yishshuv Erez Yisra'el (Writings on the history of the Hibbat Ziyyon and the settlement of the land of Israel) (Odessa, Tel Aviv, 1919, 1925, 1932), vol. 3, pp. 66-67.

[I]n the Jewish settlement Rishon l'Tsion (founded in 1882), by the year 1889 the "forty Jewish families" settled there had attracted "more than four hundred Arab families," most of them "Bedouin and Egyptian." They had come to "surround the moshava" (settlement) in a "now-thriving village" that, before the founding of Rishon l'Tsion, had been Sarafand - "a forsaken ruin." The report from Rishon pointed out that many other Arab villages had sprouted in the same fashion. (pp. 252-3)


Source cited: A. Druyanov, Ketavim letoldoth hibbat ziyyon ve-yishshuv erez yisra'el) (Odessa, Tel Aviv, 1919, 1925, 1932), vol. 3, pp. 66-67.

According to one historian, "at least 25% of [the Muslims who lived in all of Palestine in 1882] were newcomers or descendants of those who arrived after [the Egyptian conquest of 1831]." (p. 28)


Source cited: Ernst Frankenstein, Justice for my People (London: 1943), p. 127.

One historian deduced that of 141,000 settled Muslims living in all of Palestine (all areas) in 1882, "at least 25% of those 141,000…were newcomers or descendants of those who arrived after 1831 (Egyptian conquest)." (pp. 196-7)

Source cited: Ernst Frankenstein, Justice for My People (London: 1943), p. 127.

A British official reported in 1937 that "the growth in [the numbers of Arab fellahin] had been largely due to the health services combating malaria, reducing infant death rates, improving water supply and sanitation." (p. 28)


Source cited: Report to His Britannic Majesty's Government to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of Palestine and Trans-Jordan for the Year 1937, Colonial No. 146, pp. 223-224.

An official 1937 report found that "The growth in their numbers [Arab fellahin-peasants] has been largely due to the health services, combating malaria, reducing the infant deathrate, improving water supply and sanitation." (pp. 223-4)

Source cited: Report to His Britannic Majesty's Government to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of Palestine and Trans-Jordan for the Year 1937, Colonial No. 146, pp. 223-224.

Related Links

  • David Greenberg,"Anti-Semitism--and Not Very Good Anti-Semitism at That" (a review of Mr. Finkelstein's The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering)


    This article first appeared on Mr. Finkelstein's own web page.


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    More Comments:


    Peter G Sherwood - 5/30/2006

    I am perversely thankful for Finkelstein's rather ill-considered and inaccurate accusations of plagiarism on the part of Professor Dershowitz in his The Case for Israel, for the simple reason that his table of Peters/Dershowitz common quotes showcased some very powerful material. As raw and decontextualised as it is in Finkelstein's presentation, it has (at least for those of us who have not read Dershowitz's book ) perhaps provide a thought provoking invitation. An ironic outworking of Finkelstein's apparent aversion to actually tackling the contents of the quotations rather than the style of their appearing.


    Zarabeth - 12/8/2003

    From the debate I could not tell whether any plagiarism had occured or not and my opinion on the subject of Israeli-Palestinian history was not pushed in either one direction or the other. However, by the end of the debate/discussion and had a very bad feeling about Finkelstein, who for the whole time sounded like a nervous sourpuss who could not possibly hope to win anyone to his cause whether a just one or not. It inspired me to find a book on the subject and I found a good one called "One Palestine Complete" by Tom Segev. After reading it I realized that neither one of these guys is right about the subject.


    tommaso muner - 12/7/2003

    It is not clear to me what could have been (in figures), by the end of nineteenth century, the population in Palestine. Can you help me
    Many thanks and best regards
    Tommaso Muner
    Venice - Italy


    M. Bacharach - 10/21/2003

    The following is an article by Alan Dershowitz, writing in his own defense:

    http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=349031

    I have also read Mr. Finkelstein's article that was posted here. IF Mr. Finkelstein is correct in claiming that the primary sources used were inaccurately cited (i.e. omitting part of the quite or linking the quote when it should be linked), then I am more than willing to concede that Mr. Dershowitz is guilty of poor scholarship.

