Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Does Barnard Need Junk Academics?

Bumped to the top

Its tenure time at Barnard College, and Nadia Abu El Haj is aspiring to attain the coveted Barnard professorship title in her field of Anthropology.

Unfortunately, tenure for Nadia Abu El Haj does about as much to further Columbia and Barnard’s academic standing, as Hamas has done to promote peace in the Middle East.

One only has too examine her doctoral thesis (and now a book), “Facts on the Ground: Archeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society.” to see that her analysis of “archaeological practice” has nothing to do with anthropological or archaeological analysis, and is just your run-of-the-mill anti-Israel rhetoric, masquerading as junk research.

Her analysis of Israeli society determines that it is a "settler-colonial community", and has “invented” an ancient history in the region by the use of archeology.

She attempts to demonstrate how "(social) science generates facts or phenomena, which refigure what counts as true or real,” and concludes that the "existence of the ancient Israelite and Hebrew kingdoms should be considered “a pure political fabrication.”

Historians are appalled by her junk research.

“El-Haj is not a practicing archaeologist. She hardly knows the Hebrew in which many Israeli archaeological debates are conducted. She has taken part in very few actual digs. Yet she confidently condemns Israeli archaeology as a tool of the Zionists. With only gossip to go on, she accuses one archaeologist of bulldozing non-Jewish strata to get to the levels that might offer details about ancient Israel. Bizarrely, she then concludes her book by reversing herself on such desecration, asking us to "understand" sympathetically the Palestinian mob that destroyed Joseph’s Tomb on October 8, 2000. I guess it all depends on whose narrative is being bulldozed.”

Jonathan Burack, The Family Security Foundation, December 28, 2006

Archaeologists have criticized her book harshly:

The dean of Middle Eastern archeology, William Dever of the University of Arizona, “who has authored more than 20 books on Middle East History, said Ms. Abu El-Haj seems intent on writing Jews out of ancient Middle East history, and demonizing a generation of apolitical Israeli archaeologists in the process. Barnard should deny Ms. Abu El-Haj tenure, he said, ‘not because she's Palestinian or pro-Palestinian or a leftist, but because her scholarship is faulty, misleading and dangerous.’ ” Campus Watch

"At the heart of her critique is an undisguised political agenda that regards modern and ancient Israel , and perhaps Jews as a whole, as fictions… "Abu El Haj's anthropology is undone by her... ill-informed narrative, intrusive counter-politics, and by her unwillingness to either enter or observe Israeli society... "The effect is a representation of Israeli archaeology that is simply bizarre... Filling in what is missing from her text becomes fatiguing. In the end there is no reason to take her picture of Israeli archaeology seriously, since her selection bias is so glaring… "Abu El Haj has written a flimsy and supercilious book, which does no justice to either her putative subject or the political agenda she wishes to advance. It should be avoided." Alexander H. Joffe, Lecturer in Archaeology, Purchase College, SUNY Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Chicago: Oct 2005. Vol. 64, Iss. 4; p. 297

"Perhaps the most astonishing part of the book is a discussion on the last page of the text (p. 281). Abu el-Haj describes and condones the attack, and subsequent ransacking, by a Palestinian mob on what is known as "Jacob's Tomb" in Nablus in 2001. Several people were killed as a result of this attack; the gleeful tone in which she describes this act of vandalism exemplifies how her political agenda completely overcame her duties as a social scientist… "This book is the result of faulty and ideologically motivated research. One can but wonder how the 1995 dissertation on which it is based was authorized at Duke University and how a respected publisher like the University of Chicago Press could have published such unsubstantiated work.” Maeir, Aren, Professor of Archaeology, Bar Ilan University, Isis, volume 95 (2004), pages 523–524, Solomonia Blog

It’s ironic that while supposedly advocating archeology, Abu el-Haj indelibly aligns herself with the Palestinians, who have absolutely no regard or respect for Biblical archeology whatsoever. Doing everything in their power to destroy the archaeological remnants from the Temple Mount, Palestinians dug out a huge underground Mosque in the “Solomon's Stables” area of the Temple Mount, and proceeded to destroy and dump everything they could find of historic significance, while repeating the mantra, “There were never any Jewish Temples in Jerusalem.

As Arab mobs riot these days over Israel's attempts to rebuild a bridge to the Temple Mount and the to excavate outside the Mugrabi Gate (and therefore, outside the Temple Mount complex and Mosques), one has to wonder why Barnard College is demeaning itself by offering tenure to junk academics, bent on the denying the legitimacy of the Jewish State.

