Some Professional Observations on the Controversy about Nadia Abu El-Haj’s First Book

PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 21, 2007

I did not want to talk about this controversy at first, especially while it was being decided at Barnard. That stage of the scrutiny is now over and the introductory paragraphs of the recent opposing Internet petitions show that plenty of bad faith is being exercised on both sides. That is what I want to address. The academy is not in danger from the Internet. Neither academic freedom nor freedom of speech are being eroded by outside discussions of this controversial book, though a great deal of the discussion seems to me to be simply uninformed. Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj has been accorded all the privileges given to every other faculty member, including choice of what to teach. The tenure procedures are going on as scheduled and I doubt that the Internet is having a negative effect on them. If anything, some faculty falsely think that academic freedom is under siege at Barnard and hence have increased their sympathy for the candidate. But the Internet is not the only enemy of reason in this battle. Barnard’s Appointments, Tenure, and Promotion committee is elected and faculty elections can be decided by very small groups of people acting as provocateurs. Nor does that completely describe the possible ways in which this decision could have been affected by undisclosed personal biases. Even the confidential letter writers can be chosen and weighted to advocate for a specific outcome, as anyone who has served on tenuring committees knows. The result is that this particular tenure case is just as debatable for incidents and prejudices within our walls as outside it.

I have not made a secret of my opposition to this candidacy and, as a result, I too have had to deal with hurtful and prejudicial statements, mostly from within our community. But my objections have not been well understood by my colleagues. I have been labeled a fascist and an instigator, unfair to junior faculty, and the organizer of the opposition against her. I have also been directly accused by a person in some responsibility at Barnard of making a death threat against professor Nadia Abu El-Haj. Many have told me that I only oppose her because I am Jewish or because I feel I must represent the wishes of the Jewish community. None of these charges have any truth to them at all. But it has shown me that the Internet is not the only place to find inanities. We need to be more circumspect about our own discourse and polemics. So I welcome this chance to clarify my perspective.

Let me address only two of the issues that have been raised in this discussion: the notion that everyone who opposes Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj is a rightist engaging in a witch-hunt and the equally difficult notion that the central issue about professor Nadia Abu El-Haj’s book on Israeli archaeology is her knowledge of modern Hebrew, one important issue from each side of the Internet discussion.

The issue is not only whether professor Abu El-Haj speaks Hebrew well enough to interview, or reads it well enough to understand scholarly arguments, assimilate them, and generalize about the value of Israeli archaeology. Literary skills are plainly much more advanced and important in this case than speaking skills. Perhaps she has read the newspapers in Hebrew, even though there are perfectly good English Web sites for all the newspapers she quotes, or spoken Hebrew to Israeli archaeologists, who regularly speak English to the volunteers in any case. She does make some simple mistakes in Hebrew at several important places in her book, especially in the chapters on Hebrew place names, but also including one that affects her conclusions about Israelis secularizing ancient concepts. Contrary to her opinion, “bayyit” does mean “temple” in ancient Hebrew: “the Hebrew terms secularizing in their effect insofar as the word ‘temple’ is absent” (p. 132). In any case, in her dissertation, on which the book is based, she states that most of her interviews were conducted in English or Arabic.

A parallel issue is her inability to deal with written sources: A book about Israeli archaeology, however abstract or sophisticated its theory may allegedly be, must be about archaeology done by Israelis, and must involve reading many books and articles in Israeli journals of archaeology but, pace Lisa Wedeen, chair of the political science department at the University of Chicago and scholar of the modern Middle East, there are too few Hebrew archaeological articles or books in her bibliography. There are few enough to wonder about the basis for her judgments about Israeli archaeology. I realize that there are other important issues in the book but this deficit must certainly be a crucial one.

In support of her thesis, professor Abu El-Haj presents Israeli archaeology as monolithic. She is either unaware, or simply does not tell her readers how fractious Israeli scholarship is, in general, or how impossible it is to come to any positive opinion or consensus about what Israelis think on any subject, ancient or modern. When she cites an Israeli archaeologist, she rarely cites any opponents but they are never lacking in Israeli journal literature. Also, one of her most trusted sources is an American writer on archaeology—a good writer, I think—but neither an archaeologist nor an Israeli and, hence, of limited use to her argument. She should disclose this, as she repeatedly relies on him in reaching her conclusions but does not alert her readers to the limitations of using him as a source. Perhaps she is unaware that he is an American science writer, a popularizer (an important skill for reaching non professional audiences), and not a practicing archaeologist? But she should be mindful and make the reader aware of his predilection for some scholars and against others, not merely accept his judgments without comment.

But the most important issue is how she handles evidence in general, and this concern manifests itself in several areas. One locus of her failure is the anonymity of her sources. A Barnard anthropologist in the religion department, roughly a decade ago, was turned down for tenure, in large part because of arguments from the anthropology department: She protected the identity of her major informant with a false name, even though she produced the “anonymous” person (who lectured at the college and answered all the questions of the search committee). At the time, the anthropology department was quite intransigent on this point. Now they are equally intransigent on the other side. A revolution in scholarly methodology? Let us not raise the implication of bias, only inconsistency. But I know for a fact that some very effective lobbyists for professor Abu El-Haj, associated with Barnard’s anthropology department, did not even read her book until after the Barnard consideration was over.

A statement supported by one, anonymous, oral report is an unsupported statement, and several of such statements are crucial to professor Abu El-Haj’s conclusions: that Israelis deliberately mislabel Christian sites as Jewish and tear down churches (p. 233, among others); that they use bull-dozers to level sites and wipe out evidence of Palestinian habitation (pp. 148, 153, 157). No respectable journalist would publish on the basis of one anonymous report and, if these were actually supportable, they would not have escaped notice for long in field reports or archaeological discussions, which can be quite vituperative in Israel. Israeli archaeologists have no fear of criticizing each other and are extremely talented writers, being literate in several languages. It’s hard to believe any secret that could be bandied about to a hostile stranger reporter would avoid disclosure somewhere in their very argumentative journals and books.

Her most outrageous charge—that bulldozers are being used in contemporary archaeology (p. 148)—has been proven false by the field reports and the testimony of David Usshishkin, the person in charge of the Jezreel dig during the time in question and a very well known archaeologist with an impeccable reputation. What was used was a power arm, a much smaller and more refined instrument, perfectly acceptable in salvage digs as this sector was. (Incidentally, there was no Arab evidence at all in the sector in question.)

The chair of the anthropology department at Barnard (whose father, apparently, was once a bulldozer-using archaeologist) assured me that the difference between a power arm and a bulldozer is trivial. I do not think the difference trivial today, if it ever was. There is a huge difference between a giant leveling blade and a manipulatable, very small, power digging instrument but it is professor Abu El-Haj who emphasizes the importance of the use of bulldozers (p. 148-9). A great deal of the argument of the book depends on the charge being right as rain. But it is false, even misleading. The field reports bear out the Israeli archaeologist, not her. And if this is so in this extremely important case, should we not suspect that there are other egregious mistakes in her other single-sourced, anonymous, oral reporting—especially as the anonymous charges do not appear in the dissertation, the document which was vetted by a distinguished and responsible committee at Duke?

A larger and more pervasive issue concerns her inability to make judgments in biblical history. Her claims have been characterized by supporters in Spectator as follows: “Professor Abu El-Haj’s disputed book made the argument that the state of Israel, like many other modern states, seeks legitimacy from ancient history at a damaging cost.” This statement severely understates the claims of the book but it is a more accurate description of her dissertation, upon which the book was based. For the book, her further claims are that the production of Israeli archaeological knowledge is uniquely fanciful, more than other national archaeological schools, due to their colonial settler mentality, and that Israeli archaeologists perforce uniquely produce far more themselves than the evidence allows because they are citizens of this colonial settler state. This is announced at the very beginning of the book and is hard to miss: “the colonial dimension of Jewish settlement in Palestine cannot be sidelined if one is to understand the significance and consequences of archaeological practice...” (p. 4). I am only quoting a small portion of her discussion there, which goes on for some pages with further arguments about the added and uniquely colonial nature of Israeli archaeology, among other things.

Most pointedly, professor Abu El-Haj feels that there was no good evidence of Israelite occupation of the area before Israeli archaeologists did their work. She characterizes Israeli archaeologists as disguising myth as history: “the mythical character of the biblical narratives is effaced” (p. 127), as an example or “a tale best understood as the modern nation’s origin myth was transported into the realm of history” (p. 104) as another. She ignores the possibility that the archaeologists may have been trying in good faith to ascertain what was historical, given their data and historical context. As she makes these claims she footnotes specific scholars from a particular school of biblical scholarship—“the biblical minimalists” (e.g., see reference to Thomas Thompson on p. 127). A person unfamiliar with biblical scholarship might miss the import of these references but the implication is clear. Professor Abu El-Haj has necessarily made some radical assumptions about what biblical history actually tells us.

When it comes to what can actually be known about Israelite occupation of the land, professor Abu El-Haj makes almost exclusive use of these biblical minimalists, no more than a handful of scholars really, out of the thousands at work in the world. Many of my colleagues at Barnard seem to believe that the biblical minimalism controversy describes fundamentalists on one side with rational discourse about the Bible on the other. Nothing could be further from the truth. Biblical minimalism concerns the nature of the evidence for Israelite presence in Canaan during First Temple times (ca. 950-587 B.C.E.). Being a biblical minimalist is not a crime; but the school is often consciously infused with modern Middle Eastern politics in ways that are hard to ignore.