    While just as inexcusable however, even this does not meet the definition of plagiarism but would more then meet the definition of poor citation and perhaps even dishonesty.

    As John Bader, assistant dean for academic advising at Johns Hopkins University and the co-chairman of the university's ethics policy committee, said of relying on a single book for reference:

    "It may be sloppy scholarship, but it's not unethical... Over-reliance on one source to draw conclusions of any kind or to find other resources is lazy. It's not immoral. It's bad scholarship."

    http://www.forward.com/issues/2003/03.10.03/news18.dershowitz.html


    R Chand - 10/21/2003

    The following Letter to the Editor appeared in The Record, the newspaper of Harvard Law School.

    Source:
    http://www.hlrecord.org/news/530895.html

    Dershowitz's denials fail to convince

    Alan Dershowitz's denial of plagiarisms ("Dershowitz denies plagiarism charges," Oct.. 9) rings hollow. The wholesale lifting of quotations from Joan Peters' fraudulent book "From Time Immemorial" (1984) cannot be justified (see http://www.normanfinkelstein.com for a table documenting this). To use more than twenty exact quotes from another book without making due acknowledgments really does constitute a fatal failure of scholarship.

    One certainly hopes that first-year Harvard Law students will not follow Dershowitz's examples!

    Dershowitz's attack on Finkelstein is also unfounded and baseless. Finkelstein's scholarly work has been praised by, among others, Christopher R. Browning, Raul Hilberg, Ian Kershaw, Arno Mayer, and William Quandt. His four books, "Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict," "The Rise and Fall of Palestine," "A Nation on Trial," and "The Holocaust Industry" are major contributions, which were highly regarded by experts. His papers have been instrumental in exposing Peters' fraud and the errors of Goldhagen's book. Finkelstein's scholarship is guided by humanitarian values, as taught by his parents, both of whom lived through the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi concentrations camps.

    Palestinian villagers and denied that Israel uses torture on Palestinians (in spite of reports from international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International), and given tacit approval of the use of torture, Finkelstein has expressed solidarity with Palestinians and indeed stayed with Palestinian families living under Israel's brutal military occupation.

    Tanweer Akram


    R Chand - 10/21/2003


    See:
    http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/id143.htm

    For complete coverage of Dershowitz's hoax.


    M. Bacharach - 10/20/2003

    According to the article, Finkelstein documents "Dershowitz's wholesale lifting of source material from Joan Peters's monumental hoax." Perhaps I should have noted from the outset that I do not dispute the fraudulence of Peters book. However, I stress the words "source material" because Dershowtiz (to my knowledge) does not quote Peters, merely the sources Peters uses. If you are charging that Mark Twain or John Lewis never said those things Dershowitz (and Peters) ascribe to them, then that is a different issue altogether.

    My point is simply that it shouldn’t matter whether Dershowitz first read them in a comic book or Mein Kampf, so long as they are accurate to their source and are appropriately cited. Some of these quotes (especilly those of Twain) I have seen elsewhere. Should Dershowitz have cited, not only the sources, but every author who uses them? I have considered the comments made by others on this forum and respect our disagreements but by any university standard, I simply cannot see how this is plagiarism. For this reason, I believe the debate is more ideological than academic or legal. That is to say, I believe it is based more on the politics of Dershowitz than on whether he did indeed plagiarize.