Are you an alum of Barnard or Columbia?

Why not drop an email to Barnard College President, Judith Shapiro, (jshapiro@Barnard.Edu) or Columbia College President Lee and let them know that tenure for Nadia Abu El Haj degrades your alma mater.

Know someone who studied at Barnard or Columbia who values academic research integrity? Send them a link to this posting.

Universities are research institutions, and politics can and should play a role in formulating opinion. Yet when academic research is corrupted to that point that anti-Israel junk-academia peddlers are eligible for tenure at Ivy League schools, I think we need to take a step back and ensure that research at our universities remains free of the likes of Nadia Abu El Haj.

Pass it on.



Marilyn Chin '74
Director of Barnard Alumnae Affairs
(212) 854-2005

Derek Wittner '65
Dean of Alumni Affairs and Development
Tel: (212) 870-2741

Office of the President, Judith Shapiro

109 Milbank Hall,
Tel: (212) 854-2021

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Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


bec said...

this is absolutely shameful. even more so is that i know someone who is studying at columbia and has been completely brainwashed to believe that this crap is accurate. how so many people who believe in altering and misrepresenting history can be on one campus is bewildering....

Annie said...

Barnard and Columbia have been recently in the news a lot after the showing of "Columbia Unbecoming."

Basically, I think that they have been trying to move away from their image as a "school for Jews" by hiring more left-wing, liberal, pro-Palestinian professors. In reality, all that they have achieved is to segment the campus, and create classes that are only taken by people who either don't know about the professor, or already share the views. No dialogue is created, just apartheid.

Anonymous said...

What I've always found interesting is that every time a Palestinian (and Arafat was especially loud about this himself) makes the insane claim that Jews have no historical ties to Israel, and especially to Jerusalem, they are also negating the Christian bible - without a Temple, there can be no Jesus getting thrown out of it, just for a start. Yet where is the Christian uproar?

Not that I'm not outraged for our own sake, but methinks there's a far bigger group out there who ought to be aware of the message being spread...

Lion of Zion said...

any idea who was on her dissertation committee at duke?

PsychoToddler said...

Excellent post. There is no question as to why the Palestinians are in such an uproar over the excavation. Any archeological proof of the Jews' historic claim to Israel directly undermines their entire national existence.

JoeSettler said...

She probably hangs out with Finklestein from TAU.

Jack Steiner said...

It is just shameful.

Anonymous said...

Why not let these administrators know that THEY degrade your alma mater?

I'm Haaretz, Ph.D. said...

I was just reading today that Barnard gives 70% of its graduates latin honors (the cum laudes). 70%!!!! Talk about junk academics! What a joke!

Unfortunately you're talking about the same administration that defended Prof Said's stone throwing into an Israeli embassy as 'free speech'.

Judith said...

"Yet where is the Christian uproar? "

The Zionist evangelicals are plenty unhappy, believe me.

Smooth said...

I wrote about it here, Hope it mentions everything we need to say, please let me know if you want me to add something else.

JJ said...

Very important post! I've got a few Barnard/Columbia grads in my address book- I'll be sure to pass the word along.

Anonymous said...

As a proud Barnard alum, I am horrified by this and plan on emailing Shapiro and other Barnard administrators. But just to clarify, Barnard and Columbia are two associated but different school with different administrations, different boards of trustees, and even different outlooks. Said was Columbia, Columbia Unbecoming is Columbia, and the overall pro-Arab feelings are Columbia more than Barnard. As for the poster who felt that this a junk academic school, you are incorrect. These are just very smart women who work very very hard for their grades.

Anonymous said...

Moses was certainly nothing but a cartoon, even Jewish Rabbis are stating there never was an Exodus. Killing people over this fantasy is pretty crazy, but that does prove the type of people we've been dealing with.

Litvshe said...

Anonymous (the last), I'd ask you to refrain from making inflamatory statements. A large number or the people who come to this blog as well as the people who write it are Orthodox Jews. There certainly aren't any Orthodox Rabbis who would state that. So, take it elsewhere please.

Anonymous said...

You might also want to check out a new website that seems to have gone up recently:

And there's a petition against granting her tenure at:

We should try to get everyone to sign this - especialy Barnard and Columbia grads.

- Barnard grad, class of 1986

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