Academic Freedom and Israel-Palestine: The Case of Beyond Chutzpah

انت الان تتصفح النسخة القديمة من موقعمؤسسة الدراسات الفلسطينية

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VOL. 35

2005/06

No. 2
P. 85
Special Document File
Academic Freedom and Israel-Palestine: The Case of Beyond Chutzpah
ABSTRACT

A. University of California Press, Statement on the Publication of Beyond Chutzpah, Berkeley, 14 July 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

B. Alan M. Dershowitz, Letter to Niels Hooper, Acquisitions Editor of the University of California Press, 19 November 2004.

C. Avi Shlaim, Confidential Peer Review of Beyond Chutzpah for the University of California Press, 9 February 2005.

D. Jon Wiener, “Giving Chutzpah New Meaning,” Nation, 11 July 2005 . . . .

E. Alan M. Dershowitz and Jon Wiener, “Tsuris over Chutzpah,” Nation, 29 August 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

F. Jennifer Howard, “Calif. Press Will Publish Controversial Book on Israel,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 22 July 2005 (excerpts) . . . . . . . . . . .

During the past year JPS has devoted two Special Document Files (JPS 134 and 136) to academic freedom, specifically the campaign Campus Watch and other pro-Israel organizations orchestrated against Columbia University’s Department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC). At stake was the issue of who decides how the Palestine-Israel conflict is to be taught in the academy—certified specialists or interested outside parties. Almost the same issue is addressed in the current Special Document File: who decides what university presses can publish on the Palestine-Israel conflict—certified specialists or interested outside parties? Specifically, the file focuses on the campaign waged by Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz to suppress publication of Norman Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. Finkelstein's study inventories how Dershowitz’s best-selling book, The Case for Israel, misrepresented the documentary record and that the widely publicized allegation of a “new anti-Semitism” was contrived to deflect criticism of Israel.

This file covers only the controversy surrounding the publication of Beyond Chutzpah. The subsequent fate of the book poses equally troubling questions about the American intellectual culture. Since its release in late August, and despite massive pre-release publicity as well as the respectability conferred by University of California Press’s imprint, Beyond Chutzpah has not received a single review in a mainstream U.S. publication. The fact that a legendary trial lawyer was unable to make good on his threat to sue the press for libel and that major Israeli and American academics provided powerful endorsements for the book, further attests to the accuracy of Finkelstein's findings. That his book is being ignored while The Case for Israel continues to be cited as a reference is a vivid illustration of what seems to be the growing gap between the facts on the Middle East as accepted by scholars and the representation of the Middle East situation to the wider public.