    As for my previous message on Mr. Finjelstein’s integrity, I really don’t know enough about him to judge his motives or character in any depth, however, I believe I have read enough on his webpage to challenge the contention that he "possesses an awesome integrity."
    The following was taken from an article, citing Finkelstein in an interview… the article is on his own website:
    "The Jewish establishment was in a rush to shake down the Swiss on the banks issue, and used pressure exerted by agencies of the American government - [saying] that if they didn't pay up, they would be boycotted in the U.S. There is an extortion racket at work here, and for this alone the extortionists should have been thrown out of public life."
    These were his words, according to an article on his website, not that any of this should have any bearing on the legitimacy on his argument against Dershowitz one way or another.


    F.H. Thomas - 10/20/2003


    Thank you for your comments.

    I believe this may be more serious than you presume. Finkelstein will not let go, and the case is increasingly clear.

    Dershowitz is on the faculty ethics committee, and has recently given a speech in which he stated that dismissal was the rightful outcome for plagiarism, which is indeed the policy.

    No doubt some will want to keep him for political reasons, but hispolitical cover is fading fast. Remember that this is the same guys who argued for torture and preemptive killings in Israel. There is a notable coolness in the reporting on this in the Crimson.



    F.H. Thomas - 10/20/2003


    Thanks for your comments. A brief rejoinder:


    "I don’t believe that Professor Finkelstein is claiming that the quotes Dershowitz uses are a fraud."

    The fraud is Joan Peters' 1984 "From Time Immemorial", which twisted sources systematically to "prove" that there really were no Palestinians, only "seasonal migrants". This work has been universally described as a fraud, even by Ha'Arretz.

    "I disagree with the contention that Mr. Finkelstein "possesses an awesome integrity." He has accused noted intellectuals and Holocaust survivors as being greedy liars motivated by profit and an agent of what he calls "The Jewish establishment.""

    Actually, he calls it "The Holocaust Industry", and his book of that name is in its fourth edition. His targets include the shakedown of the Swiss banks, and the eventual recipients of the money, none of whom were Jewish account holders. Instead, the money went to Bronfman, Eagleburger, etc, or to their friends.

    Finkelstein became involved in this matter when his own parents were denied compensation for their sufferings in the holocaust, which was diverted to these "leaders". Since truth is an absolute defense in slander, none of these have been able to lay a glove on him. I would agree with you that this is unsavory, but not for Finkelstein's part in it.

    Come on board, and thank you again.


    J P Roos - 10/20/2003

    I am genuinely upset over the legalistic argumentation by both D himself and his defender Bacharach. If I take a book and use its references without checking the originals (the Twain quote confirms this) and then don't mention that I found the quote in another book, this is very unethical for a researcher and a completely different thing from legitimate use of secondary sources. And the second Dershowitz argument that he had no motivation for example to belittle the numbers of displaced Palestinians (2000 instead of 200 000), is not very convincing as a research argument (although it might convince a jury)


    S. Simmons - 10/18/2003

    Mr. Greenland, you have made some serious allegations against Prof. Dershowitz saying that he's plagiarised Ms. Peters' work.

    Now, would you have the courtesy to PROVE that the sources cited are those solely of Ms. Peters and no other.

    I can then provide you with an argument to the contrary.

    There are many books written about the American Civil War, and most of those also quote from the same, detailed sources. Do you now suggest that all authors citing from notable sources are plagiarists?

    Alternatively, are you of the opinion that in future all books regarding historical events should be only those of opinions, as opposed to facts, wherein reliable reference sources are cited?

    In my opinion, if this is what you're alluding to, then it will be a very sorry day indeed when the present day genocides of the Congolese and Sudanese will be recalled in the written word (or not, as the case may be).


    S. Simmons - 10/18/2003

    I'd still like to know why using the limited amount of historical texts relating to the middle east before the birth of Israel is called plagiarism by a few here?

    Many of those texts have been used countless times as sources for books on the middle eastern situation, both before and after Joan Peters' book. These texts recall facts, not opinions!

    The only fact that matters here is that Dershowitz disagrees with Finkelstein. A clash of egos!


