Madison, Wisconsin—In the wake of the rejection of tenure at DePaul University for Norman Finkelstein who teaches political theory, Finkelstein has drawn a flood of support.
Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, drew praise from his academic department and a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences tenure committee, but his tenure was denied as the result of political pressure, mostly from Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, a rightwing scholar who infamously supported legalizing torture, is working with Robert Bork on overturning the conviction of Lewis Scooter Libby, and tried unsuccessfully to block publication of Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah (University of California Press, 2005) which exposed substantial plagiarism committed by Dershowitz.
Writes Finkelstein: “An appendix to Beyond Chutzpah irrefutably demonstrates that Dershowitz not only massively lifted information and ideas from another author, Joan Peters, without attribution, but that he did so from a book, Peters' From Time Immemorial, universally dismissed as a fraud.”
The tenure was vetoed by DePaul president, President Dennis Holtschneider, who is facing a vote of no confidence from the DePaul faculty for a nakedly political decision.
Finkelstein has drawn condemnation for his razor-sharp criticism of American and Israeli militarism and what he contends are the misuses by some of the Holocaust that almost killed his parents.
But the sheer political nature of the tenure denial has enraged many. As reported in the Chicago Sun Times:
Clutching blankets, pop bottles and signs saying "Just Grant It,'' two dozen students protesting the tenure denial of a popular but controversial professor were forced to leave a 22nd-floor conference room outside DePaul President Dennis Holtschneider's office Wednesday.
The students were threatened with penalties including expulsion if they didn't leave after they spent nearly three days in the room.
"This is going to be a long battle,'' said student Evan Lorendo, 22. "DePaul will be embarrassed by this activity.''
Finkelstein has drawn praise from Raul Hilberg, considered the dean of Holocaust studies, Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman and Sara Roy.
Writes Finkelstein in his website:
I am currently being inundated with letters of support. Please be certain that I have read everyone of them. Because it's simply impossible to answer each of them personally, I have decided instead to post the letters because many are so intelligent, witty, incisive and heartfelt. I am deeply in your debt and will do my best to continue to earn the praise and support I have received. To avoid any retaliation, I have taken the liberty of removing the names.
A student studying at DePaul e-mailed that Finkelstein is "all packed up and ready to go... if you call his office, his voicemail says: 'you have reached the office of Norman Finkelstein... I will be leaving DePaul on June 16 ... '"