Alan Dershowitz and Norman Finkelstein: A Bitter Spat Over Ideas, Israel and Tenure

Historians in the News

If the longstanding fight between two professors, Alan Dershowitz and Norman Finkelstein, was under the jurisdiction of family court, a judge could issue restraining orders and forbid inflammatory statements. But, alas, this nasty and zealously pursued feud is taking place in scholarly precincts, so each protagonist is continuing his campaign, unhampered, to destroy the other’s professional reputation and career.

In the latest round, first reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Mr. Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard and a prominent defender of Israel, is trying to derail Mr. Finkelstein’s bid for tenure at DePaul University in Chicago. He has sent a blast of e-mail messages to faculty and administrators there accusing Mr. Finkelstein of shoddy scholarship, lying and anti-Semitism.

Mr. Finkelstein, who is going before a university-wide review panel on Friday, the third and final step of the tenure process, said that so far two committees — one from the political science department and one from the college as a whole — voted in favor of tenure. But the college dean rejected his advisory committee’s vote and recommended against an appointment.

“I am personally confident that had the process been without outside interferences, I would have gotten tenure,” Mr. Finkelstein said. (Tenure decisions will be announced in June, said Denise Mattson, a spokeswoman for DePaul.)...
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