    S. Simmons - 10/18/2003

    Maybe you don't understand that the facts quoted in Dershowitz's book have been quoted in other books too, because they're of a historical nature!

    Is it plagiarism to copy and use historical facts as a reference nowadays?


    M. Bacharach - 10/18/2003

    I am not aware that the accuracy of Dershowitz’s citations are in doubt. If they are, that is, if he has simply made up sources, or misquoted them, or failed to cite them, I would join in his condemnation and agree that he has lost all credibility. To my knowledge, however, that argument is not being made. He is simply being accused of not citing another piece of work that cites those same sources.

    You are absolutely right in you statement that "the biases and stature of either Dershowitz or Finklestein are really asides." They should have no bearing on the facts. However, since I find no factual evidence of any malfeasance on Mr. Dershowitz’s part, I do believe that the authors criticisms are, as I stated before "motivated more by disagreement over his conclusions than genuine academic concern."


    Ralph E. Luker - 10/17/2003

    If an author or his/her research staff takes primary references from a secondary source and does not bother to check the primary source for their accuracy and preferably citation to the primary source, as Dershowitz and his staff seem not to have done, the author's credibility is placed in doubt. Dershowitz surely wishes this had not happened. He will undoubtedly have some head-to-head conversations with his research staff. The biases and stature of either Dershowitz or Finklestein are really asides. Dershowitz will probably survive the embarrassment. Someone on his research staff probably won't.


    M. Bacharach - 10/17/2003

    I don’t believe that Professor Finkelstein is claiming that the quotes Dershowitz uses are a fraud. That is to say, I don’t believe that he is claiming that the quotes from the Palestine Royal Commission Report, or other various correspondences are inaccurate or were forged by Mr. Dershowitz. He is simply saying that Dershowitz read those quotes from another source and then choose to use those same quotes in his book, a charge that Mr. Dershowitz freely acknowledges. That is not plagiarism, especially since Deshowtiz did not take the ideas or conclusions from this other book, simply the reference materials. Anyone who does research in an area knows that the best way to find sources of information is by looking at the bibliography of another piece of research. This is accepted academic practice as far as I am concerned and I am 100% confident that Mr. Dershowitz’s career will not be effected in any way.

    As for Mr. Finkelstien’s so-called Jewish credentials, they mean nothing to me. Noam Chompsky is also Jewish and I doubt anyone can claim that he has no ideological agenda. I do not fault Mr. Finkelstein for disagreeing with Mr. Dershowitz’s opinion any more then I would fault Mr. Dershowtiz for pursuing his own ideological agenda. To suggest however, that Mr. Finkelstein is simply an objective scholar who cannot possibly be motivated by his own ideological agenda is, in my opinion, incorrect.

    As a side, I disagree with the contention that Mr. Finkelstein "possesses an awesome integrity." He has accused noted intellectuals and Holocaust survivors as being greedy liars motivated by profit and an agent of what he calls "The Jewish establishment." I find no integrity in his shameful characteristics although that was never my problem with his attack on Mr. Dershowitz.


    F.H. Thomas - 10/17/2003


    I believe that Finkelstein's point is twofold:

    1. That Dershowitz plagiarized extensively, and

    2. That the work he plagiarized is itself a recognized fraud, "From Time Immemorial" by Joan Peters, 1984

    Because of the second quote, it cannot actually be said that the "issues are not in dispute". Furthermore, Dershowitz is a member of the faculty ethics committee at Harvard, whose general policy is dismissal for plagiarism, or for deliberate fraud. It would appear that the professor's career is in deep water.

    I suggest that you visit Prof Finkelstein's web site. You may find that his parents survived the holocaust, and that he personally is very Jewish, and posesses an awesome integrity. The possibility of his doing this for ideological reasons is nil.