Nevertheless, biblical scholars regularly read them, accept some small part of what they claim, and reject most other parts. Their questions, if not their answers, are always interesting. Professor Abu El-Haj frequently uses their most extreme conclusions about archaeology uncritically as proof that Israelis tell us more than the archaeological record shows. None of the minimalist scholars she relies upon for this purpose is actually a working archaeologist or an Israeli, though there are Israeli minimalist archaeologists, who mostly disagree with her.

But how could professor Abu El-Haj possibly make a decision about the claims of biblical scholars or archaeologists in the First Temple period? To make an independent, informed judgment, she would need to know not modern Hebrew conversation, but ancient Hebrew literature, and for the First Temple Period, which is her particular target, also Aramaic, Ugaritic (a significant Canaanite language), certainly all the many and significant North West Semitic epigraphy (inscriptions) relevant to this period, comparative Semitic grammar and syntax, comparative literary studies in Akkadian and Egyptian, and biblical stylistics. These credentials are in no way unusual for graduate students in Bible, and many of them also study far more exotic languages—like Akkadian, Egyptian, Hittite or Sumerian—as well as develop an understanding of ancient Near Eastern culture and history. There are literally hundreds of inscriptions from the First Temple period, together giving much interesting and debated evidence of an ethnicity called Israel who worship a divinity called YHWH. The most important and longest of these inscriptions were discovered in the 19th and early 20th century, considerably before there was any country called Israel or any significant Israeli archaeology. In fact, one major and effective argument against the biblical minimalists is that they cannot adequately explain away this inscriptional evidence. She herself never engages the basic issues concerning the Merneptah Stela, the Moabite Stela, the Siloam Inscription, the Tel Dan Inscription, the evidence from seals and bullae or any of the important inscriptional finds but they speak strongly against her conclusions about ancient Israel. She has only disputed one ethnic identifier for Israel—collared rim pottery—but ignored several others: theophoric names, evidence of circumcision, the presence or absence of pig bones, stone jars and later, immersion pools, depictions of ritually important plants, depictions of ritual objects or the Temple or biblical scenes like the sacrifice of Isaac. As a result, she believes that Israel was not an historical presence in the land but a myth. Biblical minimalists normally stop disputing this at the beginning of the Second Temple period but she often appears to push it further, even to the time of Jesus.

Professor Abu El-Haj makes major judgments about the Jewish character of Jerusalem in New Testament times, including that Herodian Jerusalem was not a Jewish city, a most extreme opinion (p. 175-176). She also says that Jerusalem was not a Jewish city after the destruction of the Jewish state because Jews were in the minority during much of its recent history. Would she then consider that the old city of Jerusalem is not now an Arab city because Arabs are now a minority there? These are not casual observations but critical ones, logically necessary to her analysis of the errors of Israeli archaeological museums. By rights, to come to these conclusions she should also be familiar with ancient classical historians, Syriac and Greek, Josephus, Philo, and New Testament scholarship, to say nothing about early rabbinic literature and possibly Latin language and literature. Other than the odd quotation from Josephus, there is little evidence of this either. Without engaging these bodies of knowledge she has no grounds for siding with a bare logical possibility about the events which produced “The Burnt House,” for example, against the consensus of international, not just Israeli, scholarship (p. 145).

Without many of these tools, she could not make a judgment about even a footnote or a textual reading in a biblical minimalist article, to say nothing of one of their many conflicting histories of biblical times, Old Testament or New. She merely takes only those statements which most agree with her own tenuous contentions, and that is something that no Bible scholar, no anthropologist, and no archaeologist should ever do.

But she has no choice: pretty much every other one of the virtually countless theories about Israelite settlement in First Temple times would disprove her hypothesis about Israeli archaeology. Not only does she not know these fields, but she does not tell her readers about them, or why they are necessary, or how decisions are actually made in biblical studies. So, it is no wonder that anthropologists, who cannot be expected to know these disciplines either, so easily go along with her. Nor can they be expected to know that her Palestinian claims to the lands of Jebusites (Jerusalem) and other Canaanites, for example, depend solely on the very Bible whose historicity she has just impugned and that all known records of these people list them as separate ethnicities (pp. 258-272).

I am not a member of the right wing in Israel or the United States or in Bible scholarship and I sympathize with the desire to have a diverse faculty. Professor Abu El-Haj appears to be an estimable candidate for tenure: a woman who likes to study her field in an interdisciplinary way and identifies herself as a member of a minority persecuted by various peoples in the world, by no means only by Israelis. But she is also, I think, an American citizen and certainly from a prosperous family, which gives her many advantages over her more unfortunate fellow Palestinians. Her identity and her far less polemical dissertation have benefited her in academic life. It is no wonder she has received so many prizes and honors and it is no wonder that so many Barnard faculty are for her candidacy without ever having read a word of her work or understood her lack of preparation for judging issues in biblical studies. It makes sense. We should be looking for people like her.

But the issue in a tenure scrutiny must be focused on the quality of the work. My opinion comes after having read her dissertation and her book carefully, after having served for six years on Barnard’s ATP committee, and after having been a chair myself, charged with preparing cases in my department, as well as being professionally interested in the fields she needs to make her case. My judgment is “No.” Her theory of the production of knowledge in science based on archaeology in Israel is worth little without clear substantiating data. The book is so tendentious that even were a second book-length manuscript available, which one normally expects in this field for tenure in our university, it would probably not change my judgment. Why should we be stampeded into tenuring her, just because there has been negative discussion of her work on the Internet? Ironically, she would have been more successful if she published her dissertation as it is. I respect her desire to add a whole new dimension to her work since her dissertation but it is clear to me that the whole enterprise was unsuccessful.
My negative evaluation has nothing to do with her ethnic identity, her gender, or even her opinions about modern Israel. Some people will disbelieve me but those people are essentializing me to dismiss the evidence without considering it. All the characteristics of her identity and development are reasons to have her on campus. A whiff of controversy, however, should not be fanned into a conflagration of prejudice guaranteeing her tenure. We all live in the Internet age and have to face the consequences. My reasons for turning her down are professional, not political. They have everything to do with her inability to deal in any scholarly way with her stated data. Her book has already been shown as insufficient and biased research by many published reviews from very competent Bible scholars and archaeologists, some of whom have been vilified and ignored for extraneous reasons. There would be many more such reviews if the book were better known among Bible scholars. How could any of this be good for teaching or for the scholarly reputation of Barnard? Columbia should take notice too. This is no time to compromise with hotheads of either side.

The author is the Ingeborg Rennert Professor of Jewish Studies at Barnard College.

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the sentence "...but, pace Lisa Wedeen, chair of the political science department at the University of Chicago and scholar of the modern Middle East, there are too few Hebrew archaeological articles or books in her bibliography..." originally read "...according to Lisa Wedeen..." In fact, in an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Wedeen praised Abu El-Haj's work as being "replete with Hebrew sources, both written and oral."

View other corrected stories

Article Tools:

View Comments ( 92)

Post a Comment

chejzu Hi, Nice! http://t3453734783est0.com [url=http://t3453734783est1.com]test1[/url] test2

I think I have to intervene here to clarify the need for a correction. The version I sent to the Spec. had the following text: "pace [in italics] Lisa Wedeen... ." In so doing, I was pointing to my difference of opinion with Professor Wedeen and also that she had spoken on the subject. The Spec editors apparently did not understand my usage and corrected it to "according to..." which has a converse meaning. The error was made by the editors, not me. When I discovered the error, I promptly asked them to print a correction, which they did. But they did not fully explain how the error had happened. This seems to have occasioned some discussion so I want to clarify the situation.

Alan Segal is a Zionist hack and a shill for right-wing Israeli pseudo-academics who sully the American system of higher learning with their racist and cynical screeds manufactured solely to sow doubt about Israeli war crimes and provide cover for its six decade reign of terror in the Middle East.

It is indeed sad and tragic that our academic institutions harbor such thought criminals.

Mind your manners, please. Alan Segal is a highly regarded scholar. When he has scholarly observations to share, his years of dedication to scholarship and to Barnard earn him the right to a hearing.

You are free to read his article and raise intelligent points of disagreemtne.

But, please, no name-calling.

I applaud Professor Segal's professional observations on Nadia Abu El-haj's controversial book "Facts on the Goround".If her book is based largely on interviews conducted in English and Arabic but not in Hebrew, and furthemore if she protects the anonymity of her sources, then she has squandered a valuable tool of academic research, namely the provision of adequate reference for verification.Such research methods may be perfectly valid for interpreting the perspectives of the interviewees and the society in which they live. They do not however, constitute a basis for inventing revisionist history.
As a biblical scholar, Professor Segal is superbly qualified to question Dr. Abu El-Haj's claims of biblical scholarship regarding the period of the First Temple. Her credentials appear to be iinsufficient to make informed judgments on the continuity of a Jewish presence in the Holy Land from antiquity to the present day. Without a commitment to accuracy of evidence and examination of all available data and without a working lnowledege of Hebrew, an indispensable tool for examining Israeli archaeology,Dr. Abu El-Haj's work is reduced to idealogical bias.
AS am alumna of Barnard College,I shudder to think that vulnerable young and bright sutdents at Barnard could be exposed to shoddy scholarship.This is contrary to the spirit of open and genuine learning that I, and generations of students at Barnard have experienced. As such Dr. Abu El-haj does not belong at Barnard College of Columbia University.

