If the longstanding fight between two professors, Alan Dershowitz and Norman Finkelstein, was under the jurisdiction of family court, a judge could issue restraining orders and forbid inflammatory statements. But, alas, this nasty and zealously pursued feud is taking place in scholarly precincts, so each protagonist is continuing his campaign, unhampered, to destroy the other’s professional reputation and career.
In the latest round, first reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Mr. Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard and a prominent defender of Israel, is trying to derail Mr. Finkelstein’s bid for tenure at DePaul University in Chicago. He has sent a blast of e-mail messages to faculty and administrators there accusing Mr. Finkelstein of shoddy scholarship, lying and anti-Semitism.
Mr. Finkelstein, who is going before a university-wide review panel on Friday, the third and final step of the tenure process, said that so far two committees — one from the political science department and one from the college as a whole — voted in favor of tenure. But the college dean rejected his advisory committee’s vote and recommended against an appointment.
“I am personally confident that had the process been without outside interferences, I would have gotten tenure,” Mr. Finkelstein said. (Tenure decisions will be announced in June, said Denise Mattson, a spokeswoman for DePaul.)
Regardless of the outcome Mr. Dershowitz has managed to irritate many people besides Mr. Finkelstein. “Everyone has been offended by the degree of outside pressure,” said Michael Budde, the chairman of DePaul’s political science department, “which shows no respect for the integrity of our process and institution.” On Tuesday the Middle East Studies Association, which represents scholars, sent a letter to DePaul’s president expressing concern that this tenure decision had been “unduly politicized.”