May 17, 2005

Dershowitz charged with not writing book because he was too busy writing letters . . .


Has Alan Dershowitz been conducting a behind-the-scenes campaign to block a book accusing him of plagiarism, and of not writing his own books? As Steven Zeitchik details in a Publishers Weekly report, Dershowitz has publicly feuded with DePaul professor Norman Finkelstein for years, and now a vigorous letter writing campaign by Dershowtiz to publishers and other related parties seems responsible “for one publisher pulling out from publishing Finkelstein’s book and for the author’s new house, the University of California Press, pushing it back several months.” What’s the book in question? Beyond Chutzpah, “a point-by-point rebuttal of Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel. It also continues allegations that Finkelstein has long made that the Harvard professor invented facts in, plagiarized parts of and in fact may even have not written his 2003 book The Case for Israel.” After Dershowtiz-inspired delays led Finkelstein to move from the New Press to the UC Press, “Dershowitz sent several letters to the house in which he made ‘serious accusations about Finkelstein as a person and as a scholar,’ according to someone familiar with the letters,” says Zeitchik. Dershowitz even wrote to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declined to become involved. Publisher Lynn Withey admits she’s “walking a tightrope between rabblerousing and capitulating,” says Zeitchik. She tells him, “We really don’t want to get into a continued antagonism between these two authors, and they’ve been at each other for a while. But Finkelstein has an important message and an incredible amount of documentation and an important argument that needs to be heard.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.