From PaleoJudaica:

REVIEW OF NADIA ABU EL-HAJ, FACTS ON THE GROUND: Archaeological Practice and Terriorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001)

I've been following the media coverage of this book for some time, and have even been selectively quoted on it. A couple of people have encouraged me to comment on it, so now that I've read it I may as well post some thoughts. Much that has occurred to me as I read it has already been said elsewhere, but I will try not to be too repetitive. For background, see here and follow the links back.

Abu El-Haj outlines her basic assumptions in a number of places in the book, starting with the first chapter. She offers a post-structuralist and post-colonial critique of archaeology, in which facts are determined contextually by class and other interests. Reality is largely conditioned by what we do in and to it and not by what we think. Archaeology has a peculiar authority since it tends to be taken as providing given facts. In Israel, archaeology emerged as a principal site for the reenactment of Jewish presence with the objective of colonizing Palestine to turn it into Eretz Yisrael (pp. 9, 11, 13,18, 21). Israeli archaeologists do not recognize their own complicity in this "settlement project," whether or not they support it (p. 236). In response to these issues she advocates a "post-Zionist archaeology." And she concludes, with Edward Said, that objective knowledge and its supposed universalism is "Eurocentric in the extreme" and these disciplines (the case in question being Israeli archaeology) gelled within particular colonial contexts (p. 278).

I am paraphrasing here, but I believe accurately. On the one hand, the point is well taken that archaeology, especially when we attempt to correlate it with ancient texts, requires a good deal of interpretation and cannot be regarded as a body of raw, objective facts. But on the other hand, I would say that her philosophical framework crosses the line into anti-realism, a position for which I have little sympathy.

Much of the book deals with matters outside my expertise and on which I have no comment. These include, for example, the Ordinance Survey of Western Palestine and the excavation work of Sir Flinders Petrie in Palestine (chapter 2); the first Yedia'at Ha'aretz conference in 1943 (chapter 3); the early projects of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society and the Governmental Names Committee to recover or assign Hebrew names to geographical locations in Palestine (chapter 4); and various museums in Jerusalem (chapter 8). I leave these matters to others who have expertise on them. I will focus my comments on matters about which I do know something, along with some more general observations on method and presentation.

Chapter 5, "Positive Facts of Nationhood," looks at the archaeological work of Yigael Yadin (who advocated a "violent conquest" model for ancient Israelite origins) and Yohanan Aharoni (who held to a "peaceful infiltration" model), and offers a facile psychologizing of both men (Yadin was a military leader and Aharoni was much involved in the Kibbutz movement). Abu El-Haj then argues that their work traced the record by means of archaeology and the Bible, but was heavily influenced by their nationalism. Despite their infamous falling out, they agreed much more than they disagreed and ultimately the argument was over historical details, with the agreed terms of the argument involving texts, dates, and pots. In particular, the data from Hazor Area A (excavated by Yadin) was furnished by the texts with a potential narrative that could not have been gotten from the excavated remains themselves. She says that the earliest of these texts "were composed in the Hellenistic period" (p. 123), an extreme late dating that would be rejected by almost all specialists. No hint of the extremity of this view is given in her discussion. She seems to have doubts about the validity of speaking of 'Israelite" pottery, although she does not (and as far as I know does not have the training to) argue for another interpretation.

I think it is fair to say that the interpretation of remains found at places like Hazor in light of the biblical texts produced an apparently empirical historical narrative of Israelite origins that had a certain Israeli nationalist propaganda value. It is also fair to say that this historical narrative now at best requires extensive rethinking and at worst was simply wrong. This is a legitimate cautionary tale about the use of archaeology for political purposes.

That said, two points are worth adding. The first is that much of the critique of these earlier archaeological reconstructions has come from Israeli archaeologists. This is no nationalist orthodoxy twisting the outcome of the archaeology of the region. The second point is that the fundamental scientific integrity of Israeli archaeologists in following standard methods and subjecting their work to rigorous peer scrutiny forms the starkest contrast to the ahistorical propaganda disseminated by the Palestinian leadership at all levels and by their supporters in the Arab world and beyond. The obvious example is the routine denial that a Jewish Temple ever stood on the Temple Mount (to pick just a few examples, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here -- and note my responses here and here). The Israeli archaeologists are at least trying, even though they sometimes get it wrong and even though their biases may sometimes color their conclusions.

Chapter 6, "Excavating Jerusalem," contains the now infamous accusation that David Ussishkin's excavation at Jezreel used bulldozers. (For his response, see here). Without going into that again for the moment, I note as an aside her statement in the same context on the same page (148):
Among Palestinian officials at the Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount - JRD] and the Awqaf as well as many other archaeologists--Palestinian and European or American (trained)--the use of bulldozers has become the ultimate sign of "bad science" and of nationalist politics guiding research agendas. Critics situate this practice squarely within (a specific understanding of) the politics of a nationalist tradition of archaeological research.
Current events on the Temple Mount involving excavation by bulldozer cast some serious doubt on the commitment of the Palestinian officials and the Awqaf to this principle, although, to be fair, the IAA doesn't come out looking all that well either.

As has already been noted by Alan Segal, Abu El-Haj makes the odd claim on p. 132 that the Hebrew word bayit, "house," is a secularizing term that avoids the term "temple." This is a striking error, since anyone with a basic grasp of either Biblical or Modern Hebrew would be well aware that in contexts relating to the Temple, bayit is the word one would normally use.

Abu El-Haj has been criticized quite a lot for floating the idea a couple of times (pp. 144-46, plus pp. 212-13 in chapter 8) that ash layers excavated in Jerusalem which clearly date around 70 CE need not be from the Roman destruction of the city, but could come from other causes including conflicts among Jewish groups as noted by Josephus. I think this is actually interesting out-of-the-box thinking of the type that can be quite useful for helping us to question our assumptions and ask new questions of our data. But here she is just using the suggestion for its propaganda value (or, as she could perhaps legitimately argue, its counter-propaganda value), rather than developing it as a serious attempt to explain the excavation evidence. Her additional speculation that the fire could have been accidental is theoretically possible, but strains credulity. Her point is valid that we should not interpret the archaeological remains in light of the texts and then simplistically claim those remains as verification of the texts. But, that granted, we must also not fall into a hyper-skepticism that keeps us from analyzing all our evidence and formulating hypotheses based on the balance of probability.

In chapter 8, "Historical Legacies," she shows that tour guides can be good or bad, not just in terms of perspective and nuance, but even in terms of getting basic facts right. But this hardly applies only to Israeli tour guides. Museum displays and films sometimes also have problems (see, e.g., this display in the Oriental Institute), and the claim in the Burnt House Museum film that the ash layer can be dated to a particular day is indeed ridiculous, as Abu El-Haj indicates. Josephus gives this date for the destruction of the Upper City of Jerusalem and it appears that, once the connection between that ash layer and that destruction was made, someone inferred the date based on his comment. If the transcription of the film's sound track is accurate, the script-writer clearly misunderstood the process of inference.

Two other specific passages in the book struck me as also requiring comment. Chapter 9, "Archaeology and Its Aftermath," looks at Israeli archaeology in relation to both Palestinians and Ultra-Orthodox Jews. While discussing the problem of looting in an anti-colonial politicial context Abu El-Haj writes (p. 255):
Although never argued by [Palestinian archaeologist Nazmi] Ju'beh, looting could well be analyzed as a form of resistance to the Israeli state and an archaeological project, understood by many Palestinians, to stand at the very heart of Zionist historical claims to the land. In James Scott's words, looting is perhaps "a weapon of the weak."
I can't think of any other way to read this than as a -- granted, tentatively, but still unambiguously phrased -- political justification of the looting of archaeological sites. I think this is one of the most disturbing passages in the book and I am surprised not to have encountered any other comments on it so far.

The other passage is on the last pages (280-81) of chapter 10, "Conclusions."
In producing the material signs of national history that became visible and were witnessed across the contemporary landscape, archaeology repeatedly remade the colony into an ever-expanding national terrain. It substantiated the nation in history and produced Eretz Yisrael as the national home. It is within the context of that distinctive history of archaeological practice and settler nationhood that one can understand why it was that "thousands of Palestinians stormed the site" of Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus, looting it and setting it alight during the renewed intifada that rocked Palestine and Israel in the fall of 2000 ... Joseph's tomb was not destroyed simply because of its status as a Jewish religious shrine. The symbolic resonance of its destruction reaches far deeper than that. It needs to be understood in relation to a colonial-national history in which modern political rights have been substantiated in and expanded through the material signs of historic presence. In destroying the tomb, Palestinian demonstrators eradicated one "fact on the ground."
It is possible that Abu El-Haj is simply offering a explanation of the mentality behind the actions of the marauders here and perhaps we should assume this more charitable interpretation. But I was struck by the fact that there is no condemnation of the desecration of this site and it is equally possible to read the passage as a justification of the actions of the mob (especially given her quoted statement from p. 255 above). I wish she had helped us out a little more to read what she says in the more charitable light.

Now some general observations. Whatever the specific facts, the way Abu El-Haj presents her arguments sometimes fall into patterns that raise concerns.

