Let’s start with a passage from Alan Dershowitz’s latest book, The Case for Israel, now slithering into the upper tier of Amazon’s sales charts. On page 213 we meet Dershowitz, occupant of the Felix Frankfurter Chair at Harvard Law School, happily walloping a French prof called Faurisson, charged by the FF prof from Harvard U as being a fraud and a Holocaust denier: “There was no extensive historical research. Instead, there was the fraudulent manufacturing of false antihistory. It was the kind of deception for which professors are rightly fired–not because their views are controversial but because they are violating the most basic canons of historical scholarship.”
Let me now usher into the narrative an important member of the cast: From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine, a 601-page book by Joan Peters, published in 1984. Peters’s polemical work strove to buttress the old Zionist thesis that the land of Israel had been “a land without people, awaiting a people without land.” Peters’s book was soon discredited as a charnel house of disingenuous polemic. The coup de grâce was administered by Professor Yehoshua Porath in The New York Review of Books for January 16 and March 27, 1986.
Though neither Peters nor her book appears in the index to The Case for Israel, they both get a mention in note 31 of chapter 2, where Dershowitz cites the work of a nineteenth-century French geographer called Cuinct [sic], and adds, “See Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial (Chicago: JKAP Publications, 1984). Peters’s conclusions and data have been challenged. See Said and Hitchens, p. 33. I do not in any way rely on them in this book.” “Them” clearly refers to Peters’s conclusions and data.
This brazen declaration is preceded in chapters 1 and 2 by repeated, unacknowledged looting of Peters’s research. I have before me a devastating comparative archive of these plagiarisms, compiled by Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. Here are but four from twenty thus far discovered in the first two chapters alone.
“In the sixteenth century,” the learned Dershowitz remarks on the seventeenth page of his book, “according to British reports, ‘as many as 15,000 Jews’ lived in Safad, which was a ‘center of rabbinical learning.'” Source cited by Dershowitz: Palestine Royal Commission Report, pp. 11-12. Turn now to page 178 of Peters’s book, published nineteen years earlier: “Safed at that time, according to the British investigation by Lord Peel’s committee, ‘contained as many as 15,000 Jews in the 16th century,’ and was ‘a centre of Rabbinical learning.'” Source cited by Peters: Palestine Royal Commission Report, pp. 11-12. Originality displayed by Dershowitz: downgrading “Rabbinical” to a lower-case r.
Same page of Dershowitz: “[A]ccording to the British consul in Jerusalem, the Muslims of Jerusalem ‘scarcely exceed[ed] one quarter of the whole population.'” Source cited: James Finn to Earl of Clarendon, January 1, 1858. Peters (p. 197): “In 1858 Consul Finn reported the ‘Mohammedans of Jerusalem’ were ‘scarcely exceeding one-quarter of the whole population.'” Source cited: James Finn to Earl of Clarendon, January 1, 1858.