    M. Bacharach - 10/17/2003

    Having thoughtfully read Mr. Finkelstein’s argument, I find it wholeheartedly unconvincing. All the comments S. Simmons makes is absolutely correct. Mr. Dershowitz is a lawyer who is trying to make a legal case. I find the themes and introductions to those quotes cited above to be more than sufficiently different in nature as to clear Mr. Dershowitz of any plagiarism.

    As for the quotes he utilizes, so long as they are in fact authentic (a claim which does not seem to be in dispute), there is nothing academically dishonest about them. Would we require that all writers cite, not only the source of a quote, but every author who ever utilizes those same quotes?

    I would furthermore like to point out that regardless of whether you agree of disagree with his positions, Mr. Dershowitz is a noted legal scholar who teaches at the most prestigious school in the country. I find these attacks on his work to be, with due respect, foolish. I also believe that they are motivated more by disagreement over his conclusions than genuine academic concern.


    T. Hunt - 10/16/2003

    In the "debate" between Dershowitz and Finkelstein on "Democracy Now," Dershowitz behaved more like a participant on a talk show that encourages face-to-face confrontation than an academic, thereby undermining any real discussion of the issues raised by Finkelstein. Amy Goodman, the moderator, began by allowing Dershowitz to make a statement, which he did without interruption, but every time Finkelstein attempted to show the instances of plagiarism from the book, Dershowitz interrupted with questions and/or personal comments, or by simply attempting to shout over Finkelstein.

    During this "debate," Dershowitz never really answered Finkelstein's charges, instead turning the question away from plagiarism to questions of "authenticity." He constantly returned to the same argument presented by S. Simmons in this comment section: "if it's accurate, then what difference does it make where it comes from?" Scholarly standards have been established so we can examine the argument and the evidence presented rather than stop to ask questions about the reliability of the author using them. Even if Dershowitz's quotes turned out to accurately reflect original sources, this isn't the point - we still had to ask questions about his use of them because he didn't follow standard practice of evidence, and this subsequently raises significant questions about his conclusions. If he's willing to cut corners with the evidence (certainly the most crucial part of constructing the book's argument), what else is he willing to do to make his point?

    Since Dershowitz is a law professor, perhaps he would like to comment on the validity of evidence that suddenly appeared in court or in a lab without anyone being able to show how it got there from the crime scene? I seem to remember that in the OJ Simpson case, this issue was raised about some blood evidence and was used by the defense to suggest that there were holes in the prosecution's case. . . .


    Josh Greenland - 10/16/2003

    Ms./Mr. Simmons, you are really working hard to not understanding what Finkelstein is saying, with many very clear examples:

    Dershowitz grabbed whole sentences and groups of sentences from Peters' book, WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION, barely rewrote them and put them into his book. He ripped off another author's work, without quotation marks around the narrative portion of the offending passages or any other indication that he himself didn't originate the resulting text.

    This is plagiarism, whether or not you choose to understand what that word means. This is a serious offense among academics.

    What compounds the charge of plagiarism is the general consensus, based on documentary evidence, that the book he plagiarized from, Joan Peters' From Time Immemorial, is a hoax on a Bellesilean scale. The factual falsehood of Dershowitz' book has been proved to the extent that he borrowed "facts" from Peters' book.


    S. Simmons - 10/15/2003

    This is actually laughable if Finkelstein didn't take himelf so seriously. Citations are used to support the points the author is making. So the question should be, whether the citations are valid, i.e. whether they are true to the source cited. It does not matter whether somebody else used them before or not, but whether or not they are taken out of context they appear in the source.

    Actually a chart produced by Finkelstein shows that most likely the citations were used for different prepositions or conclusions by Peters and Dershowitz. The citations in Dershowitz's book are taken from consequtive pages, while in Peters' book they are sometimes as up to one hundred pages apart, which shows that the two authors used citations in a different context.

