Saturday, September 8, 2007

Scholar Denied Tenure at De Paul U, Chicago

U.S. prof. who says Jews abuse Holocaust to curb critics resigns
By The Associated Press
Ha'aretz -- Thursday - September 6, 2007

A Chicago university professor who has drawn criticism for accusing some Jews of abusing the legacy of the Holocaust agreed Wednesday to resign immediately "for everybody's sake."

DePaul University officials and political science professor Norman Finkelstein issued a joint statement announcing the resignation, which came as about a hundred protesters gathered outside the dean's office to support him.

Finkelstein, who is the son of Holocaust survivors, was denied tenure in June after spending six years on DePaul's faculty. His remaining class was cut by DePaul last month.His most recent book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, is largely an attack on Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel. In his book, Finkelstein argues that Israel uses perceived anti-Semitism as a weapon to stifle criticism.

Dershowitz, who threatened to sue Finkelstein's publisher for libel, urged DePaul officials to reject Finkelstein's tenure bid.Finkelstein said in the statement that he believes the tenure decision was tainted by external pressures, but praised the university's "honorable role of providing a scholarly haven for me the past six years."The school denied that outside parties influenced the decision to deny Finkelstein tenure. The school's portion of the statement called Finkelstein a prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher.

Finkelstein called that acknowledgment the most important part of the statement."I felt finally I had gotten what was my due and that maybe it was time, for everybody's sake, that I move on," he said at a news conference that followed a morning rally staged by students and faculty who carried signs and chanted "stop the witch hunt."Finkelstein added: "DePaul students rose to dazzling spiritual heights in my defense that should be the envy of and an example for every university in the United States."

The professor would not discuss financial terms of the resignation agreement, which he said was confidential, but noted that it does not bar him from speaking out about issues that concern him, including the unfairness of the tenure process.

He also said he does not know what he will do next, but came to realize before Wednesday that "the atmosphere had become so poisoned that it was virtually impossible for me to carry on at DePaul. The least I could hope for is to leave DePaul with my head up high and my reputation intact."

Dershowitz was critical of the school. "DePaul looks like they caved into pressure," he said in a telephone interview. "The idea of describing him as a scholar trades truth for convenience. He's a man who is a propagandist and is not a scholar."

Still, Dershowitz said, "I'm happy he's out of academia. Let him do his ranting on street corners."

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