She has been widely criticized for her use of anonymous sources, and she does cite these an awful lot. In many cases she is telling an anecdote or relating that someone expressed an opinion and it makes little difference who said it (e.g., pp. 199, 211, 212, 236, 251, 252). But other cases involve testimony about important matters and serious accusations and it does seem inappropriate that these should be anonymous. Examples are the eyewitness testimony to details of the Israeli demolition of the Maghariba Quarter (p. 165); the accusation by an archaeologist that a "right-wing colleague" "was constantly labeling Christian sites Jewish" (p. 233); an archaeologist reporting on encounters with haredim at certain archaeological digs (p. 258); archaeologists giving contrasting views of the situation regarding the haredim and archaeology (pp. 260-62, 263); the anonymous accusation concerning the use of the bulldozer at Jezreel (p. 306 n. 12); and the accusation that at an unnamed excavation bones were excavated from a Muslim cemetery and not recorded and that anonymous volunteers reported that this had also happened in the previous season (p. 318 n. 17). Note also the claim of the author that clearly non-Jewish human remains were hidden on an excavation on which she participated, but she does not not say which excavation (p. 268).

There is also some argument by insinuation. Conclusions by others are presented in such a way that we seem to be expected to assume they are wrong, but the reasons for rejecting them are never spelled out, nor are corrections and better readings of the evidence offered. These include the skeptical references to "Israelite" pottery and architecture on p. 118; to Herodian architecture on pp. 134-35; to "Israelite" Jerusalem in the late Iron Age on pp. 138-39; and references to the comments of Amnon Ben Tor and others about the logic of Jewish interest in ancient Israel and the perceived Arab lack of interest in their past on pp. 252-53. This is really a matter of tone, but the tone in these passages is unhelpful.

To conclude, Facts on the Ground makes some interesting observations about how nationalism and politics have fed into and fed off of Israeli archaeology. But these observations are offered in the context of an extreme perception of Israel as a colonial state, and I suspect that, whatever readers think of this viewpoint, the book's tendenz is so transparent that no one's mind will be changed one way or another by reading it. When it talks about things I know about, it consistently slants the presentation of the evidence according to this tendenz so that the conclusions are predictable and not very interesting. This book makes no contribution to the archaeology of ancient Palestine or what it can tell us about the history of ancient Israel. Others can decide whether the book makes a contribution in some other area.

posted by Jim Davila | 10:53 AM

Please sign petition to support Nadia Abu El Haj ( http://tinyurl.com/yqhmyu )

The latest salvo in the ongoing Tenure Wars against Arab and Muslim academics is a conspiracy to deny Nadia Abu el Haj tenure at Columbia University.

Here is background information:

  • http://eaazi.blogspot.com/2007...
  • http://eaazi.blogspot.com/2007...
  • http://eaazi.blogspot.com/2007...
  • http://eaazi.blogspot.com/2007...
  • http://eaazi.blogspot.com/2007...
  • Please sign the following petition to support her tenure application.

    http://www.petitiononline.com/...

    The Petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/...)

    As concerned alumni and friends of Barnard and Columbia, we urge you to deny tenure to Nadia Abu El Haj, a professor of anthropology whose claim to scholarly recognition is based on a single, profoundly flawed book.

    In "Facts on the Ground. Archeological Practice and Territorial Self Fashioning in Israeli Society," Abu El Haj alleges that archaeologists have “created the fact of an ancient Israelite/Jewish nation,” where none actually existed. She asserts that the ancient Israelite kingdoms are a “pure political fabrication.”

    We are submitting this petition because the use of evidence in "Facts on the Ground" fails to meet the standards of scholarship that are expected of Columbia and Barnard undergraduates.

    * Much of the evidence regarding the pre-exilic Israelite kingdoms is in the form of writing excavated from archaeological sites and securely dated to the period before the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE. This evidence includes monumental inscriptions and surviving documents (some preserved as cuneiform tablets) that come from Moab, Egypt, Babylonia and other ancient kingdoms. From Israel and Judah there are literally hundreds of written sources in PaleoHebrew script, including not only monumental inscriptions, but graffiti, seal impressions, amulets (one containing a Biblical passage) and labels embossed on containers, (notably containers labeled for use in the royal storehouses.)

    In addition to all of this, hundreds of written documents ranging from receipts, to letters, to school exercises survive because they were written on pieces of old pottery (ostraca.) Abu El Haj fails to mention the existence of this truly vast body of written evidence that proves her assertion to be false.

    We object to the appointment of a professor whose work fails to encounter the evidence on the topic about which she writes.

    * Facts on the Ground purports to be an anthropology of Israeli archaeology and of Israeli attitudes about archaeology. However, Abu El Haj does not speak or read Hebrew, the language Israelis speak and the language in which Israeli archaeologists regularly publish.

    We fail to understand how a scholar can pretend to study the attitudes of a people whose language she does not know.

    * In a section that approaches slander, Abu El Haj has accused prominent archaeologist David Ussishkin of "bad science," using "large shovels," failing to sift dirt "in search of very small remains," and of using bulldozers "in order to get down to earlier strata which are saturated with national significance, as quickly as possible."

    Shockingly, Abu El Haj’s offers as her only evidence for making this serious charge a conversation with unnamed “archaeologists and student volunteers” at a dig in which she was not participating. None of these anonymous “archaeologists and student volunteers” has stepped forward to corroborate her story. On the contrary, many archaeologists have come to Ussishkin’s defense, and he has been put to the trouble of publishing a refutation of these evidence-less allegations.

    We are shocked that a member of the Columbia faculty would lay a serious accusation against a fellow scholar without providing any evidence to support her assertion.

    * Facts on the Ground regularly makes assertions of fact supported exclusively by conversations that Abe El Haj reports holding with unnamed individuals. The book is peppered with such assertions as: “One archaeologist told me of a right-wing colleague who was constantly labeling Christian sites Jewish.”

    No professor would pass a student paper that makes an assertion of fact without a source. We fail to understand how this can be acceptable in a scholarly book.

    *Abu El Haj’s use of unsourced facts is mixed with demonstrations of her ignorance of history and of archaeology. To give just one example, she writes of the post-1967 dig in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, “ In this (anonymous) Israeli archaeologist’s words, ‘It was one of the largest excavations and one of the worst’; it was too large to ‘digest scientifically.’ It was too large to control: ‘Somewhere in there are the complexes of the Palaces of Solomon,’ he insisted, ‘but they dug buildings with no sections and lost a lot of data that way.’

    Of course, if the “Palaces of Solomon” exist,they would be in the area of Jerusalem known as the City of David, not in the modern Jewish Quarter, an area that was not part of the city in the tenth or even the ninth century BCE (the period called Solomonic.)

    We are embarrassed that Columbia would consider granting tenure to a scholar who is so patently ignorant about the subject of her only book.

    ***

    We are aware that Abu El Haj excuses herself from the expectation that scholarship will be based on evidence. In her introduction, she informs the world that she “Reject(s) a positivist commitment to scientific methods…”

    Instead of using scientific standards of evidence, her work is “rooted in… post structuralism, philosophical critiques of foundationalism, Marxism and critical theory… and developed in response to specific postcolonial political movements.”

    We reject the idea that Marxism, post-colonialism, post-structuralism or any other approach can nullify the obligation of scholars to base their work on evidence.

    As the Columbia University Faculty Handbook states, “irreversible damage can result from breach of academic commitment to truth in investigative activities… lack of integrity in conducting basic or clinical investigations involving dishonesty, knowing misrepresentation of data, and/or violation of accepted standards can destroy public trust in the academic community as a whole and in our own institution in particular; it can shatter individual careers; it can undermine sensitive relationships between investigators, students, and the public.”

    We very much fear that the appointment of a scholar of Abu El Haj’s demonstrably inferior caliber, her knowing misrepresentation of data and violation of accepted standards of scholarship will indeed destroy public trust in the University and undermine sensitive relationships between Columbia, Barnard and the graduates who used to be proud of the high standards of scholarship that Columbia and Barnard always stood for.

    We urge you to protect Columbia’s reputation for scholarship and integrity by upholding the principal that research must be based on a disinterested consideration of evidence.

    Sincerely,

    The Undersigned

    Lassner, Maeir, Joffe, Reinharz and Segal against Nadia Abu el Haj ( http://tinyurl.com/2zpuk2 )
    The Context of the Attack on Facts on the Ground
    by Joachim Martillo ( ThorsProvoni@aol.com )

    The unifying factor in the campaign to deny Nadia Abu el-Haj tenure is the Boston-area Jewish Community, which developed strong communal defense mechanisms in response to Boston Catholic church leaders like Father Charles Coughlin and Father Leonard Feeney. Nowadays the Boston Catholic Church today takes a much less adversarial approach to non-Catholic groups while the organized Jewish community has moved from defense to attack, and the David Project serves as its fist.

    The David Project, which was founded in 2002 for the purpose of diminishing the impact of critics of Israel according to its mission statement, produced the propaganda film Columbia Unbecoming to defame Arab and Muslim faculty at Columbia University. During approximately the same time period, the David Project thwarted Sheikh Zayed's attempt to create an Islamic studies professorship at Harvard Divinity School and lead the conspiracy to deny Boston Muslims their constitutional rights to assemble freely to practice their religion by bringing a lawsuit through a shill to raze the Roxbury Mosque before it was even completed.

    Alexander Joffe, who attacked Abu El Haj's book entitled Facts on the Ground (published 2001) in The Journal of Near Eastern Studies (Chicago: Oct 2005. Vol. 64, Iss. 4; p. 297, see http://tinyurl.com/2pzdx4 ) is currently research director for the David Project. Previously he was director of the Campus Watch project of The Middle East Forum founded by Daniel Pipes, who is a leading American Islamophobe and Arabophobe. The Middle East Forum publishes the Middle East Quarterly in which Lassner's article (see below) appeared.

