I’m certain you’ll get plenty of responses taking exception to what Marc Abizeid wrote in “Silencing Debate on the Middle East,” so let me take this opportunity to comment on what he left out. For instance, right from the start, Abizeid cites Noam Chomsky without mentioning his role as the “dark lord” of the anti-Israel lobby in academia or his long-standing relationship with Norman Finkelstein. Chomsky’s history of directing his minions (notably Finkelstein) to target pro-Israel scholars (notably Alan Dershowitz) is well-documented. In fact, Finkelstein has bragged about his work as Chomsky’s foot-soldier. While Chomsky has every reason to pretend to be neutral in this matter or ignore his close relationship with Finkelstein, no self-respecting reporter could miss discovering this information or fail to mention it when writing about these issues.

Simlarly, Abizeid fails to mention any of the history between Finkelstein and Dershowitz, who is cited for targeting the younger academic and torpedoing his tenure. Do you think it might be relevant to note that the Finkelstein/Dershowitz feud started with Finkelstein trying to publish a book that included charges of plagiarism on Dershowitz’s part? Mentioning that Finkelstein had tried to torpedo Dershowitz’s career by accusing him of academic fraud — charges that were investigated and rejected by Harvard — might cast Abizeid’s apparent victim in a far different light. Finkelstein’s tenure was just the most recent skirmish between these two.

Another important omission is the question of scholarship. Though Finkelstein is quoted, “none of these evaluations ever mention any problems with my scholarship,” Abizeid never really explores this issue. Finkelstein, again often his own worst enemy, has repeatedly admitted that he has never published any scholarly work. (You can check that for yourself.) The evaluations mentioned were of Finkelstein’s teaching, not his wider scholarly contributions. To anyone familiar with the academic process, scholarly publication — i.e., “publish or perish” — is an absolute requirement for granting tenure. I can understand why Finkelstein would want to avoid the obvious explanation for his rejection, especially since it places the responsibility on his own shoulders, and point instead to shadowy conspiracies.

However, I can’t forgive a writer pretending to journalistic integrity who fails to report the possibility of another explanation. There is no excuse for not knowing the available facts and, therefore, every reason to question Abizeid’s choice not to inform his readers. Does City on a Hill Press adhere to any standards for journalistic practice? Do you have fact checkers review articles before they are printed? Does your editorial review apply the minimal standards of journalistic practice? If you are going to pretend at serious journalism you are going to be called upon to meet the standards that govern that calling.

*Lee Jaffe*