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Saturday, 15 September 2007

Bulldozing the Truth for the sake of Political Expediency

That's what the controversial Columbia Univerity's Barnard College Associate Professor Ms. Abu El-Haj would have you believe is the major driving force behind Israel's archaeological research.

Apparently the hundreds of academics, research assistants, Professors, and associate Professors are acting in a unified choreographed action rewriting the history underneath to match the 'Zionist agenda'.

To any one able to view with an objective eye, its plainly obvious who is doing the bulldozing and who is willing to destroy a vast archaeological history in the name of political expediency.

A valuable lesson taught to me by a favorite teacher long ago, something I'll never forget, when some one is pointing, three of their fingers are pointing back at them. A lesson Ms Abu El Haj could well learn.

From AP comes this:

Controversy Over New York Prof's Tenure

NEW YORK (AP) — A debate over an anthropologist's book on ancient Hebrew history isn't just academic — it's spilled over into an online dispute between critics trying to keep her from getting tenure and supporters who say the effort stifles scholarly freedom.

Nadia Abu El-Haj has been teaching at Columbia Univerity's Barnard College since 2002. Her book, "Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society," looks at the importance of archaeology in forming Israel's national identity.

The 2001 book discusses how archaeological discoveries have been used to defend the country's territorial claims and contributed to the idea of Israel as the ancient home of the Jewish people.

The professor, who is of Palestinian descent, argues that Israel has used archaeology to justify its existence in the region, sometimes at the expense of other nationalities like the Palestinians.

The book has garnered both praise and criticism, with opponents challenging her conclusions and her research. It was a co-winner of the Middle East Studies Association's Albert Hourani Annual Book Award.

Criticism has spilled out of academia and onto the Internet, with a Barnard alumnus starting an online petition against the professor's tenure. Her supporters have an online petition, too.

The outside protest is "just preposterous," said Laurie Brand, director of the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California and the chairwoman of the committee on academic freedom for the Middle Eastern Studies Association.

She said tenure decisions should be based on the opinions of other experts in the field, and that opposition to Abu El-Haj was coming from critics trying to silence her.

"You don't shut somebody down because of, as a result of honest inquiry, they've come up with conclusions you don't like," she said.

Barnard religion professor Alan Segal said he is against granting tenure to Abu El-Haj based on her work, which he said he has read. He called the public petitions for and against her tenure "silly" but added that they were unlikely to have any effect on the tenure decision.

"I don't believe it's affected the process in any way," he said, adding that the Barnard faculty, by and large, supports Abu El-Haj.

Barnard officials declined to comment, and Columbia officials were not available.

This isn't the first time that Mideast politics have roiled the Columbia campus. A few years ago, the school had to deal with accusations from Jewish students that they were being intimidated by professors of Middle Eastern studies.

A university report found no evidence to support the accusation, but it did criticize one professor of modern Arab politics and history for inappropriately getting angry at a student in his classroom.

Disputes over Mideast politics have arisen at other campuses as well.

Last week, Norman Finkelstein resigned from his job as a political scientist at DePaul University in Chicago, months after he was denied tenure at the school where his views and scholarship have come under fire.

Finkelstein, a vocal critic of Israel, has argued that some Jewish groups have exploited the Holocaust for political and financial gain.

Columbia may be the target of more protests next month from activists on both sides of the Israel and Palestinian divide.

University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer is scheduled to take part in a panel on academic freedom at the end of October.

Mearsheimer, along with Harvard professor Stephen Walt, recently wrote a book arguing that pro-Israel special interest groups have manipulated the United States to enact policies that favor Israel and work against American interests.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs recently rescinded an invitation for Mearsheimer and Walt to speak at a public forum this month about the book.

Columbia President Lee Bollinger has defended the panel at the university's Heyman Center for the Humanities, saying it falls within the university's tradition of "engaging in critical discussions about important issues."

"One would hope that those committed to a robust First Amendment would see the vital importance of ensuring that our universities are places where free speech can be exercised, as well as taught," he said in a statement.

Mr Bagel: One might also hope that to be a tenured Associate Professor, you would conduct your research ,writing and teaching according to a tradition of being objective and unbiased, incorporating a rigorous scholarly process. Something which apparently seems to be lacking in a lot of Ms. Abu El-Haj published work.

Controversy Over New York Prof's Tenure
The university of Chicago Press: Facts on the Ground


Eris said...

Hey! Don't pick on Walt and Mearsheimer!

After all, $20 million is also a lot of dough.

Saudi donates $20 million to Harvard , Boston Globe, Dec. 13, 2005. Link

Odd that the Walt-Mearshiemer paper was submitted on 03/13/2006 Link


Anonymous said...

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and LionPAC present the second in the Underground Lecture Series: What Archaeology Tells Us About Ancient Israel

At Columbia University.

New York - The Columbia University chapter of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and LionPAC will bring three of the world’s leading archaeologists of ancient Israel to Columbia this year to lecture on their findings regarding the Bible lands in antiquity.

On September 17, Barnard College Professsor, Alan F. Segal, Professor of Religion and Ingeborg Rennert Professor of Jewish Studies, introduced the series, speaking on: What Biblical Archaeology Tells Us About the First Temple Period. He will also introduce the next three speakers.

This Monday, October 15, at 7:00 pm in 717 Hamilton Hall, Professor William Dever will address the topic: Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel.
William G. Dever is Emeritus Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Arizona. He has served as director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem, as director of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. He spent thirty years conducting archaeological excavations in the Near East. He directed the digs at Gezer, Shechem, Jebel Qa’aqir, and Be’er Resisim, and is the author of 27 books and over 350 articles on the archaeology of the Holy Land.
Professor Aren Maeir of Bar Ilan University will speak November 19 on: The Archaeology of the Philistines: Findings Relevant to Ancient Israel and the Development of Biblical Text.
Professor Jodi Magness of Duke University will speak February 4 on: Jerusalem in the Time of Herod.
Each talk will be open to the public and followed by an ample question period.