    Daniel Pipes grew up in the Boston Jewish community like both Columbia Professor Alan F. Segal, who seems to have opposed granting tenure to Nadia Abu el-Haj before he even read her book, and also Brandeis Israel Studies Chairman S. Ilan Troen, who is a former oleh (immigrant to Israel) and close collaborator of Northwestern professor Jacob Lassner.

    While Shulamit Reinharz, who made a racist attack on Nadia Abu el-Haj in The Boston Jewish Advocate, is not American born, she has been thoroughly naturalized into the Boston-area Jewish community as a Brandeis professor, wife of Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz and former David Project Director. Aren Maeir, who has also attacked Nadia Abu el Haj, is likewise a naturalized member of the Boston Jewish community through his MIT connection.

    Troen, the Reinharzes, Lassner and his wife, Joffe, and Maeir are all strongly committed to the creation of Israel Studies Departments at American Universities to serve as safe havens of Zionist ideological indoctrination within US academia. Israel Studies advocates were appalled and outraged when Berkeley appointed the Israeli post-Zionist scholar Oren Yiftachel to the Visiting Israeli Professorship funded by the Bay Area Zionist philanthropist Helen Diller, but Nadia Abu el-Haj is an even worse nightmare for the Israel Studies movement. Because she is a brilliant Palestinian scholar of Israel studies (even if she does not so call herself), academic Zionists, the Zionist Lobby, and the organized Jewish community have decided to stop her and her kind by whatever means it takes.

    Lassner starts his attempt to demolish Abu el-Haj with the following false claim.

    Abu el-Haj, an anthropologist at Barnard College of Columbia University, explores in this interesting study how archeology has shaped the social and political imagination of Israel and served the aims of the state. The blurb on the back cover of the book by Talal Asad, another anthropologist, succinctly captures Abu el-Haj's project: "She presents the first critical account of Israeli archeological practice while tracing the dynamic relationships among science, colonization, nation-state building, and territorial expansion."

    Facts on the Ground begins with the pre-state period before there was a State of Israel with aims. Talal Asad makes no such overreaching assertion on the back cover. He actually states the following.

    A fascinating and important study. Factually detailed and theoretically informed by the latest thinking in the anthropology and sociology of science, Nadia Abu El-Haj has provided us with an understanding of precisely how archeology has contributed so crucially to the formation of nationalist sensibilities in a settler-colonial society.

    The quotation to which Lassner refers is the publisher's description and was probably written by someone in marketing communications, who at most skimmed a few chapters of the book, but it does serve the purpose of motivating Jewish Columbia and Barnard alumni to write nasty letters to the administration by ascribing such a statement to someone with an Arabic sounding name.

    Lassner follows the misquotation with unsupported and unsupportable claims about Abu el-Haj's skill set, the role of archeology in Israeli society, and the central premise of the book.

    Lassner never provides evidence to support his claim that Abu el-Haj lacks sufficient command of Hebrew. In those cases where the issue is idiom or diachronic linguistics, Abu el-Haj is correct while her critic is wrong.

    In his extraordinarily unprofessional column in the Columbia Spectator, Professor Segal states the following.

    She does make some simple mistakes in Hebrew at several important places in her book, especially in the chapters on Hebrew place names, but also including one that affects her conclusions about Israelis secularizing ancient concepts. Contrary to her opinion, "bayyit" does mean "temple" in ancient Hebrew: "the Hebrew terms secularizing in their effect insofar as the word 'temple' is absent" (p. 132).

    The word temple is absent because the construend mikdash does not appear so that the listener or reader is left to make an implicit interpretation that bayyit means temple. Yael Zerubavel, who is unlike Segal a native speaker of Hebrew, writes the following in her book entitled Recovered Roots (p. 23).

    Although the subperiodization of Antiquity into the First Temple and Second Temple periods might appear to enhance the religious dimension, their common representation in modern Hebrew as the First or Second "House" eliminates the explicit reference to their sacred dimension and renders them closer in spirit to the English terms, the First or Second Commonwealth.

    Uri Avnery, who is a journalist and former MK, has the following opinion of Israeli archeology (Uri Avnery, "Three Provocations: The Method in the Madness," CounterPunch, Feb. 13, 2007,
    http://www.counterpunch.org/av... ).

    "... most Israeli archaeologists have always been the loyal foot-soldiers of the official propaganda. Since the emergence of modern Zionism, they have been engaged in a desperate endeavor to 'find' archaeological evidence for the historical truth of the stories of the Old Testament. Until now, they have gone empty-handed: there exists no archaeological proof for the exodus from Egypt, the conquest of Canaan and the kingdoms of Saul, David and Solomon. But in their eagerness to prove the unprovable (because in the opinion of the vast majority of archaeologists and historians outside Israel – and also some in Israel – the Old Testament stories are but sacred myths), the archaeologists have destroyed many strata of other periods."

    Lassner appears to have missed the book's main thesis, which appears on page 11.

    Disputing the notion that all experimentation is dominated by theory, Ian Hacking insists that experimentation has a life of its own (1983: 150; see also Galison 1987, 1997). In other words, the history of experiment cannot be subsumed to that of theory. ... In granting experimentation independence from theory, Hacking also argues that we reconceptualize "the criteria of reality" (142). He suggests that reality has far less to do with what we think about the world than what we do in and to it (17). ... And it is precisely such processes of manipulation -- of intervention -- that characterize experimental life: the "making, moving, changing" of phenomena (Galison 1997:800).

    Abu el-Haj demonstrates in her book that the practice of Israeli archeology affects the theory and the sociology of Israeli archeology and hence the larger Israeli society. If Lassner had a clue, could have overcome his Zionist prejudice, and had read the book (carefully), he might have recognized the tremendous scientific achievement in elucidating a process that occurs in many situations.

    During Southern slavery Southern doctors used their slaves as experimental subjects to the profound corruption of the theory and sociology of US medicine, and the effects of this perversion lingered to affect the larger American society long after the end of slavery.

    Lacking any insight into Abu el-Haj's book, Lassner tritely concludes his review with some hackneyed and false Zionist propaganda.

    Israelis have replaced Arab place names bearing the remotest relationship to biblical toponyms with similar sounding or entirely different Hebrew names, both within Israel proper after the fighting of 1947-9 and after 1967 in the West Bank. In a sense, where Jews have come to rule, they have reversed the Arabization of historic Palestine that began with its conquest by the Muslim armies nearly 1,400 years ago. Given these circumstances, it is not surprising that Arabs are determined to preserve the memories of Arab Palestine and to use the past as an agenda to reclaim their land. Abu el-Haj's book is part of this enterprise.

    More broadly, even were Israelis guilty of Abu el-Haj's charges, they would still have no monopoly in manipulating the past. The Palestinians, whose Arab ancestors crossed the Arabian frontier and conquered the Holy Land in the seventh century C.E., celebrate as their progenitors the varied peoples of ancient Canaan, the inhabitants of "historic" Palestine more than a thousand years removed from the initial Arab-Muslim incursions. A study of the Arab uses of the ancient past would be a welcome and even essential companion to Abu el-Haj's book.

    The classical and early Islamic imperialists did not engage in the sort of mass murder, ethnic cleansing and genocide that we moderns (and especially Zionists) practice. Palestine went from Byzantine to Arab Islamic rule with little effect on anyone outside the political elite. The native population, which practiced various forms of Christianity, Judaism and Samaritanism was gradually Islamized and Arabized over centuries as were territorial names. In contrast, Zionists, whose only connection to Palestine is mythological or religious, hastened to cover up their crimes by creating a new Zionist Hebrew map to replace the map of ruined and ethnically cleansed Arab Palestine as Meron Benvenisti describes in his book Sacred Landscapes: The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948.

    Original Article

    Lassner's original article is available on the Middle East Forum website, at http://www.meforum.org/article... .

    How is this relevant to Segal's article? Respond, don't just dump stuff.

    Because Lassner did not provide any examples of Abu el Haj's lack of understanding of Hebrew, I used one from Segal.

    In his extraordinarily unprofessional column in the Columbia Spectator, Professor Segal states the following.

      She does make some simple mistakes in Hebrew at several important places in her book, especially in the chapters on Hebrew place names, but also including one that affects her conclusions about Israelis secularizing ancient concepts. Contrary to her opinion, "bayyit" does mean "temple" in ancient Hebrew: "the Hebrew terms secularizing in their effect insofar as the word 'temple' is absent" (p. 132).

    The word temple is absent because the construend mikdash does not appear so that the listener or reader is left to make an implicit interpretation that bayyit means temple. Yael Zerubavel, who is unlike Segal a native speaker of Hebrew, writes the following in her book entitled Recovered Roots (p. 23).

      Although the subperiodization of Antiquity into the First Temple and Second Temple periods might appear to enhance the religious dimension, their common representation in modern Hebrew as the First or Second "House" eliminates the explicit reference to their sacred dimension and renders them closer in spirit to the English terms, the First or Second Commonwealth.

    Because I have read both Recovered Roots and Facts on the Ground carefully -- something that I doubt Segal has done -- I can add that Zerubavel, who is a native speaker of Modern Israeli Hebrew makes clear in the note associated with the passage that Abu el Haj is completely right on this issue of Modern Israeli Hebrew idiom while Segal is completely in the wrong.

    The Columbia administration should be investigating whether Segal has crossed the line into more turpitude and possible criminal activity (Title 18 USC Section 241 Conspiracy against Rights) that he can be terminated immediately despite having tenure.