    Also it is legitimate to look for the sources in other peoples works, because researchers are not psychics, and can't guess all the sources. So reputable, or contraversial, works and author/scientists are always a good place to start. From there you go to other sources cited and so on. Anyone doing a research paper, or researching a factual book does this. And Finkelstein did this as well. So he is belittling himself, and I have no doubt that he would not object to Dershowitz using some of Peters sources, if Dershowitz's conclusions were closer to Finkelstein's ones.

    Moreover, considering that there are only a limited number of sources to the events of the past, after all, the ME conflict did not occupy the minds of "the world" as much before 1967 when Israel captured JS&G, it's inevitable that most historians use the same source. And I am sure that Finkelstein knows that too.

    My question is whether Finkelstein can disprove Dershowitz's book based on facts and the reasoning it presents? And if he can, why didn't he choose this much more respectable road?


    F.H. Thomas - 10/15/2003


    Clear, evenhanded, learned, and complete.

    Lovely post, Professor.


    Jonathan Dresner - 10/15/2003

    more than just copying text. Ideas and work need to be cited clearly and thoroughly as well.

    Yes, Dershowitz credits the "original" source material, but does so in such a way that obscures his reliance on secondary sources. If research is to be truly reliable, it must be pretty transparent about its origins: Dershowitz's reliance on a secondary source should be noted because it introduces the possibility of another layer of distortion; I'm not saying that either Dershowitz or his source are distorting the record, though that has also been argued, but that as a reader I want to know how reliable the evidence is and that is related to distance from original source.

    More to the point, Dershowitz is taking the work done by another, compiling these particular sources and creating this particular line of argument, and claiming it as some sort of original work.

    I'm sorry, but this fits any professional definition of plagiarism. Dershowitz will probably hide behind the "research assistant" defense (though Belleseiles' damaged notes is pretty creative, too), though I think a more believable explanation is the different standards of source use in different fields. At least that's the best explanation my Harvard students usually came up with when I caught them.....


    S. Simmons - 10/15/2003

    Prof. Finkelstein seems to be accusing Prof. Dershowitz of plagiarising old texts which are historical records. These texts are in the public domain and are there for all to read, if they want information about a certain period in time. They are historical facts which seem to bear each other out very well.

    If you wrote a book about the Great Fire of London, and used some of the quotes from Samuel Pepys diary, would it mean that you would be plagiaring someone else who had quoted Pepys before you?

    This whole allegation is preposterous!


    Irfan Khawaja - 10/14/2003

    I have to comment on David Greenberg's pathetic attack on Finkelstein here. He opens it by saying that "two years ago no one had heard of Norman Finkelstein." Actually, I heard of Finkelstein way back in the 1980s--when he demolished Joan Peters's fraudulent book, From Time Immemorial. I heard of him again when I followed his writings in the Journal of Palestine Studies and elsewhere. And again and again as he published throughout the 1990s. In fact, anyone who has studied the historiography of Israel/Palestine has heard of Finkelstein, and it takes a true moron to tout ignorance of his name as a badge of honor. While we're on the subject: did anyone hear from David Greenberg back in the 1980s when Peters's book was published? If so, I'd love to hear what he had to say on the subject.

    I don't agree with everything Finkelstein says--in fact, I vehemently reject much of it. But I suggest that our "Whiting Fellow at Columbia" open a logic textbook when he get a chance, and figure out how to string an argument together before he lectures us on the demands of historiography. In the fallacies section of that book, he'll learn about hitherto unheard-of things like "ad hominem," "poisoning the well," the "strawman fallacy" and the like. He may not have heard of any of it before, but I can assure him it's territory worth exploring.


    John Cuepublic - 10/14/2003

    If there was no attribution to Peters in these passages, then Dershowitz has committed wholesale, blatant and utterly inexcusable plagiarism.

    If memory serves, Dershowitz was also part of the team that helped con the jury into letting O.J. Simpson off. Evidently honesty and fairness are not values held in high regard by Dershowitz. I suspect there is more to this story than what appears here. What do people at Harvard say ?

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