Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Does Scholar Think Anti-Israel Animus Justifies Academic Fraud?

Ilan Pappé rode to fame by bashing Israel, repeatedly accusing the Jewish state of war crimes and crying oppression when academics actually looked at his evidence and found it lacking. But, just as with University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole or University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer, there is a certain type of person who will cry persecution whenever critics find arguments unpersuasive if not bordering on deranged conspiracies. If, in Cole’s case, Yale and Duke University turn you down, it’s not because he came off as arrogant, did not fit the job description, or gave a sub-par job talk; it’s because the CIA was out to get him. Or, in Mearsheimer’s case, it was just easier to complain that Jews were muzzling him as he took a $750,000 book advance to the bank.  That he subsequently chose to endorse a Holocaust denier’s book certainly shouldn’t reflect on his judgment.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with historical inquiry, but it must be done honestly. When I was working on my Ph.D, one of my faculty advisers quipped that theory was for people who did not have libraries. If there was not archival evidence to support a statement then, simply, that statement could not be made. Ignorance is no excuse for an academic, nor is stubbornness a virtue. When Benny Morris mistreated quotes by David Ben-Gurion and Theodor Herzl, he was rightly pilloried for it. In December 2006, he came clean and acknowledged that the Ben- Gurion quote was fraudulent. Kudos to him for reversing the error.

Alas, to advance his polemic, Pappé has embraced the false Ben-Gurion quote endorsing ethnic cleansing, an outlandish accusation. Some of those who relied on Pappé have issued corrections, or are in the process of doing so. Not Pappé, however. He may believe that tainting Israel with original sin justifies his lies. That is sad, but in the post-modern world of modern academe, too often polemics trump truth. The question posed recently by Dexter Van Zile, a researcher at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, is whether his home institution, the University of Exeter, and publisher, agree. Academics embrace free speech and, indeed, free speech should be sacred. Such freedom, however, does not expunge poor research, integrity, and honesty.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.