    How do you know Segal hasn't read Zerubavel's book? Perhaps Zerbavel, who is not a biblical scholar, is simply wrong about ancient Hebrew. Plenty of other simple mistakes in Hebrew in Dr. Abu el-Haj's book are easily available on the internet and even on this website.

    That should be "moral turpitude" and not "more turpitude."

    Your defamatory accusations are ill-advised and should be withdrawn. It's always better to refrain from ad hominem attacks if you can resist the temptation.

    Why did Weeden not phone or write Segal or the Spec to request a simple correction?

    Apparently she preferred to post a public accusation of malfeasance on Segal's part rather than assume that a young editor had made an honest mistake.

    God damn you zionists are annoying. Didn't you already write this in reply to the message below? Do you think what you have to say is so important (it's not) that you have to post it twice? Guess what? We ddin't care then, we don't care now.

    You're an odious zionist shill and there's no need for you to speak even once. Anything you say is suspect and useless.

    This is a comment from Professor Lisa Wedeen. The statement attributed to me by Professor Alan Segal in this article is false. I have demanded an immediate retraction and formal apology from the newspaper. I declined to be interviewed by Columbia University’s Spectator because I have no interest in participating in what is clearly a smear campaign against Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj. I have the utmost admiration for Professor Abu El-Haj and her work. Professor Alan Segal has attributed to me the very opposite claim of the one I made when I was interviewed by John Gravois for the Chronicle of Higher Education. In that interview I was correctly quoted as saying the following: “Anybody who reads her work can see that it is replete with Hebrew sources, both written and oral.” That article also correctly states that I told Gravois that the book contains Dr. Abu El-Haj's own translations from Hebrew, and that I noted that they are “fluid and idiomatic.” The newspaper’s reliance on Professor Segal and its systematic misrepresentations of Abu El-Haj’s work are a disgrace.

    Why did Weeden not phone or write Segal or the Spec to request a simple correction?

    Apparently she preferred to post a public accusation of malfeasance on Segal's part rather than assume that a young editor had made an honest mistake.

    Shut up already, you obnoxious tool of zionism.

    Just to be clear.

    What obviously hapened is that Prof. Segal wrote "pace Lisa Weeden..."

    And a Spec editor, unaware of the meaning of the word "pace" changed it to "according to Lisa Weeden..."

    Personally, I find Lisa Weeden's attempt to smear Professor Segal offensive. Why does Weeden assume that Segal deliberately changed her statement , which would have been a bizarre and stupid thing for him to ahve done.

    We have all been misedited and misquoted by newspapers. Sometimes even had the meaning of our words altered by the omission of a word, line of type or by careless editing. Why did Weden not phone or write Segal or the Spec to request a cimple correction?

    Apparently she preferred to post a public accusatin of malfesance on Segal's part rather than asssume that a yound editor had mande an honest mistake.

    I am an engineer, so perhaps I miss some of the political nuances in play. This reads to me like the major work offered by a tenure-seeking individual is clearly fatally flawed. The body of internationally studied finds and the data from them that demonstrates the historical existence of Israel as a Jewish state in antiquity is massive and much of it predates the UN post-WWII formation of Israel.

    Granting tenure shields holders of it and surely candidates should be held to high standards of quality and integrity in scholarship. Failure of the cognizant committees to discharge their responsibilities leads to Ward Churchills, and this individual's work and remarks sure seems to me to have similarities to that previously tenured ex-professor of the University of Colorado.

    Oh, you're an engineer! Well, everyone else clear out of the fucking room!!

    I did not realize engineers were uniquely qualified to make blanket conclusions based on the polemics of one side of an argument.

    WOW! Engineers are amazing!!!

    We should send you to the UN so you can bring peace to the world and solve global warming while you're at it. What are you doing squandering your talents in some crappy engineering program?

    Those remarks of yours are typical of some of the "nuances" to which I referred, Ward.

    AH DUUUUUUUHHHHH!!!

    Get a life, zionist.

    I have not noticed any comment that properly places El-Haj within her political framework. The PLO Charter, in Article 20, says that Jews have no historical or religious connection with the Land of Israel [called "Palestine" of course, by the PLO]. It seems clear to me that El-Haj has a political axe to grind. She seeks to vindicate Article 20 of the PLO charter. Her agenda is political, not scholarly. Segal could have mentioned more extensively the accounts of the Jews in ancient Greek and Latin literature of the period after Alexander. In the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the Greek and Roman writers did NOT use the name "palestine" for the country. They usually called it Judea [IVDAEA] or subsumed it within the broader notion of Coele-Syria. The Roman emperor Hadrian, an imperialist --can we agree on that?-- renamed the Provincia Iudaea "Syria Palaestina" after he had crushed the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE. So the very name "palestine" was an imperialist imposition on the Land of Israel [as Jews traditionally called it] or Judea [as it was usually called in Greek and Latin writings up to Hadrian's victory over the Bar Kokhba revolt]. See my article available on the Internet on the issue of names of the Land of Israel.

    Haha, lame.

    More zionistic obfuscation. This hackneyed argument always ends up rearing its head, trying to dispell the Palestinians by making a claim that the land was never called "Palestine" or some such variant as the above.

    If you people put a tenth as much energy towards trying to make peace with the Arabs as you do trying to deny Palestinian heritage we would have this licked by Monday.

    Get a life.

    Namecalling, but no refutation offered. Seems to me that it is the PLO who are trying to deny another's heritage.

    No, it's just that you are stupid and your argument warrants name calling, because that is the appropriate response to the tripe being posited.

    The only time you try to suppress rumors is when you know they are true.

    If El Haj's book was the tripe that the zionist community says it is, they would simply ignore it. Virtually no respectable academic would lend it any credence anyway. It would simply fade away into infamous obscurity, as would be befitting if the accusations are true.

    But the zionists are worried. They're pissed. El Haj hit a nerve, the nerve of knowing guilt. They will contrive to screech like Cassandra's as they always do, until the discourse is so polluted that the process itself is debased and devalued as a result.

    Unfortunately, not this time. Your "modi operandi " is all too apparent anymore.

    Screech you zionist Cassandra's.

    Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Slander?
    By Aren M. Maeir
    PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 21, 2007

    With the decision on whether or not to tenure the controversial historian Joseph Massad still pending at Columbia, Barnard College has begun the process of deciding whether to tenure yet another controversial young Middle Eastern scholar.
    Nadia Abu El-Haj, a social anthropologist and an assistant professor at Barnard, has written a study of the effect that archaeology has had on the ideological fashioning of the modern State of Israel, “Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society”.
    Reviews by scholars intimately familiar with the state of archaeology in Israel (including the present writer) have pointed out that the book is replete with inaccuracies, faulty research (both methods and tools of research), and displays a very strong ideological bias which strongly taints the book, the research, and needless to say, the conclusions. Her work displays her lack of the necessary tools of research (such as a working knowledge of Hebrew) to enable a close study of Israeli society, and her opinions are unsupported by the evidence. The book’s only strength is that it conceptualizes Israeli archaeology within the dogmas of post-colonial theory.
    At Barnard as at Columbia, certain departments appear to be so deeply in thrall to the late Edward Said, that scholarship is valued not for rigorous methodology or mastery of a body of evidence, but according to the rigor with which it conforms to the orthodoxies of post-colonialism.
    Of course, Abu El-Haj has every right to publish shoddy work. I am reminded of a legendary story told about a meeting of the prestigious American Oriental Society years ago at which a young scholar gave an embarrassingly poor paper. After he had finished, there was an uncomfortable silence in the crowd, until W.F. Albright, the noted scholar of the Near East, got up and said, “We have just heard a fine example of the grand old American tradition of the freedom of speech.”
    My current claim against Ms. Abu El-Haj is on another ground. As part of her attack on the practice of archaeology in Israel (and, in her opinion, its constant and ongoing misuse for ideological purposes), one of her primary modi operandi is slander. In her book she attacks, harangues, vilifies and slanders respected archaeologists in the field. In particular, she abhorrently attacks professor David Ussishkin of Tel Aviv University, one of the most respected archaeologists in the Near East, excavator of Lachish, Jezreel and currently, Megiddo. Abu El-Haj accuses David Ussishkin of “bad science,” of using bulldozers “in order to get down to earlier strata which are saturated with national significance, as quickly as possible” and in such a way that “the remains above it were summarily destroyed.” He did so, she asserts, despite the fact that anonymous British archaeologists “strenuously objected.” Abu El-Haj cites the same anonymous archaeologists to assert that Ussishkin used “large shovels, pickaxes and large buckets in order to move through the earth,” “moved through dirt rather quickly” and ignored “smaller remains” in an effort to reach “architectural structures” “that can illuminate the history (the chronology of identity)” of the Jewish national connection to the land.
    This is analogous to accusing a surgeon of deciding whether to use a scalpel or a hacksaw according to the patient’s ethnic “identity.” The slanderous, and one must add, baseless accusations against Ussishkin (which he has publicly denied, see: http://solomonia.com/blog/arch...) is, in effect, an attempt to prevent him from doing his work.
    Abu El-Haj’s goal is to de-legitimize Israeli archaeology because of what she sees as its relationship “to the Israeli state and society and the role it played in the formation and enactment of its colonial-national historical imagination and in the substantiation of its territorial claims.” Abu El-Haj asserts that “what was considered to have been ancient Jewish national existence and sovereignty in their homeland” is a mere Zionist “myth.” By accusing David Ussishkin and other esteemed archaeologists of bulldozing through upper strata because of the “nationalist politics guiding [their] research agendas,” she endeavors to call into question the validity of the work of highly respected scholars who have devoted careers to uncovering the history of this land. They have done so not merely with regard to the times of the ancient Israelite kingdoms, but of every period from the Paleolithic to the Ottoman Empire, and they have done so with great devotion, using brushes, sieves, non-invasive ground-penetrating radar and other state-of-the art methodology.
    Abu El-Haj is frank about her desire to reframe the “Jewish/Israeli belief in ancient Israelite origins ... as pure political fabrication.” In her book, she seeks to de-legitimize all archaeologists now digging in Israel—and the facts they uncover in the ground—by lodging slanderous charges based on the testimony of anonymous witnesses.
    Freedom of speech, and of research, does in fact have to be defended! Particularly against those who use a form of “newspeak” to de-legitimize respected practitioners of science and in effect, curtail their ability, and right, to conduct and publish their research.

