Saturday, June 16, 2007
Ordinarily, I would not post on an academic freedom matter here, but the extraordinary, and extraordinarily irresponsible, involvement of Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz in smearing and maligning Professor Finkelstein--who has now been denied tenure by administrators, despite unanimous or lopsided majority votes in favor of tenure by his academic colleages--makes the case noteworthy for the legal academic community. A Los Angeles attorney who examined Professor Dershowitz's criticisms of Finkelstein with some care found them wholly lacking in merit; and a faculty committee in the Department of Political Science at DePaul that examined Dershowitz's charges of "academic misconduct" against Finkelstein also found them misleading and without foundation. (It turns out that even Dershowitz's most sensational charge, about an offensive cartoon portraying him ludely, was without merit, since Professor Finkelstein had nothing to do with the cartoon that some website independently appended to one of Finkelstein's articles.)
I have more details about the case, and the response to it (including a link to a well-crafted letter calling for DePaul to revisit the decision, which I hope concerned law professors will sign), here. Professor Dershowitz's misrepresentations of the work of a professional colleague have been so egregious that one may have some sympathy for the observation of John Gardner--the Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford University, and a visiting professor of law, in recent years, at Yale, Texas, and Columbia--who, in signing the letter noted above, remarked: "To my mind this business reveals only one person who should clearly not be enjoying the privileges and immunities of tenure, and that one person is not Norman Finkelstein."