    The author is an Israeli archaeologist from Bar-Ilan University.

    The author is an Israeli archaeologist from Bar-Ilan University.

    He dares write this mendacious garbage while standing on stolen Palestinian land?

    He should at least have the decency to go back to New York to write this treif.

    The Petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/...)

    As concerned alumni and friends of Barnard and Columbia, we urge you to deny tenure to Nadia Abu El Haj, a professor of anthropology whose claim to scholarly recognition is based on a single, profoundly flawed book.

    In "Facts on the Ground. Archeological Practice and Territorial Self Fashioning in Israeli Society," Abu El Haj alleges that archaeologists have “created the fact of an ancient Israelite/Jewish nation,” where none actually existed. She asserts that the ancient Israelite kingdoms are a “pure political fabrication.”

    We are submitting this petition because the use of evidence in "Facts on the Ground" fails to meet the standards of scholarship that are expected of Columbia and Barnard undergraduates.

    * Much of the evidence regarding the pre-exilic Israelite kingdoms is in the form of writing excavated from archaeological sites and securely dated to the period before the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE. This evidence includes monumental inscriptions and surviving documents (some preserved as cuneiform tablets) that come from Moab, Egypt, Babylonia and other ancient kingdoms. From Israel and Judah there are literally hundreds of written sources in PaleoHebrew script, including not only monumental inscriptions, but graffiti, seal impressions, amulets (one containing a Biblical passage) and labels embossed on containers, (notably containers labeled for use in the royal storehouses.)

    In addition to all of this, hundreds of written documents ranging from receipts, to letters, to school exercises survive because they were written on pieces of old pottery (ostraca.) Abu El Haj fails to mention the existence of this truly vast body of written evidence that proves her assertion to be false.

    We object to the appointment of a professor whose work fails to encounter the evidence on the topic about which she writes.

    * Facts on the Ground purports to be an anthropology of Israeli archaeology and of Israeli attitudes about archaeology. However, Abu El Haj does not speak or read Hebrew, the language Israelis speak and the language in which Israeli archaeologists regularly publish.

    We fail to understand how a scholar can pretend to study the attitudes of a people whose language she does not know.

    * In a section that approaches slander, Abu El Haj has accused prominent archaeologist David Ussishkin of "bad science," using "large shovels," failing to sift dirt "in search of very small remains," and of using bulldozers "in order to get down to earlier strata which are saturated with national significance, as quickly as possible."

    Shockingly, Abu El Haj’s offers as her only evidence for making this serious charge a conversation with unnamed “archaeologists and student volunteers” at a dig in which she was not participating. None of these anonymous “archaeologists and student volunteers” has stepped forward to corroborate her story. On the contrary, many archaeologists have come to Ussishkin’s defense, and he has been put to the trouble of publishing a refutation of these evidence-less allegations.

    We are shocked that a member of the Columbia faculty would lay a serious accusation against a fellow scholar without providing any evidence to support her assertion.

    * Facts on the Ground regularly makes assertions of fact supported exclusively by conversations that Abe El Haj reports holding with unnamed individuals. The book is peppered with such assertions as: “One archaeologist told me of a right-wing colleague who was constantly labeling Christian sites Jewish.”

    No professor would pass a student paper that makes an assertion of fact without a source. We fail to understand how this can be acceptable in a scholarly book.

    *Abu El Haj’s use of unsourced facts is mixed with demonstrations of her ignorance of history and of archaeology. To give just one example, she writes of the post-1967 dig in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, “ In this (anonymous) Israeli archaeologist’s words, ‘It was one of the largest excavations and one of the worst’; it was too large to ‘digest scientifically.’ It was too large to control: ‘Somewhere in there are the complexes of the Palaces of Solomon,’ he insisted, ‘but they dug buildings with no sections and lost a lot of data that way.’

    Of course, if the “Palaces of Solomon” exist,they would be in the area of Jerusalem known as the City of David, not in the modern Jewish Quarter, an area that was not part of the city in the tenth or even the ninth century BCE (the period called Solomonic.)

    We are embarrassed that Columbia would consider granting tenure to a scholar who is so patently ignorant about the subject of her only book.

    ***

    We are aware that Abu El Haj excuses herself from the expectation that scholarship will be based on evidence. In her introduction, she informs the world that she “Reject(s) a positivist commitment to scientific methods…”

    Instead of using scientific standards of evidence, her work is “rooted in… post structuralism, philosophical critiques of foundationalism, Marxism and critical theory… and developed in response to specific postcolonial political movements.”

    We reject the idea that Marxism, post-colonialism, post-structuralism or any other approach can nullify the obligation of scholars to base their work on evidence.

    As the Columbia University Faculty Handbook states, “irreversible damage can result from breach of academic commitment to truth in investigative activities… lack of integrity in conducting basic or clinical investigations involving dishonesty, knowing misrepresentation of data, and/or violation of accepted standards can destroy public trust in the academic community as a whole and in our own institution in particular; it can shatter individual careers; it can undermine sensitive relationships between investigators, students, and the public.”

    We very much fear that the appointment of a scholar of Abu El Haj’s demonstrably inferior caliber, her knowing misrepresentation of data and violation of accepted standards of scholarship will indeed destroy public trust in the University and undermine sensitive relationships between Columbia, Barnard and the graduates who used to be proud of the high standards of scholarship that Columbia and Barnard always stood for.

    We urge you to protect Columbia’s reputation for scholarship and integrity by upholding the principal that research must be based on a disinterested consideration of evidence.

    Sincerely,

    The Undersigned

    We Should Discuss, Not Silence Professors
    By Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin
    PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 21, 2007

    I was truly shocked to read some of the leading letters and reviews used in this campaign against Nadia Abu El-Haj tenure. While in Israel her work has been discussed with depth and seriousness (even if critically) in academic seminars, in the United States one witnesses a crude attempt to silence this perspective. In the literature now flooding the Internet, I could not find one single sentence that would describe the work with any degree of accuracy. I wondered if the people involved had really read the book or were deliberately distorting its context. Moreover, even sentences placed in quotation marks are not to be found in the book itself. These facts alone would suffice to demonstrate the weakness of the arguments thus deployed. They become astonishing when considering that they are the doing of individuals who repeatedly claim to grounding their intervention on the “bad quality” of her work. Such individuals have simply given up on the minimal standard for making an argument, namely, that one discuss the work itself.
    But perhaps Facts on the Ground is so disturbing precisely because it is convincing, and provides a penetrating and insightful analysis of Israeli archeological discourse. Perhaps it is disturbing because it provides a most illuminating framework for the discussion of Zionism, one that has been already recognized as a remarkable contribution. Some of the reviewers themselves admit as much. The only explanation for the hysteria around the tenure procedure is the anxiety that emerges when addressing the observations made in the book. Such pathological reactions are dangerous and they should be the focus of the discussion here.
    Facts on the Ground is a controversial book, and that is exactly the reason why Nadia Abu El-Haj deserves to be tenured in any distinguished institution of academic learning. Bad scholarship could never provoke such a violent reaction. El-Haj has contributed a penetrating and revealing description and analysis of the emergence of Israeli archeology from previous Christian projects, its becoming a practice of prominence in the shaping of Zionist identity, as well as a tool in the destruction of the land’s past and present. She is not the only scholar to study critically Israeli archeological practice. Similar efforts have been pursued lately by Israeli archeologists themselves and by social scientists. One does not have to agree with all the arguments in order to admit the serious and necessary challenges it raises. Such criticism must be taken seriously, as is always the case in academic discussions. The purpose of denying this discussion can therefore be nothing else but a political attempt on the part of embattled individuals to prevent a thoughtful inquiry. Nadia Abu El-Haj neither hides nor flaunts her Palestinian identity. Yet anyone would recognize that a Palestinian perspective is essential for any discussion of the history of Palestine.
    I am therefore confident that the academic leadership of Columbia University, including the leading scholars in Jewish studies, will ignore this crude and biased campaign.
    It would be beneficial if the false accusations were replaced by a serious discussion. I believe that the future of Israeli society depends on its ability to address the perspective of its victims, and to realize that such perspective contributes to the objective work of analysis that is and must be done. As for the extremist militants seeking to silence Palestinian academics (Nadia Abu El-Haj is not the only target, a similar campaign has been conducted against Joseph Massad, another most significant scholar)—it brings up bad memories of dark ages. And even more so when one considers it from a Jewish point of view. One can only feel sadness and astonishment when hearing that members of the Jewish community are active in such nefarious attempts of silencing voices.

    The author is a professor of Jewish history at Ben-Gurion University.

    "a controversial book, and that is exactly the reason why Nadia Abu El-Haj deserves to be tenured in any distinguished institution"

    Gosh. And here I thought tenure was awarded for good scholarship.

    Raz-Krakotzkin: "I wondered if the people involved had really read the book or were deliberately distorting its context." Segal says he studied book and dissertation carefully. Can you show where he misquotes or misconstrues Abu El-Haj here? His criticisms are not the simplistic "how good is her Hebrew?" slogan. Reading this post after the article leads me to wonder if Prof. Raz-Krakotzkin read it before deciding what to say.

    Raz-Krakotzkin: "a controversial book, and that is exactly the reason why Nadia Abu El-Haj deserves to be tenured in any distinguished institution" "A factor" would seem reasonable, even laudable; "exactly the reason" seems rather extreme.

    Alas we see how hard it is to produce and monitor a vigorous but fact-based debate, avoiding being swamped by factional agit-prop; in this case I'll specify that which comes from both sides of the debate.

    Thank you Professor,
    You are a Jewish professor who can look at this issue fairly and objectively. I admire your dedication to academic scholarship.

    Dear Professor Raz-Krakotzkin,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and refreshing commentary. You have shown us a sensitive, measured and empathetic side of Israeli thinking that one rarely encounters in the US media.

    spec acted fairly and responsibly.

    The published two op-eds on each side of the debate.

    Paul Manning shuould get a life.

    The Spectator solicited a comment on this earlier with the following guarantee:

    "we are working to make sure our page on Professor El Haj is balanced and fair - which is why we aren't running the page until we have comment from someone who can speak out against the politicization of the tenure process or in defense of Professor El Haj's work. I was hoping you would be interested in writing on why the debate surrounding Professor El Haj's work is embarrassing and detrimental to academia. (Our editorial board endorsed a similar sentiment expressed by our editorial board here.)"

    When I inquired as to why Professor Segal's letter is available on the home page, with no links or obvious evidence on the web page of the existence of a dissenting view that would demonstrate such a 'balanced and fair' approach, I received the following reply, which in my estimation is at best in bad faith:

    "Lisa Hajjar's letter is saved and accessible to anyone who visits our website, as is the other letters and submissions in defense of Professor El Haj. You can find them here:

    http://www.columbiaspectator.c...
    http://www.columbiaspectator.com/?q=node/26825"

    Paul Manning
    Trent University

    The spectator asked me to comment on this, I declined, as I did when Fox news asked to put me on the air with Paula Stern. I declined because my petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/...) speaks for itself, and neither I nor Paula Stern nor Professor Segal have any qualifications to speak on this matter. Unlike Paula Stern's petition, I make some attempt to edit mine. I did, however, give both the Spectator and Fox news a list of names of people who would be qualified, perhaps, to speak to the substantive issues involved and not the issues of principle.

    I am quite surprised that the Spectator would publish one side of the story without, as they guaranteed me when soliciting my opinion, publishing the other side. They assured me that this would NOT happen, assuring me that Professor Segal's opinion would not be published until such time as they had a balancing opinion, I see that they were not acting in good faith when they contacted me.

    Other than this, I see that Professor Segal, who evidently is as much of a qualified scholar of Science Studies as he is of Biblical Studies, quite as much as Philip Salzman is also a cogent critic of the epistemology of contemporary cultural anthropology! I note that Philip Salzman's bandying about of terms he does not understand (postmodern, postcolonial) might well serve as a trenchant critique of the down side of tenure, adding only that it is typical of positivist social scientists to translate their ideological convictions into 'self -evident facts', as Philip Salzman notoriously does.

    Being a member of one profession does not, as Professor Segal implies, make one an member of all professions or disciplines. However, Professor Segal claims expertise in every field, which would probably explain why Segal faults Professor Abu El Haj for obeying the code of ethics of anthropology which requires us to protect our informants' identity, certainly justified in the case of dealings with states like Israel. Perhaps he could enlighten us anthropologists on how we would proceed if we cannot protect the identity of our informants? We are eager to learn.

    Lastly, Professor Segal takes exception to the claim that this witch hunt is informed in any way by Professor Abu El Haj's identity, but only her arguments. This is a very liberal view to take, we applaud it if true, though we are forced to be skeptical. Having claimed her identity is not at issue, he turns around and makes it an issue, in essence, claiming in a manner redolent of an embittered white male academic that hires are now made based on "identity politics" and not on academic quality, in the following suggestive manner:

    "But she is also, I think, an American citizen and certainly from a prosperous family, which gives her many advantages over her more unfortunate fellow Palestinians. Her identity and her far less polemical dissertation have benefited her in academic life. It is no wonder she has received so many prizes and honors and it is no wonder that so many Barnard faculty are for her candidacy without ever having read a word of her work or understood her lack of preparation for judging issues in biblical studies. It makes sense. We should be looking for people like her."

    Indeed, Alan Segal, in a similar vein, we may wonder, may we not, how many generations have men such as ourselves, in our turn, benefited from our relatively prosperous backgrounds (by definition if we are North American we are prosperous by world standards) and, of course 'plain vanilla' identities? Our forefathers, before us, of course, suffered from discrimination and disaster, but we have overcome it, no doubt, from pure merit and the sweat of our brows. But, like you, I allege nothing, I merely 'wonder', thus inviting the prejudices of the readers to read between the lines, while taking no responsibility myself.

    Paul Manning
    Department of Anthropology
    Trent University
    Peteborough, Ontario, Canada

    While I can understand the sense of frustration, which various aspects of this situation might cause, and see that some of these criticisms carry weight, I don't see that Manning has answered the strongest and most basic charges Segal raises.

    E.g., according to Segal, Abu El-Haj makes not only meta-claims about the historiography, but also specific claims about the historicity of certain events and situations, based on a narrow scholarly foundation, without demonstrating mastery of the relevant fields, and without discussion of rival views.

    Is Segal right or wrong in this claim?

    IN YOUR FACE, SEGAL!

    errr.. i am only wondering where are all the opinions in support of Nadia el-Haj, that were there in spectator's print edition? they were by leading academics. why dont they appear, and why has this been given the lead here?

    No one at Spec is hiding anything. It's just that the web site is both awkward and slow, making it hard to locate articles on the site even when you have seen them in print and know they have to be here.

    Maybe if more EE majors went out for Spec?

    Professor Segal is far too kind to anthropologists, refusing to hold them responsible for the quality of their students' work and of the publications that they review. Anthropology has on the whole decayed and declined so far as to be dubious in the extreme. Having enthusiastically adopted postmodernism, which dismisses any search for facts or belief in truth, anthropologists have given up trying to advance knowledge and instead devote themselves to concocting arguments for the benefit of their favorite subaltern victims. Also having taken postcolonial theory to their hearts, they have adopted as a foundational principle that all evil in the world arose from Western imperialism, before which the world was a sweet and lovely place. Assistant Professor Abu El Haj is as much a victim of her irresponsible teachers and seniors as Israeli archeologists are of her biased and tendentious account. As an anthropologist, currently Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, I am deeply distressed by the current state of my "discipline," and I regret not having succeeded in slowing or halting its present course. PHILIP CARL SALZMAN

    Salzman hits the mnail on the head.

    Anthropologists " enthusiastically adopted postmodernism, which dismisses any search for facts or belief in truth, anthropologists have given up trying to advance knowledge and instead devote themselves to concocting arguments for the benefit of their favorite subaltern victims."

    Just so.

    Meanwhile historians and archaeologists continue to attempt to dispassionately encounter the evidence in an attempt to construct an accurate picture of the past.

    No wonder the archaeologist aand historians are at loggerheads with anthropologists over this tenure decision.

    That does hit the "mnail" on the head! So the problem isn't this particular tenure case, but rather the entire field of Anthropology. And in considering a tenure case in anthropology, the anthropologist's view should carry less weight than that of archaeologists and historians. Perhaps in a tenure case for an historian, we should prefer the view of mechanical engineers. After all, Henry Ford said, "history is more or less bunk."

    Perhaps columbia should put the anthropology department into receivership, as it did with literature not too long ago.

    With its support for this tenure candidate, Anthropology at Columbia has renounced any responsibility of scholars to discover and argue from verifiable evidence.

    The reason why archaeologists, historians and reality-tesing anthropologists like Salzman are weighing in is in support of the principal that verifiable evidence exists in the world. As do facts. i.e., ancient Hebrew kingdoms existed, Jerusalem was mostly Jewish in the time of Jesus, Israeli archaeologists do sift for "small finds," and other similar facts denied by El-Haj.

    And, after all, if there truly is no way to weigh one body of evidence agains another and establish a hierachy of facticity , then there is no point to having a university.

    How funny. A self-hating anthropologist. I suggest you take up a more noble occupation, perhaps gardening: you still get to dig in the dirt.

    There's some intriguing symbolism to this case. You have, on the one hand, a tenured Zionist professor, who therefore has all the power, publicly attacking a Palestinian assistant professor, who in that status has no power, doing his level best to smother her academic career in the crib. All the while piously claiming that everything he is doing is in good faith. And rather than disputing her arguments in professional journals, he waits until just the moment when her tenure decision is up, then unloads on her when she can't fight back.

    I really hope Professor Segal attends President Ahmadinejad's talk. Those two deserve each other.

    Post new comment

    The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
    • You may use <swf file="song.mp3"> to display Flash files inline
    • Allowed HTML tags: <!--pagebreak--><p><br><i><b><a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><!--pagebreak-->
    • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
    • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

    More information about formatting options